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Winter Solstice Sunrise at Stonehenge

Watching the sunrise at Stonehenge then attending a concert at Royal Albert Hall, all in a day's activity.

semi-overcast 35 °F
View Europe Winter 2021 on Miss Chris's travel map.

Today was the solstice celebration, we had the hotel reserve a taxi for us when we’d first arrived so we had a taxi that would arrive at 7am. Since the hotel served breakfast until 10am we asked if we could get breakfast at 10 and they said yes. The tour company, who we’d done the day tour with Nicholas said that after the solstice celebration we could hop on one of their coaches and they’d drop us off across from our hotel as they would stop at the Salisbury Cathedral as part of their tour.

We went out slightly before 7 and on the dot, the taxi arrived. There was frost everywhere, it looked like it had snowed. We hoped in the cab and turned up the heat in the back.

We were at Stonehenge by about 7:20 along with lots of other people driving in. We’d heard that only people who needed help could ride on the bus up to the stones, but that was not the case. Anyone who wanted to ride the bus could, so we got on.

The morning was beautiful! The skies were red and orange as the sun came up. We found that there were people packed into the circle to see the sun come up between the stones. People were standing on fallen stones, sitting on the stones, climbing on the stones. All of the things that cause damage to the stones, by the way.

We worked our way around and finally found a place where we’d see the sun rise between stones. We tried to light our sage but the lighter went out. Then we saw a woman with a candle, she helped us with her candlelight and we got our sage lit.

There were several people, we saw about 6, with drums, beating a beat, people were chanting, a guy was blowing in a horn of some sort. People were dancing. The drums became louder and beats more frequent as the sun was coming. Finally, the sun came above the horizon and there was much cheering, drumming and dancing.

We waved our sage, allowing the smoke to rise and along with our thoughts to our own who have passed. We walked 1st around the entire outside of the stones, then inside the stones. One woman stopped us and directed smoke to herself and several commented on our sage.

Finally, we had to catch our ride back to the hotel as we had to keep moving. We had seen 2 women sitting by one of the stones, they had what looked like offerings to the gods/goddesses so we offered to give them what was left of our sage. They had a piece of wood burning, I forget what it is but is important in the American Indian religion as well. They were thrilled when we said we wanted them to have our sage, so it stayed at the stones, the ashes from it will become part of the landscape.

We caught the coach we were to ride to our hotel and we were back just a few minutes after 10. We had great Full English Breakfast, this includes bacon (not like ours) sausage, broiled tomato, broiled mushroom and baked beans. We needed a big hardy breakfast as we’d likely not have any time to stop until late in the afternoon so we stuffed ourselves.

As we had left our larger bags at the hotel in London, we only had 2 small carryon’s but still needed to finish packing those. We missed the 11:30 train to London but walked quickly up to the station in order to make sure we got on the 12:20 pm train.

We got to the station when I couldn’t find my phone at all. We searched all of our pockets and tried to look thru our shoulder bags. Finally, Dale ran back to the hotel, about 10 min away. The train was due to leave in about 30 min so we were cutting it short. With about 5 min to spare Dale came back, oh was I glad to see him, otherwise we would have had to wait yet another hour. But no phone.

We got on the train and once we had seats we emptied our pockets, no phone. I emptied the smaller shoulder bag, no phone. I went to started searching thru the larger shoulder bag and there it was. My phone is one of the new flip phones so it was opened and the screen dark between 2 dark things in the bag. What a relief. This phone is our hotspot, google maps, our lifeline.

Once in London we had to get to the place where we’d get our “fit to fly” Covid test. About a week before our scheduled departure, we learned that we had to have a Covid test the day before departure. We had to schedule an appointment but most places were full by the time I was set to schedule.

We had an appointment set for 2:45 for both of us. We got to London, googled the testing place and although we’d been there before for our 2-day test, we couldn’t be sure of how to get there.

Our train from Salisbury went into London Waterloo and there is the underground tube right there, so we were able to just go from one to the other. We got to the testing site right at 2:45. As luck would have it there was no line, we just got right in and got the “Same Day” test done right away. The results were to be emailed sometime after 6pm.

From the testing site we got back to our London hotel, retrieved our bags and got ready to go to Royal Albert Hall for 1 last concert, Christmas Carols.

We had arranged with a taxi driver, Liam Ford, that we’d met in back July, to meet at 5pm. We were getting tired, needed to pack one last time, eat dinner, and then leave in the morning.

Liam picked up us right at 5 pm and dropped us off at Royal Albert Hall. As we looked back, we saw a group getting into his cab from the concert that occurred just before ours. We were happy that he didn’t have to drive around for his next passenger.

The concert was a hoot. People sang along. The 12 Days of Christmas had everyone on their feet singing their lungs out. We all sang Five Golden Rings. One balcony had to sing 4 calling birds, the next balcony had to sing 3 French hens, then the area behind us sang 2 turtle doves and we, in the arena sang “and a partridge and a pear tree. There was a huge competition between the groups but I do believe the arena won!

The last song was an encore; “All I Want for Christmas is You”. Many of us were up and dancing in the aisles!

Like the last concert, it was raining when we got out, but this time we knew the drill to get a taxi. Then it was packing everything last minute for the long flight home.

Until the next trip!

Posted by Miss Chris 20:56 Archived in England Tagged stonehenge royal_albert_hall international_travel winter_solstice_stonehenge winter_solstice_sun_rise christmas_carols

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