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Travel, UK

Walking Among the Stones, A Visit to Stonehenge

August 7, 2017

Stonehenge

For many of us, Stonehenge is a place we have heard about since we were in elementary school and due to the mystery its origins we are drawn to it. This is the case for me as well. Once I knew I was going to the UK for a month, I knew had to make time to visit.

Stonehenge

The downfall of the popularity of visiting Stonehenge is that it gets very crowded and you can no longer walk among the stones on a regular ticket. I really wanted to be able to walk among the stones and have no people in my pictures, so I opted for a tour. In order to have no one in the shots, we were picked up in Central London at 5:00 AM! Crazy early but as will see below, absolutely worth the early start.

Stonehenge

The History

I won’t go into too much of the background of Stonehenge because there is so much online and I am not an archaeologist. Stonehenge was a first just earthwork, wood posts and small stones. Then the large stones were added several hundred years later. Obviously building the structure probably took many years. The stones likely come from two areas, one about 20 miles away and the others came from Wales. Which is just astounding considering they had to move them without the assistances of machinery. The archaeologists have many theories on how they were transported.

Stonehenge

The stones at Stonehenge are partially buried in order to allow for them to be standing. The stones were shaped to fit together and you can see evidence of these holes on some of the ones that have fallen down. I also wonder if some of the holes were used in the transport and raising of the stones.

Stonehenge

There are many theories on what the stones were used for from a burial ground, a temple and a calendar. Each theory has merit and we, of course, can never be completely sure what they were ultimately used for.

Stonehenge

Visiting

If you want to walk among the stones, I highly recommend a tour. It is the only way that I can tell. Each tour company seems to be allotted a day of the week to take their guests into the stones. Some companies will leave from London and some from Salisbury. My tour continued to Oxford and Windsor Castle. While I enjoyed seeing those places as well it was a long and hurried day. I wish I had just done Stonehenge and one other thing because I was exhausted at the end of the day. I couldn’t find a tour that did just Stonehenge.

Stonehenge

When you arrive, if you are on a tour, you won’t have to go to the tickets booth. Your tour guide will take you to the shuttle bus that takes you to Stonehenge. If you are on your own, you will have to show your tickets or buy them at the visitor’s center. Then you can get on the shuttle bus or walk. The walk is long though.

If not on a tour, you can walk the outside circle of Stonehenge. If you are not on a tour, I recommend getting an audio tour as there is little informational signage. The site also offers some amazing views of the English countryside.

Stonehenge

Getting close to Stonehenge is one of those things I will never forget and ranks up there with my visit to the Pyramids and Petra! Have you been to Stonehenge?

North America, Travel, United States

Historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas

July 3, 2017

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs brings back memories of my childhood walking the streets with my parents and grandparents, eating saltwater taffy and a hotel cat. Over the weekend, I got to walk down those streets again.

The town of Eureka Springs is nestled in the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas. It has been a tourist destination since the before the town was founded in the 1880s. This was mainly due to the natural springs found in and around the town. Spa treatments are still a popular activity now.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Things to do

Shopping – Even I like shopping in Eureka Springs. In the past, there seemed to be more antique stores than there are now, but there are still some great stores. There are several clothing stores that sell a variety of things. On this trip, I picked up some jewelry, a linen dress, a kimono and a tank top. The prices are also a good range. If you love antiques, there are a few of those left. The kids will love the variety of candy stores, including one that makes saltwater taffy, Sweet Fudge’s Kitchen.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

Ghost Tours – The Basin Park Hotel is supposedly haunted and you can take a ghost tour in the evenings there. The Crescent Hotel, the large hotel on the top of the hill, also offers ghost tours. These tours are enhanced by the historic nature of the two hotels. The Crescent even has family friendly ghost tours at an earlier hour than the Basin.

Ride the Trolley – While technically this trolley is public transportation for getting around Eureka Springs, it is a great way to see the town without having to climb the hills. Which is really great if you are staying up the hill at the Crescent! There are several routes. My youngest niece begged to go on it, so it is a great activity to take the littlest traveler on.

Tour the Historic Houses and Buildings –  At Christmas Time in Eureka Springs, you can go on tours inside the Victorian houses. However, you can still walk around the rest of the year and admire them from the outside. Some of them have great gardens and some are perched in awkward ways above streets. The town has so many historical markers, I couldn’t read them all! You could probably spend a whole day doing just this.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Get a Spa Treatment – There are several spas in town. Some are just massage places, though. My recommendations would be the spas at either the Basin Park Hotel or the Crescent Hotel. The Basin Park Hotel Spa is an Aveda salon and is located on the second floor of the hotel. Walk-ins are welcome. The Crescent Hotel spa is called the New Moon Spa and is located on the garden level.

Look at Art – There is an art scene is this tiny town. There are many galleries to explore that include painting, sculpture, and metalworks. There is some public art as well. Look for the painted staircase. This trip I noticed a collection of gnomes have popped up. I was also told of a new sculpture park out near the train station and if you touch the sculptures, they make sounds!

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Where to stay

Crescent Hotel – Built in 1886, the Crescent Hotel has had a curious past and has served as a girls college, a fake cancer hospital and had a cat as Hotel Manager. They have lots of room options including suites and cottages. Many rooms have jacuzzi tubs. Keep in mind that it has been claimed as the most haunted hotel in America!

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Basin Park Hotel – This is the hotel my parents love to stay in. However, I would only stay there because it is in the center of town and has a balcony restaurant. The rooms are not updated and they have giant furniture in them, which made them feel small. The bathroom had been updated and was nice.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Rent a cottage or stay in a B&B – There are several Victorian cottages you can rent and several that are Bed and Breakfasts. My parents stayed in one a long time ago and they loved it. Many of these are on the trolley routes, so you don’t have to worry about driving into the center of town and paying for parking.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Getting There

Most people drive to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The only thing to note about the drive is that Eureka Springs is located in the Ozark Mountains and the roads are winding. Several members of my family get carsick when we are getting close to Eureka. You can fly to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on American Airlines, Delta, United and Allegiant Air and then rent a car. It is an hours drive to Eureka.

Have you been to Eureka Springs, Arkansas? Tell us your favorite thing there.

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