Genevieve Rice is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An English Literature major at Anderson University, she is studying abroad in London this semester.
In this week's post, Genevieve goes on a full-day excursion to Bath and Stonehenge with CAPA London and also sees her Jane Austen dreams come to life.
I have learned some very valuable lessons while being in London, even though I have only been here for around two weeks. One of my favorite of these lessons is how to make the most of the weekend. In this huge city, it is important to take time to rest and prepare for the week ahead in whatever way suits your personality. It is also important to take time to do something that you truly enjoy. Thankfully, in the first few weeks in London, CAPA does an amazing job of giving us opportunities to have fun and explore the country that we chose to make home for three months. This past Saturday, CAPA did this through our first day trip. We have two of these throughout the semester and they are a part of a tour that is included in the CAPA London Program. It is the first time that I left the city since arriving in London, and it was well worth giving up the whole day.
It took some courage, but I asked these kind men
to take a picture with me to complete my Austen morning.
We went to Bath and Stonehenge, which are both amazing places. However, Saturday happened to be a very special day to visit Bath. This weekend was the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, and since Austen is my favorite author, I was absolutely thrilled. As soon as we stepped off the bus, we could see people walking around in Regency dress and the militia’s parade was going by. It was a dream come true for an Austen fan.
The Roman Baths are full of history...and healing hot spring water,
which, surprisingly, doesn't taste that bad.
The rest of the day was just as marvelous as the first five minutes. Bath is now one of my favorite cities that I have ever been to. It lacks the hustle and bustle that London does so well. The people who live there move at a different pace than in London. Historically, Bath was a city of health and restoration, and that translates even today. There are people walking dogs and actually stopping to listen to the assorted performers busking in the squares.
The Pump Room in Austen's time was a place for dancing and socializing.
Today, it's a must-see restaurant for any Austen fans.
The Pump Room and Roman Baths that was renowned for socializing and healing the sick are still standing in the middle of town. They are still a gathering place for the city, and I sat in the square for a while, just watching the parade of people who came to ‘take the waters’ of Bath. History and the present truly mix in Bath in a way that is unlike London. While London is constantly rebuilding and mixing the old with the new, Bath maintains a unique sense when you walk around a street corner, you may be walking not only onto a new street, but back into the past.
History clothes these stones, adding to the intrigue of their mysterious origins.
After our few hours in Bath, I thought I had seen British countryside, which is green and beautiful, but when I arrived at Stonehenge I knew that I had entered into a new kind of countryside. While Bath mixes the present with the past, Stonehenge sits in a time all its own. It helped that the day we were there it was quite overcast and there were ravens everywhere, adding to the ominous mood of the giant stones. The monumental rocks pose a mystery as no one knows how they came to be there or even why. The feeling that anything could happen perpetuates the surrounding countryside. The stones are situated in a field, equipped with adorable sheep, with the rolling hills creating an open expanse of nature, almost as blank and powerful as the sea. If magic was possible anywhere, it would be possible at Stonehenge, a home for fairies and ghouls alike.
The most appealing aspect of Stonehenge for quite a few tourists
were the many adorable sheep that live in a pen next door.
The escape from the crowds of London was a welcome gift of the weekend; the meandering crowds of Bath and Stonehenge created a nice variety after being almost consumed daily in the city. I swear, no matter how quickly I walk, and I don’t dawdle, even the smallest Londoner child can pass me—and has passed me—when I am walking to and from the underground. Although I enjoy the speed and excitement of the city, it is always nice to have an escape—mentally and physically. Not only did Stonehenge and Bath offer a break from my physical surroundings, they also offered a mental escape into the imagination, first to the world of Austen and then into the mysterious history of the ancient past. Weekends aren’t always meant for travel, but this first venture beyond the city limits was a success.
Genevieve's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.