Thursday, June 14, 2012

[Tourist] Day 31: "No One's Built a Henge Like That Ever Since", Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral

Just about the only Celica convertible in England (seriously...there are apparently seven left and they were all imported but please don't ask me why I know this)

The Queen's English is weird
We had a leisurely morning in, which allowed me to read far more Sherlock Holmes than is good for me. After talking over our alternatives, we decided to do two of the top tourist sites in the area: Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge.
Medieval markings on the hillside. Believe they translate roughly to "wake me up when Google has arrived".
Salisbury is a lovely little town, with a slight-but-not-overwhelming touristy feel. We walked around for a bit before settling on a French cafe for lunch.

I liked the look of thi spub

This place, on the other hand, tres creepy

One of approximately 384 Indian restaurants in Salisbury. There might be more per capita than Hong Kong has 7-elevens.

Still patriotic

These still exist? Really? Has anyone informed the British of Netflix? 

Add caption

If you want the rest of him you'll have to go somewhere else

Finding this in Salisbury just seems wrong


Get ready for lots of photos of half-timbered buildings in the next two weeks

This is the strongest endorsement I can give for the food during my time in England: this was probably the second-least-tasty meal I had and yet I still remember it quite fondly.
For a sandwich at a random cafe on the streets of Salisbury, this was very tasty

I will eat these with a mouse and I will eat these in a house. I will eat these in a box, and I'll even share them with Michael J Fox? This caption got away from me right around the first period. We should all just pretend I stopped there, okay?

Naturally a German tourist accidentally pulled this. Massive alarm goes off in the restaurant. How embarrassing. 
Next up was a stop at Salisbury Cathedral. I was blown away by it. You'd think, having just seen Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, St Denis and, to a lesser extent, Sacre Couer, that I'd be just about up to my ears in cathedrals, but this one may have outdone them all. I think being able to really see the entirety of it in one grasp, which was often quite tough with Notre Dame because of its location, won me over.
Behold, England's largest spire

Behold, England's largest spire from a slightly different angle

Because you've not had enough pictures of sculptures. I'd really like you to relive with me the horror of my Intro Art History course

Lovely cloisters

Kneel before Zod!

I don't know that I've ever seen a fountain like this inside a cathedral

Thomas - we'll be seeing you again in a few days

Has someone told Simon Le Bon?
We spent about twenty minutes or so wandering the cathedral. At that point we saw a sign pointing us towards the Magna Carta. Turns out one of the four remaining original Magna Cartas (and, according to a steward, the best preserved) is kept here at Salisbury. Sweet! Photos were not allowed, but suffice to say that as a political scientist and historian, I enjoyed it immensely.
Oh yeah, we also have a copy of the Magna Carta here. Surprise!

It's just so damn olde worlde

We had two options to get to Stonehenge: drive or take the tour bus. Once we decided to skip the other bus stops (the cathedral, which we'd already seen, and a nearby castle), driving was the obvious choice. With only Phil's vague sense of how to get there, we managed. Despite his claims of not being good with direction sense, he steered us well! We were pleasantly surprised by how completely empty Stonehenge was. Only a 15-20 minute wait for tickets and we were in.

Just a mile or so from Stonehenge. It fit so well.

Oh my god cute doggie!
The entrance to Stonehenge is very well done. You go down a ramp, so from the parking lot onward you can't really see the stones. Then you suddenly re-emerge to see them in front of you. That being said, my first impression was "huh, bunch of stones, why am I here?" But the audioguide, which puts it all in context, was fantastic and absolutely made it worth it.
"Before Stonehenge there was Woodhenge and Strawhenge, but a big bad wolf came and blew them down"

Ah! Barrow down! Wights! It's been three entries since a Tolkien reference; deal with it.
The most exciting part of the day, though, might have been Gilligham Tandoori, which Phil has been raving about for two years. With good cause! While the dishes were all a bit different from their American counterparts (the butter chicken was intensely sweet for example), I still loved it! Another victory for English food.
Phil's favorite restaurant in the world

Why do English papadums come with so many more options?

It's the size of my bleeding head!

This is a completely unfamiliar version of butter chicken: incredibly sweet, but very tasty

Very tasty side dishes

You know this was my favorite part of the meal

Mmmm, free Bailey's

I loved this sign though I couldn't tell you why
A long day but a day well spent. England had so far exceeded my already high expectations for it. It's not for no reason that I am a huge, unabashed anglophile.

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