"Glastonbury-2005 Travelogue" Top 5 Page for this destination Glastonbury Travelogue by Krumlovgirl
Glastonbury Travel Guide: 136 reviews and 434 photos
November 3, 2005
My horoscope for the day:
“If you're involved with someone new at the moment, whether it's platonic or romantic, your friends won't be seeing much of you for the next couple of days. You're in the mood for privacy, but that certainly doesn't mean you'll necessarily need to be alone. In fact, you may end up hibernating with someone in an exotic locale -- or at least making plans for just that. Sounds like far more fun than doing it solo, doesn't it?”
I’m not sure where to start, but I’ll do my best. This entry will be about my trip to Glastonbury.
For those of you not familiar with Glastonbury, it is supposed to be one of the most ethereal religious centers in the world. It draws pagans and Christians alike who are drawn to the Glastonbury Abbey, Chalice Garden, and Glastonbury Tor for a variety of reasons. Some go there for the Holy Grail legends. Some go there for King Arthur legends. Some want to visit a place where the Goddess is prevalent. Some want to find the entrance to fairyland within the Tor. So it’s an interesting place. I went there a couple of years ago as part of a tour that included Stonehenge and Avebury and knew that one day I would want to return.
I didn’t get up there until late Friday evening. It took all day to travel there but thanks to a Classical Studies girl named Mariya I got a lift to Bristol. From there it was only a short bus ride to Glastonbury. I checked into my hostel, a large blue structure in the center of the town, and then went on to search for food. That’s pretty much the first thing I always do when going to a new place. Before I went out I laid out my pajamas and stuff I would need on my bed so that when I came back I wouldn’t have to go through everything.
I ended up having dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was surprisingly good. Since it was right in the center I thought that the food would be of mediocre tourist quality, but it was actually tasty. I ordered the penne arrabiatta, one of my favorite dishes, and had tiramisu for dessert. The waiters were all Italian and very over the top. I sat next to a friendly couple from Cornwall who were in town for the weekend and after a long conversation about the joys of Western Ireland (she went to Inishere as a child to learn Gaelic) they invited me to Cornwall at a later time to visit them. It was a very pleasant evening.
When I returned to my hostel room the lights were out and someone was in one of the beds asleep. I had to use my cell phone as a torch to find my bed and my things. I managed to wash my face and get undressed in the dark, but was not adept enough to take out my contacts. A little while later another girl (we were in an all girls’ room) came in and did the same thing. I was just about to go to sleep when the first woman started screaming in her sleep. Scared the *** out of me. She carried on for most of the night.
The next morning I woke up and met one of my roommates-the girl who had come in after me. She was a cute, perky little brunette with glasses that looked 1950’s style. Her name was Lauren and she was there with her boyfriend, Mike. The hostel hadn’t had enough room for them to stay in a coed dorm so they were split up. She was Wiccan and they were touring around religious places in the UK. They were Canadian. The first thing she told me was that she liked my pajamas. The guys at home like them, too. They’re pink fleece with big blue cats all over them. I don’t know what this is saying about the guys. We talked for a few minutes about the sites and what our plans for Halloween were. She said that she and Mike were going to go on the Tor. That sounded like a nice Halloweenish thing to do and she offered to let me walk up with them if I decided that I wanted to go.
The weather wasn’t great, but it wasn’t raining either so that was good. I didn’t need a coat, but took all of my film, my book, and my journal. I was set. The first place I went to was the Glastonbury Abbey. To read more about the Abbey click http://www.glastonburyabbey.com/. I guess it was early enough in the day that there weren’t many tourists out. Actually, there weren’t any tourists out. I was the only one. For about an hour I had the grounds to myself. It’s very peaceful there and I was glad that I had done some reading up on it before I went this second time. I wish that there were some way that I could describe the height of the structures. That seems to be the one thing that has continuously impressed me. They’re huge. When the doorframes are on a cathedral you tend not to notice them as much, but when they’re part of a ruins it’s difficult not to. I paid my respects to King Arthur and (grudgingly) to Guenivere and spent a little bit of time wandering around the orchard. It is heavily influenced by Christians, but the grounds have a nice feel to them and there is still something a little mysterious about them. After about an hour I started getting stomach cramps and had to find the bathroom. They hit really hard and I had no idea what they could have been from. I hadn’t eaten that day yet.
From the Abbey I walked up the hill towards the Tor and Chalice Gardens. It’s about a mile walk and it’s mostly uphill, but it’s a pleasant walk. I was glad I hadn’t worn my coat.
It’s an amazing site to behold the Tor from a distance. If the town itself hadn’t been so built up I’m sure you could see it from the center. Although it just looks like a hill with a thing on top, there are numerous legends and lore surrounding it and if you go armed with this knowledge it’s almost a spiritual experience looking at it for the first time. I really wanted to go to the Chalice Garden first to miss the crowd, but once I saw the Tor I was drawn to it and had to go on up.
And it IS up. Straight up. I couldn’t do more than two or three steps at a time without stopping to catch my breath, but in my defense I had been sick lately. It’s very difficult to describe, but as you walk upwards toward the tower something really does take over you. It’s like having a rubber band attached to your chest. It just keeps pulling and pulling. Although I was gasping, panting, and sweating like crazy by the time I made it to the top I just wanted to lie down and cry.It’s quite overwhelming. I wanted to do the Tor Labyrinth, but I knew I couldn’t. The lines are 4,000-5,000 years old which puts them on par with Stonehenge. You can see them when you’re walking up (and in some of my photos) and there are many legends attached to them. My favorite is that if you follow them correctly and do it right then the mountain opens up and you are transported into another world. It takes sometimes months of preparations and on average five hours to do it properly. I do not have that kind of physical, or spiritual, training. Maybe one day when I go back.
The wind had a huge part in slowing me down as well. I heard later that it was 40 mph. Every step was a chore and once I made it to the top I saw a woman holding on to her little dog pretty tightly. It was bad. I sat inside the tower for a little while, catching my breath and getting away from the wind. Everyone else had the same idea. While in the tower, I asked if anyone knew of any good pubs at the bottom near the Chalice Garden. A man sitting alone in the corner said that he knew of one called the George and Pilgrim but that it was in town. He described it and it sounded good to me. I thought that would be the end of our conversation but the next thing he said was very strange. The conversation went something like this…
Him: You should really go to the garden.
Me: I was planning on doing that after I left here.
Him: Yes, you really need to go. It’s a pity, though, that YOU have to pay.
Me: Yes, but I guess the money goes to help the upkeep.
Him: Yes, but YOU shouldn’t have to pay.
Okay, did he know something that I didn’t?
On the way back down, the wind was even fiercer and I was regretting the fact that I didn’t have something to munch on with me. I was starving. After about fifteen feet I heard footsteps behind me and soon the man from the tower had caught up with me.
Him: It’s easier going down than it is up, isn’t it?
Me: Yes, as long as a big gust of wind doesn’t come and blow me off.
Him: Don’t worry, you’re sheltered.
With that, he walked around me and down the path and the wind suddenly stopped. The air was deathly quiet and not even a faint breeze fluttered for the rest of my descent.
On the Tor’s website, there’s a nice quote: “Watch people trogging up the hill, and then watch them coming down – singing, chatting, looking bright, and changed.”
To read more about the Tor and some of the history and legends behind it, visit http://www.glastonburytor.org.uk/.
From the Tor I went to the Chalice Garden. You have to turn off your mobiles there and it’s a great place for meditation and quiet reflection. I chose NOT to heed Nicky’s advice and drank from the spring. Several glasses, in fact. The water was unlike any that I have ever tasted. It’s wrought with iron, but it’s incredibly sweet. The water itself is supposed to have healing powers. The Holy Grail is said to be buried under the Chalice Well. The organization runs a fantastic website at http://www.chalicewell.org.uk/home.html. The well has been used for over 2000 years and dates back to Prehistoric times. In that time the spring has not run dry. A nice quote from the web: “To be at the well head, and drink the water and absorb the atmosphere of the place is truly an inspirational experience.” It’s true. The flowers were still in bloom and with the rain holding off I was able to spend a couple of hours on a bench, writing in my journal and enjoying the day. The giftshop is an interesting experience there as well. On one side they have the Christian stuff like rosaries, crosses, and bibles. On the other side they cater to the mystical crowd and offer crystals, spell books, and other witchy things. It’s actually quite nice. I love that about Glastonbury.
Upon leaving the well I walked back into town and had lunch at the place that the Mystery Man told me about. It was inside an old hotel that dates back to the 1500’s. I ate in the pub and my old wooden table had a nice red candle on it. The server loved my southern accent.
I spent the rest of the day walking around town and window shopping. This would be a good time to mention the stores in Glastonbury. I love them. There are more New Age shops on High Street than there are in my entire state at home. With names like the Psychic Piglet, Charm, Mists of Avalon, The Green Man, Witches & Brooms, and Man & Magik you just can’t go wrong. You can buy anything from herbs to crystals to candles and wands. If you’re not into New Age then you can also buy anything having to do with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism. It’s the strangest montage of shopping I have ever seen. The stores themselves are interesting as well. Although some of them are really just commercialized souvenir places, some of them have real honest to goodness energies about them and if you were spell shopping you could get some great stuff. On my trip I ended up buying a pentagram necklace, a wooden box, a silk Indian outfit, and wool pants. Very eclectic.
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