Stonehenge Stone Circle

Stonehenge Stone Circle

It was raining and dreary when we arrived in Portsmouth on Wednesday, day 125. We took an hour-and-a-half bus trip through several villages to Wiltshire where Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site, is located. Once we were there, it didn’t rain but there were strong winds. We listened to the audio guide as we slowly walked around the Stone Circle of this 4,500-year-old prehistoric temple with the stones carefully aligned with the movements of the sun. We learned that the Stone Circle is a masterpiece of engineering, and building it would have taken huge effort from hundreds of well-organized people using only simple tools and technologies. About 5,000 years ago the Neolithic earthwork was formed. A henge is a ring-shaped bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank. During the late Neolithic period about 2,500 BC, the larger sarsens and smaller bluestones formed the Stone Circle.  Sarsens are 60-million-year-old silicified sandstone blocks up to 30 feet tall and weighing more than 30 tons. 43 bluestones remain and weigh between 2 and 4 tons each. Later, in the Bronze Age, round barrows or burial mounds started appearing nearby. The iconic structure called Stonehenge is a wonder of the world, a spiritual place and a source of inspiration. The Visitor Center offers archaeological objects. We had limited time with the audio-visual presentation. We made a quick tour of the reconstructed Neolithic houses outside the Visitor Center before returning to our bus. On the return trip we passed through New Forest National Park where we saw ponies, donkeys, and cattle. We enjoyed our visit to Stonehenge, an unexpected opportunity on our world cruise.

Spinnaker Tower

Spinnaker Tower

While dining in the Restaurant, we passed the Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Fort Blockhouse, and the Portsmouth Solent Wheel. After dinner we sat in the Explorers’ Lounge while we cruised through the Solent Strait. We passed Yarmouth and saw the Hurst Fortress. Heather Clancey is an extraordinary cruise director. Boy, she’s also a great performer! She headlined our evening entertainment and aced it!

Four chess players fought it out Thursday morning, day 126. I attended Peter Hawthorne’s lecture on “Lord Horatio Nelson,” Britain’s hero at the Battle of Trafalgar. We attended the port talk on Greenwich, our stop tomorrow. A grand farewell for 2019 Viking world cruisers was held in the Star Theater with the return of the first captain and introduction of all crew members. This was followed by a superb performance by the UK vocalist Toni Warne. One of our final dinners was with friends developed on this cruise in Manfredi’s special dining room where we celebrated two birthdays.