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The Travel Map - October 2008

Stonehenge - Be awestruck

October 28th 2008 05:24
Was it an ancient burial site, or a site for human sacrifice? Perhaps it is where ancient pagans went to worship?

Whatever Stonehenge’s original purpose, it is still a remarkable structure. It is thought Stonehenge was built between 3100BC and 1600BC. Imagine how difficult that would have been, with no trucks to transport the huge stones, and no cranes to lift the slabs, and balance them on top of each other. Something to ponder as you gaze in awe, at this magnificent structure.

Stonehenge is located in the Wiltshire area just 10 miles from Salisbury, and about an hour’s drive from Bath. There is plenty of car parking near the site. If you don’t want to drive, you can get a coach from Salisbury or Bath. When we visited, we did it as a day trip from London. Our ticket included a return trip to Salisbury by train, and the coach trip from Salisbury station to Stonehenge. There is an additional fee to enter the grounds.

Stonehenge is clearly visible from the road, and it is easy to just park and view it, without actually paying for the privilege. The stones are roped off, so you cannot get right up close and touch them anyway. What you do get for you entrance fee though is an audio tour.

English Heritage members and members of the National Trust get in free. For more information about getting there and opening times, see The English Heritage website.



Edinburgh Castle, UK

October 21st 2008 05:38
Sitting on top of Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh.

It is thought, that Malcom III and his Saxon Queen first built a castle on this spot around the 11th century. All that remains of this original structure is St Margaret Chapel.

After being conquered and rebuilt a number of times, the castle that stands on the site now, dates back about 300 years.

The Castle was built mainly for military purposes and, most of the displays inside are a testament to its military past, which can be a turn off for a number of visitors. It is home to the famous Scottish National War Memorial, the Scottish United Services Museum.

Some of the other highlights include: Queen Marys apartments where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI of Scotland (later James I of England), and the Scottish crown jewels.
There are guided tours available as well as audio tours in several different languages.

If you are not interested in looking inside the castle, it is worth going up to Castle Rock. On a clear day, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of Edinburgh and its surrounds, so take your camera.

Edinburgh castle

Get on your Soapbox in Hyde Park London

October 19th 2008 21:30
A great way to spend a Sunday morning in London is at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. Located at the North East end of the Park near Marble Arch Tube Station, Speakers Corner allows people to speak on any subject without fear of legal repercussions, unless of course you are talking about the monarchy, or over throwing the British Government.

You do not need an invitation to speak just a passion for your subject. The morning I visited, I heard discussions and debates on range of topics, from the state of moral decline in society, to the war in Iraq, as I moved from one group to the next. Of course, there were also the extreme Christians.

At first, you may think that it is just nutters having a rant, and there certainly a few of those, but listen closely, there are some very clever speakers who really know their stuff. Some of the more well-known people who have rallied at Hyde Park are Karl Marx, Orwell, and Lenin.

There is plenty of crowd participation to, as visitors debate and heckle with the speakers.

I have been told that the origin of the saying “On your Soapbox” originates back to the 1870s when there used to be a Sunlight Soap Factory across the road. Factory staff used to bring the wooden soapboxes over to speakers corner to use as a platform. Nowadays speakers stand on stepladders but the debates are no less intense or passionate.

Travel is all about meeting and learning about other people. I walked away from speakers corner feeling mentally stimulated, and privileged at having the opportunity to glimpse the workings of other people’s psyches.

What ’s more, this one of the very few free performances you are going to see in London.



Things to Do in London For Free

October 16th 2008 00:21
With credit crunches, volatile stock markets, and talk of recession, it’s only natural for people to be a bit nervous about spending money at the moment. So I have made a list of 5 things to do in London that are free!

1. Visit a museum
[ Click here to read more ]

The London Eye

October 2nd 2008 05:51
For the best view of London and the surrounding area, take a ride on the British Airways London Eye.

The Eye, which opened in March 2000, has quickly become one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, and it is not difficult to understand why. On a clear day, you can see for up to 25 miles

[ Click here to read more ]

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