Magical mysteries of Standing Stones

Mysteries of Standing Stones

Some of my best adventures happened when we got off the main road in search of a local treasure… like standing stones. Standing stones are a record of man’s history and they seem to hold some sort of mysterious magic. I’ve heard it called energy.

Standing Stones

Standing stones are single or groups of stones which are typically upright in position.  But, they are often combined with stones laying horizontally across the top of them.  Think Stonehenge.

Aerial view of Stonehenge standing stones
Stonehenge aerial view

 

Their fascination lies in their age. To someone who has grown up in the Western US, a man-created structure over 100 years of age is extremely rare.  On the east coast, they can trace structures back to the 17th century.

In Europe and the UK, our ancestors have left physical markers that are far older.  Those markers draw visitors by the thousands every year.  To protect popular destinations from damage and vandalism, protectors fence them or limit access.

 Stonehenge

Stonehenge exemplifies a stone circle that is easily accessed and full of history. It’s probably the best known standing stone circle in the world. Started in about 3100BC, history and mystery shroud it.

Stonehenge paths are accessible to all
Paths at Stonehenge are easily accessible to all

Accessed via the A36 and A303 it is about 40 miles east of Bath on your way to London.  Stonehenge receives tens of thousands of visitors. A paved path minimizes human impact on the site.

Two things struck me.  One – it was raining sideways and there is little shelter on the Salisbury Plains.  Be prepared for what mother nature sends you direction.

The second was the extremes.  These magnificent ancient stones erected and placed in a precise manner.  The difficulty of the work had to be incredible.  Then shift your gaze and the A303 freeway is in the background.

The site is handicap accessible and there are visitor facilities available.

I respect the need to preserve, but the restrictions of access felt sad.

The stones are magnificent and impressive, but their majesty feels restricted and distant.

Avebury

Avebury is an even older ring of stones and the largest in the world. It also

offers you a more authentic peaceful experience of the majesty of standing stones.

While you can’t reach Avebury via tour bus… that’s ok.  It means the area gets far fewer visitors and less impact.  Narrow roads and hairpin turns restrict large vehicles.  It’s an entirely different experience.

"Avebury Standing Stone
Massive natural standing stone at Avebury

Avebury’s about 30 miles north of Stonehenge.  It’s a short hop north off the A4 – an old Roman road that used to link London to Bath.

Much of Avebury is within a huge standing stone circle.  Researchers date the stones to 3400BC.  The start of construction had to be 300 years before Stonehenge.  Another difference is the stones.  The stones not smoothed or chiseled like those of its neighbor.  These are natural in shape. The work needed to move them from their quarry two miles away had to be extreme.

Go and Explore

Park your car and go through the gate – mind you don’t let the sheep out. There you are. You and the sheep among the massive stones.

The remaining perimeter standing stones at Avebury seen from aerial view
Avebury seen from aerial view

The outermost circle is 1396 feet in circumference but there is more than one circle here.  Inside this is a second circle which encloses two more circles. They offer guided walks of this Neolithic monument. Or do a self-tour.  There is a great little store in the post office that has lots of useful information on the area available.

The Avebury pub is the only one in the world completely surrounded by a stone circle… It’s  also got a reputation for good food.

No one will rush you here.  Walk the perimeter, enjoy the peace and the energy. Visit with the locals.  Take your time and restore.

 

Travel insurance protection for international travel

Do I Really Need Travel Insurance?

Do the current attacks and events have you a little nervous about travel? It may be time to reconsider travel insurance.

This is a question that has personally confused me over the years. First, how do you know if you need it? Second, how do you pick it?

I think the answer is there are a few “ifs” and a lot you need to check out. Fortunately, it’s getting much easier to know whether you need it, and then to find the right coverage.

What to consider…

Where are you traveling?

If you’re headed to the coast with the kids for a weekend you probably don’t need travel insurance.  Headed down the road to visit Grandma? Same answer.

Frazzled travel planner 

If you are traveling over 100 miles, have to prepay for tickets, expensive events, or a tour, you may want coverage.

Keywords are “prepaid” and “non-refundable”. You can’t get insurance to reimburse you for money you haven’t spent.

If you are flying, you may want coverage in case there are flight delays or baggage issues.

Sit down with pen and paper and add up trip costs that are non-refundable. Things like pre-paid flights, hotel, all-inclusive packages, tour packages and event tickets. This will show you the travel coverage that you need.

International travel

International has more considerations. It’s more expensive and insurance coverage that you have may not cover you.

  • If traveling internationally, you may want to supplement your health insurance. This may also cover emergency medical evacuation. Medicare does not cover international travelers.
  • Are you a regular traveler? You can purchase coverage that covers all your travels in a year. There are some restrictions and caveats.
  • Another way to save on insurance is to cover all family members traveling together on the same policy.
  • Be aware of the limits and exclusions on the policy.
  • Think about extra coverage – for failure of an airline, cruise ship or travel
    Stressed travel researcher

    company.

  • Activity coverage. There are a lot of common tourist activities that are only covered if you request this. You may not ride an elephant or camel at home, but tourists do this. One woman was badly hurt falling off a camel.
  • Winter sports are a lot of fun but can lead to accidents. You need these covered, just in case.
  • “Cancel for any reason” this covers you for all eventualities. This covers you for things that are foreseeable but unavoidable. If you are traveling with a known medical condition, it’s the only way you can get reimbursed for last minute cancellation.
  • What about coverage through my airline reservation? Do some comparisons. These generally are much more restrictive and harder to receive reimbursement on.

Will you be driving internationally? Most travel policies do not cover international car rental. Your existing auto insurance may not cover this. Some credit card benefits do cover international car rental – check it out. But there are specific restrictions you need to be aware of. Reading the fine print is the only way to know.

Select coverage

When you start making reservations, you need to find desired coverage right away. Most companies require you to purchase coverage within 10-21 days of making your initial purchase. If you have additional purchases to make, contact the company.

Once you have decided what you need, you need to go to an insurance comparison website. Three of the leaders are:

  • insuremytrip.ocm
  • squaremouth.com
  • travelinsurance.com

I recently used Squaremouth based on a travel insurance review that I read. The company is top rated and has 44,795 travel insurance reviews. They made it easy to compare coverage and find exactly what I needed. And the price was less than I was expecting to have to pay.

[Note: I have no financial interest in Squaremouth and receive no reimbursement from them.]

Take documentation with you

In addition to your travel documentation, be sure to take copies and contact information for:

Travel documents
  • your travel insurance policy
  • international health care coverage
  • credit card details on international car rental if applicable

Proper insurance coverage will allow you to relax and travel knowing you have it covered.