Exploring Ancient Mysteries- A Trip to Stonehenge

“The world was to me a secret which I desired to devine.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

My morning in Bath was actually interrupted by a day trip to another famous site. You see, one of the most famous of the U.K.’s memorials was something I hadn’t yet seen. And I was eager to check it off my to do list.


Now, to get to Stonehenge without your own car is apparently a bit tricky. You have to get a train down to Salisbury, the nearest town, and then some kind of a shuttle to the sight. I honestly read a few reviews about getting there and someone suggested that a bus tour was often just the easiest and most time efficient way to do it.

So for any looking for advice, let me say that there is transport there but I don’t know how to go about it, because in my opinion sometimes a little money is worth it to save yourself time. After all, time is money doubly so when you’re traveling.


I used Scarper Tours. It had good reviews and was one leaving from Bath. Obviously there are others you could do from London as well since it’s between the two cities.

Regardless the small bus took me and a group of about a dozen people through the winding countryside, with the driver pointing out sights along the way. We reached Stonehenge in a little under an hour and our guide went to grab our tickets and audioguides, which took maybe five minutes tops, probably less. So all in all quite convenient and efficient.

Now, from the visitor’s center there are buses going out to the stones, although you can walk as well. I should point out that for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a long time looking at the stones you could simply rent a car and drive out to them and park a good distance away and still see them. My family did a similar thing when visiting Pont du Gard in France many years ago.

IMG_6790 (2)

To be honest, they keep you back quite a distance from the stones anyways. It’s understandable as this is an archaeological site that is highly visited, and as a result has begun to deteriorate. So yes, you cannot walk up to them, but still can get decent photos and the like.


Honestly, I’ve seen a few ancient rock formations. I mentioned the ones I’d seen outside of Evora in a previous blog. I have also seen quite a few around Carnac in France, which has way more stones even if they’re not quite as big and not carved or set a top like they are in Stonehenge.

I’m not saying it’s not worth visiting. It is a very interesting place, and indeed is quite fascinating in its unknown origins and the like. However, I think there are other sites that can give you a sense of the same idea without charging an exorbitant rate, and forcing you to stand at a large distance with a crowd of other people.

IMG_6789 (2)

Unfortunately my audioguide stopped working partway through, but honestly I didn’t care all that much. I considered walking back to the visitor’s center instead of taking the shuttle, but as I had a time limit to be back to my bus, I didn’t want to take too long.

I then went in the visitor’s center, which was much smaller than I would have expected given what a popular landmark this is. I suppose they just don’t have enough information to fill it, but it was a bit underwhelming all in all.

I’m glad I can say I’ve been to Stonehenge, but I’d say of the things I saw on my trip it was probably one of the least impressive. Honestly Bath or the beautiful city of Edinburgh are much more interesting in my mind.

From there I headed back to Bath, again about an hour drive. The driver dropped us off and I rushed off to get tea! Yes, I do love tea so I wanted to have some that afternoon.

And where better to go than the oldest house in Bath, the Sally Lunn house that still sells her famous buns.

IMG_6858 (2)

Basically these are just delicious rolls that are the size of a saucer.

I settled on having the high tea. It was fairly reasonably priced as you had both tea, a dessert bun, and a savory one as well. Sadly you didn’t get to choose your flavor for the combo…so I was stuck with the smoked salmon. I’ll just go ahead and admit I’m not a big fish person, especially when the fish is more…raw in texture?

IMG_6867 (2)

The bun was delicious and the tea was lovely, but I admit I regretted my choice on the salmon. So yes, don’t be an idiot like me and make sure you order something you know you’ll like.

The dessert one with jam and clotted cream was even more delicious. I wolfed it down and then enjoyed my tea.

IMG_6870 (2)

My phone was dying so I decided to peak into the museum downstairs before heading off to my hostel to recharge.

The museum is quite small, so I wouldn’t advise going out of your way to see it, even if it is free. However, again the eatery is quite fun so if you’re up for it it’s not a bad place to stop in for a quick bite and some tea.


After charging my phone it was getting a little bit later. I was worried most of the museums would be closing up, so I decided to do something open to the public instead. I headed to one of the parks in town and notably the Royal Crescent.

So I mentioned the Circus in a post previously. The Crescent is similar in being a rounded series of Georgian homes, with very beautiful architecture.

However, at the end of the crescent there is also a museum known as Number One Royal Crescent.

It’s essentially just supposed to show what the wealthy lived like in Georgian England, and as Bath is famous for its wealthy visitors (think Jane Austen’s descriptions of high society), it seemed an appropriate thing to do.

I checked in to see how late it was open. The lady at the front desk was a little short with me, and I almost turned away, but it was open for another hour so I decided to pay and go in. If you’re in Bath for a while it would be worth investigating saver tickets to get into multiple places. As I wasn’t sure how much I would be doing, I didn’t purchase these but it would be a nice deal if you’re looking to do more than one museum.

Inside the house the hosts showed me around the different rooms. Sadly none of the furniture or fixings are really original, so if you’re looking for that authenticity you won’t find it in this house. They did do good research on what the house would have looked like back in the day though, so it all is quite authentic, even if it lacks the true historic preservation.

You wander through the various rooms of the house and different staff members clue you in on interesting things in the room and can answer questions if need be. They also provide little pamphlets that give you  more information about the rooms use and the various furnishings.

All in all I had a good time and enjoyed it. I’d say if you’re looking for something to do in Bath this is well worth it.

With the time I had left I decided to head over to the Botanical Garden and see if it was open to the public (and hopefully free).

Just my luck it was open to six and didn’t charge! It’s a quite small garden, but very pretty and tranquil. If you’re looking to just relax for a bit and enjoy nature, it’s a good place to see! And again, free so you can make up for splurging on the spa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After wandering for a bit I headed back towards town to get some food.

I settled at a place called Bills that had really reasonable 3 course meal setup for the early evening. I decided to go with that, treating myself to a cocktail and then having some meat skewers, fish, and to finish off a plate of donuts!

After finishing dinner I headed back to my hostel for the night.


Kicking Back in Bath

“They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, and everywhere.”
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

I might start by alienating some readers by saying I’m not a huge Jane Austen lover.

Yes, gasp. Everyone assumes I am because I’m an English major. But honestly I had a lot of other books I found more compelling than the tales of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate Jane Austen, which is why I admit that I was excited by the prospect of visiting Bath, partly because it conjured glamourous images of high society and tea and dresses.

Okay well not only that. I also knew it was a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

IMG_6736 (2)

Regardless I caught a bus from Oxford over to Bath, about two hours in the bus.

I checked into my hostel. Funnily enough I’d decided to stay at a YMCA. It was the best rated place in Bath, hostelwise, so it made sense to me. However, it still seemed funny after having worked at the YMCA in my hometown for a year.

IMG_6879 (2)

Definitely my least favorite hostel. It was crowded and didn’t really have a lot of good atmosphere. However, it was very centrally located, decently priced, and had nice privacy curtains, chargers, and lights on all the beds. So all in all I can’t complain too much.

After leaving my bags I headed off to explore Bath. I started, of course, in the most obvious place to visit. The baths themselves.

The Roman baths are quite remarkable. And I can say that easily as someone who has visited Rome alongside several Roman settlements in France and Spain (Arles, Nimes, Merida, Orange, etc). My parents dragged me to Roman archaeological sites throughout a good part of my childhood. And while I did enjoy them, I soon grew tired of seeing old Roman baths.

That was not the case here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Because Bath is built on a natural hot springs, the Romans built a large bathing and temple complex in the city. Amazingly, much of it is still preserved, amazingly intact after centuries have gone by. So yes, if you have to see Roman baths… well this is the place.

These are simply incredible to see, and give great explanations on the Romans as a whole. The museum is really well done and the sight itself is incredible as well. If you’re able to see it, I think it’s well worth it. You can’t bathe anymore, but you do get a chance to try the waters that were so reputed for their healing powers. If you’re a little more wealthy you can also have lunch or tea in the Pump Room next door, but it was a little out of  my budget.

After I was finished I decided to stop by Bath Abbey. It’s an absolutely beautiful church. It’s donations only, so you don’t have to spend a lot to visit. However, if you want to climb the tower you can pay a little more. It was a beautiful day and I do sort of wish I had done so, but I was exhausted and at that point feeling sort of ill, so I decided to skip.

I stopped by a pharmacy for some cold medicine and took a break back at my hostel for a bit. After that I decided to go walk around a little more.

I stopped by the Circus, which is a round square of Georgian homes. It’s very pretty, though nothing you need to spend much time on.

After that I was off to a very special booking I’d made.

I was due at the spa.

So, for any looking for budget travel tips, this is definitely not your post. I was in a huge “treat yourself” mode on this particular trip, and I decided that while in Bath I’d do like Bath Romans used to do…. Aka I’d visit a spa and lounge in the healing thermal waters.

Thermae Spa uses the same waters that the Roman baths did, although from the smell I think they are treated with chlorine (could be mistaken of course). Regardless, it looked like a fun place to visit, which even if it’s not historic in itself. So I booked a twilight package for myself, essentially a 3 hour window at the spa including a meal and drink at the restaurant.

I arrived around five in order to have enough time to get prepared for my time. I really didn’t need to get there quite so early, but it was fine and gave me plenty of time to adjust.

This last year I did a visit to the Szechenyi Spa in Budapest, and that was absolutely life changing. However, one drawback there is that there is very little signage, and not everyone speaks English so you do sort of just have to learn as you go. So it was nice to be in a more modern place that was very friendly and welcoming and had good clear directions on where to go.

I changed into my suit and then wandered a bit to get a sense of the layout before heading to the restaurant for dining.

Sadly they don’t allow mobile phones or cameras in the spa, so I don’t really have photos. But I’ll link to their website here so you can see it if you’d like.


I ate a dish of rigatoni with mushrooms and a creamy sherry sauce which was quite good alongside a glass of white wine. I could have ordered other things for additional food if I wanted to, but I had no desire to add to the cost. And besides, I was about to go enjoy the spa and didn’t need to be overly filled up.

After a delicious meal I headed down to the Minerva Pool to start my time. It’s basically just a large warm pool of thermal waters with jets that come on at certain times and floaty noodles. Not really too different from a swimming pool.

I paddled around a bit before deciding I was a bit bored and wanted to check out what else there was.

Unfortunately some of the other pools are only accessible through a treatment. I had to admit I missed Szechenyi which had all kinds of different pools for you to dip in and out of.

So I headed up to the Wellness Suite, which had a variety of different rooms to enjoy.

I started in the Georgian Steam Room, a large sauna billowing with steam and with soft classical music and birdsong playing inside. I settled on a bench and did my best to bear the heat, finding my body relaxing as I did so.

I didn’t last long before I was out to take a cold shower and then head to the ice room to cool down even further. It’s not quite so exciting as it sounds. It really only has a big heap of ice in the center that you can rub along your body to help close your pores.

After the ice bath I headed to the Infrared Sauna. Basically infrared lights heat up and get you warm, causing you to sweat and relax.

After that it was back for more cold showers before I tried the Celestial Relaxation Room. Probably my favorite since I’d never run across anything like it. You like back in the dark, admiring twinkling lights overhead and look at a screen that displays images of the cosmos alongside soothing music. Quite pleasant.

Then to the Roman Steam Room where there was harp music and steam that smelled like flowers. Again it was relaxing and refreshing and I showered off afterwards before heading up to the Rooftop pool.

I arrived in time for sunset. And if you do check out Thermae’s website, I’ll say they aren’t exaggerating on their sunset pictures. It was absolutely stunning. I only wish I could have taken some of my own photographs, but I will include a video below for any curious to see what it looks like.

I went and did a few of the other things a second time, as I had more than enough to just enjoy to the max. Twilight Package is indeed more pricey, but the three hours was nice to feel like I didn’t have to rush.

After showering and changing and putting my robe and towels in the hampers (and taking my free flipflops with me!) I headed back towards my hostel feeling utterly relaxed and ready to take on the rest of my trip.

They say the waters are healing. I won’t lie, within the next day the cold that had started was almost gone. Just a light sneeze left over, but the stuffiness and lethargy and aches… gone. Magic of Bath or a coincidence? Who am I to say. All I’ll write is that I thoroughly enjoyed my time, and if you have the time and the opportunity, it isn’t a bad idea to take a day to relax and enjoy what people have known was amazing for thousands of years.