Back when I was working at a homeschool program here in Charleston, I had the opportunity to head to London for three weeks with four of my students, their parents, and my fellow teacher. One of the places that we were visiting was Stonehenge, something I wasn't super excited about since I'd been twice before and had disliked just anti-climatic visiting this world-famous site was.
However, this visit surprised me and completely changed my thoughts on Stonehenge. For how that happened--and how I managed to get really up close and personal with the inner stone circle, read on!
In the program, I taught these four kids (all siblings) English/ Language Arts; that entire school year, we'd worked towards mastering some of the most important classic British literature within my capacity as a full-time English tutor. I was so excited to share one of my favorite places in the world with these children whom I'd grown incredibly close to over the course of the school year.
A few caveats about this trip:
- While I helped plan some of the trip, most of the tours and logistics were finalized by the parents. Until myself, they are far from budget travelers and spared no expense on this trip. It was fun to see one of my favorite places (London) from a five star travelers' perspective!
- Whenever possible, I haven't included pictures of the kids because they aren't my kids. Just trust me when I say that I usually had four pairs of little hands clinging me to 90% of the time.
- I tried to take decent pictures, but between teaching on the go and supervising four kids under the age of 11, my camera work is definitely sub par. Forgive me.
As I mentioned, I'd been to Stonehenge before this trip, having visited with my roommate while I was studying abroad in London. We did the usual tourist version of Stonehenge as we walked around the stones at a distance while wearing our audio tour earphones:
|Hey, look! It's college Natalie at Stonehenge! (Don't worry--both my personal style and sunglasses have been replaced since this photo was taken.)|
This visit, though, was different.
The family decided to book a private tour with one of the archaeologists that works the site; he and a colleague drove us around the Stonehenge site in 4-wheeled-drive vehicle, giving commentary and theories as we got to different spots.
The Stonehenge site is actually much larger than most people realize. If you're inside the tourist area (where the stones are), look back over the road to the higher ground. Where that ground peaks and has tree cover, there are several grassy burial grounds that archaeologists believe are linked to the rest of the site.
Our tour took place at dusk, and it wasn't hard to imagine people gathering around this important site thousands of years ago.
After visiting the burial site, we headed back into the vehicles and drove over to the more recognized part of the Stonehenge site.
|DO YOU SEE HOW CLOSE I AM!?!?|
There, the guide let us right up next to the rocks, where we were treated to fun facts and theories about the cutting and moving of the rocks.
We even saw a carving that the guide said was basically ancient graffiti--something that you'd never be able to see from where the normal tour takes you!
|I am touching Stonehenge. STONEHENGE, people! (But only with the tip of my finger very, very lightly. I don't want to be the cause of one of them falling down.)|
As the sun set, there was a mysterious, almost creepy feeling that hung in the air. We were standing in the middle of the Stonehenge circle, and we watched the sun go down between these massive, ancient pillars. For once, the kids I was traveling with were quiet, seemingly aware of what a unique moment we were experiencing.
Taking a private tour isn't anything that I'd ever considered because I'm the queen of budget travel, but the experience was definitely one that I will always remember. If you're looking for a cool way to experience one of the world's most recognized landmarks (and you're willing to shell out some cash), I'd highly recommend the sunset tour of Stonehenge.
Have you visited Stonehenge yet? What did you think? What's one travel experience that you're glad you splurged on?
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