We have been back in the US for over two months now, and I have been meaning to post a blog entry, but have been unsatisfied with everything I write. There are many subjects I have thought of writing about: our trip to Stonehenge and Kew Gardens on our last day in London; our flight home to Phoenix; our drive home to Indiana; thoughts about living in Greece in general and the town of Rafina in particular; things we liked about living in Europe and things we missed about the US; a travel guide for visiting Athens, Prague, London, Bergen, and Edinburgh with young kids; tips for traveling with young children; how L1 and L2 behaved and grew on our travels; what was most memorable about our the past months; and how it feels to be home. Maybe I have too many ideas running through my head to make a cohesive entry. Maybe my thoughts about our trip have changed as the freshness of our European memories recede. Whatever the case, in an effort to break through my writer’s block, I am narrowing this blog post to an update of Stonehenge and Kew Gardens.
On our last day in England, we booked a bus tour to Stonehenge (3000-1500 BC). I’m so glad that I finally got to see this most famous of archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage sites, although the two hours allowed on our tour was not nearly enough time to explore it. Simply being there in person, in the shadow of Stonehenge was remarkable. Beyond that, what made an impression on me was seeing the barrow mounds on the horizon all around Stonehenge. Stonehenge was associated with burials and cremations from its start during the Neolithic, and later barrow mounds from the Bronze Age can been seen in all directions. I suppose one of the big reasons why I love visiting places in person, rather than virtually through pictures is that it changes the way I think of a place, Stonehenge in this case, from a zoomed-in, solitary image, to a larger one in a broad framework including the geography of the place as well as sounds, scents, and feel. The boys had no interest in stones that they were not allowed to climb on, but were happy to play in the wide, grassy field surrounding Stonehenge.
As we returned to London, our bus driver and tour guide, Benson, kindly dropped us off at Kew Gardens. We had only a few hours to stroll through the gardens and they were lovely; but I have to say that the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Desert Botanical Gardens are still my favorites. J loved the treetop walkway at Kew, a metal platform built several stories high so you can walk in the tree canopy. The boys liked the tram ride that we shared with a friendly group of older visitors, who were patient with L1’s insistent chatter. I was excited to glimpse a golden pheasant, though I didn’t get my own picture.
Next up: travels home.
By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons