Updated: Jan 13
During my second month in England, I decided to take a train to explore the diverse region of SouthWest England, including the cities of Bristol and Bath, along with Stonehenge. I remember distinctly exploring the fall colours of Bristol and Bath, and taking in the nature from the open plains of Salisbury to exploring the suspension bridge in Bristol. It was my first trip out of Birmingham during my exchange year, and I was most excited to explore the history and cities that I have seen so flamboyantly displayed on television. This fall, I am reminded of the changing leaves in my neighbourhood and it nevertheless brings back to the youthful happiness I felt in my early 20s, especially to that time of me running through the fields in Salisbury and playing with goats grazing on grass. In this pandemic, I want to bring the light to the wonderful memories that I have had in some of the well-known and lesser known cities in the world, because every city has something distinctly unique to offer the world.
Bristol- History and Things to Do
Bristol was the first city that I journeyed to from Birmingham. It is only a short 2 hour train ride from Birmingham New Street station.During history, Bristol was a popular place for exploration out to the new world and it was an active participant in the slave trade at one point. Today, it is a modern city and selected as one of the world’s top ten cities for it's appreciation of nature and greenery.
Bristol is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for Brigg Stow meaning: the meeting place at the bridge.Located in SouthWest England, Bristol is known for it’s green spaces and can testify to that statement - harbouring over 400 parks and gardens. One of the must - see attractions is Clifton Suspension Bridge, built in 1864, offering a spectacular sight and is a symbol of Bristol today. Stroll through the rustic, antique stores in Bristol and you will sure to find some souvenirs to bring back. One of my favourite things about Bristol was the overwhelming sense of relaxation and calmness about the surrounding nature. It was nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the big cities such as London or Birmingham, and come to a city that was down to earth with nature. Another must see attraction that I missed but will come back in the future is the Harbourside dock neighbourhood that has an arrangement of museums,galleries,exhibitions and various bars.
I think we can learn from Bristol that life is meant to be appreciated alongside with nature, and that is why I always try to get out everyday for a jog or a run in a nearby trail.From living in cities, I can understand why rates of depression,loneliness and other cases run high, because some of those conditions are conditions that are formed by the underlying traits of human competition that neglect the person as the whole, forcing people to adopt patterns of behaviour that are detrimental to their health. Architecture today should prioritize on intermixing modern and green elements to create aesthetically pleasing designs, which some cities are adopting now.
Bath-History and Things to Do
Bath is a short 10 minute train ride from Bristol and offers a wonderful historic site to visit and learn from. It is the largest city in the county of Somerset and is named after the Roman Baths.The Roman Baths are one of the most traveled to attractions in the city of Bath that were built by the Romans in the time era 60-70CE and were meant to be a grand bathing and socializing complex. Walk through the Roman remains and listen to the history of the various parts of the complex through a small walkie talkie, and be transported back into time to a different era. I was surprised by the condition that the baths were maintained in and the carefully constructed work of the architects back them. There are also people in costumes that resemble the Roman times when I visited in 2015. It’s grandiose to realize that the human race has come a long way since Roman times, and now we have high rise skyscrapers that rise 50 floors above the ground. This is not to say that human innovation is not good, but rather there are elements that we can adopt from the ancient Romans as well, such as creating outdoor areas to socialize and meet, as many cities are creating as a result of the coronavirus. Another attraction in the city of Bath is the University of Bath, located only a half a hour walking distance from the Roman Baths.The University of Bath is also a great location to wander through, with lovely canals and architecture to look at.If you have been to Budapest and the thermal baths, you can understand influence that the Romans exerted during their time of rule. Although the city of Bath, like many other European cities, is quite small, there is lot of history to unpack in this small city - from the influence of the architecture, to the restaurants and museums.
From Bath, Stonehenge is only an hour by bus and offers diverse resources to learn about one of the world’s oldest pre-historic monuments. A gift shop and self-guided tours are available at the site.Stonehenge is known to be one of the most famous neolithic and bronze age ceremonial locations in the world with over 5000 years of history. Our ancestors were essentially hunter-gathers, but they also had practices to honour the dead and most scholars believe that it was a burial site. Other the years,however, there has been speculation that the monument may have been used by our ancestors to look across into space and observe and predict the lunar eclipses, however the exact usage of the monument is still unknown.The stones are placed in circular shape, and if you explore the surrounding Salisbury region, there are sheep wandering around the plains.
Chelsea Reviews: 4/5
England is a large place that ranges from city like cities such as Birmingham and London, to historic sites such as Bath, and greener cities such as Bristol, each with their own distinctive flair and piece of culture to add to England. I believe it is beneficial for smaller cities to keep their culture alive, because differences in culture is what helps the human race move forward. I have always loved exploring other places because they show us that the world is bigger than ourselves - rather it is an extension of the human culture and how far we have come from prehistoric times. In an era where we are so guarded, we should never disregard the solidarity of the human spirit to bring us together. From the Roman times to the Anglo-Saxons, the spirit of solidarity has never faltered, even throughout wars, the collapse of dynasties and the the changing of societies. Come to SouthWest England for that rustic charm- from the lush gardens of Bristol to the historic appeal of Bath and Stonehenge- and leave with a greater sense of appreciation of the world.