Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part IV Port of Southampton UK: Cars and Tours

This is part of a new series of blog posts about travelling....starting with a place I have actually visited before: STONEHENGE!

If you missed my previous posts about my dream vacation, here are the links:
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part I Ocean Liner to the UK: Pet Friendly
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part II Cruises: Pets and MOOCs
Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part III Cross Country: Cars and Crystals

As you know if you read my previous articles, my dream vacation is to take my dogs for a walk at Stonehenge. Because I live in California, this scenario has taken quite a bit of strategy on my part to find a way to get to the destination. The strategies were covered in my previous blog posts, ending up with being on an ocean liner. So now it's time to really think about what it would be like arriving on an ocean liner, at a port in England with my dogs.

The last time I visited England it was summertime and I was in my teens. My dad had landed a job in Europe, and touring Europe and Britain was one of the last memories I have of family vacations from my youth. It was more than mere coincidence that we visited England in the summertime. It was strategic planning. One of my parents is from England, and my family was very much aware that harsh regional winter weather exists abundantly throughout the UK.

What I didn't expect, as a teenager who had grown accustomed to packing clothes in layers, was just how cold England can be at any time of the year. In June, while wearing a classic light tan blazer, I felt a little chilly and uncomfortable, even in broad daylight.

It's hard for me to imagine just how cold England is in winter. For this vacation, I'll probably just leave winter to some dark corner of my imagination. Instead, I'll travel during the summer months. Maybe I should pack a couple of sweaters, some boots and a pair of thick socks, just in case it's a little chilly the day I'm there. Yes, you read that correctly. I have one day. It's because, to the best of my knowledge, the ship usually only has a one day layover in Southampton.

Even though I'd prefer to be in England during the warmest months of the year, I might avoid visiting Stonehenge during the summer solstice. This solstice happens sometime in the second half of June, and what with the celebrations that happen at Stonehenge for this event, I expect that there would probably be a lot of tourist traffic at that time. Tourist traffic could slow me down. Definitely, I'll need to be super efficient with my day so my dogs and I will be back on board the ship in time for departure.

I also want to avoid taking a lot of time disembarking with my dogs at Southampton. Both the ship and the UK have very stringent regulations about pet paperwork, vaccinations, health and even pet visas. See my previous posts for more about pet regulations.

Something I'd like to have more clarification on, is exactly what happens when taking ship-approved USA-boarded pets off the ship in England. Are the pets given instant approval, based on paperwork done in advance, or are there more hurdles to clear at the port? Hopefully, the cruise line can answer this question in advance.

I'd like to imagine that that taking the dogs off the ship is relatively simple and easy. In this scenario, I would arrange to have a rental car at the port, and then drive from Southampton port to Stonehenge and back. Travelling may take a little over an hour each way. Or it may be as long as 1-1/2 hours each way. I'll estimate three hours total for driving.

I would like to have about an hour or so to walk my dogs around the area. I don't plan to actually take them inside the monument, because I'm pretty sure dogs aren't allowed on the tours. See my previous posts for more about dogs and Stonehenge. My dogs are pretty small, and we usually don't really cover a lot of ground quickly. Walking around outside, on the public grounds, without actually approaching the monument tour area is fine with us. We may discretely absorb the ambiance from a distance.

If everything goes smoothly, the entire visit can be accomplished in four hours, giving us plenty of time to get back on board the ship. My dogs will be super happy to return to their familiar kennels, after having an exciting adventure walking around the mysterious, ancient monument with me. And as for me, I'll be basking in the glow of a successful adventure.

That was the "perfect day" scene. Now I need a backup plan in case it's not that easy to take my dogs off the ship at Southampton port. What if there is more paperwork for the dogs, long lines, additional required clearances for the dogs and that sort of thing after we actually get to the port in England? What if, in fact, it's not that easy to get my dogs in a rental car and drive to Stonehenge for a walk? What if some regulation requires me to be separated from my dogs? I don't want them out of my sight in a foreign country, not even for a few moments.

Although it's not an ideal vacation, it might be better, by the time I get to England, to let my dogs hang out at the ship's kennels while I go sight seeing without them. It might be fun to be with a group of people on a tour of Stonehenge.
Without the dogs in tow, I may let a professional tour guide do the driving, someone who's experienced at getting tourists back to their ships on time. Relaxing my personal responsibilities, my friends, would be a great vacation for me.

After a week at sea, the dogs would already be used to staying in the kennels on board. No worries about separation anxiety. The kennel attendants would be already be friends with my dogs. They would have a regular day together, with all their regular meals and play time as usual. Who knows? They might not even miss me. They might not enjoy all the hassle of going to a new place, a place they may only visit once in their little lives. At least they would be safe, and well cared for. I wouldn't have to worry about them. It would probably be okay.

Of course, after coming back from that Stonehenge tour, I would probably want to check up on my dogs first thing. I would like to have a chance to do this before changing clothes, and before socializing on the return journey to USA. When my little friends smell all those wonderful, mysterious Stonehenge scents on my boots, I'm pretty sure they would both be just as excited and happy as if we'd gone on the whole Stonehenge adventure together.

Who knows what kind of dreams they might have that evening, and from what time in history? Dogs have such great sensory perceptions. They sense more than we do, and they seem to do it with far less sensory input than we people need.

At this point, after an exciting day at Stonehenge, my dream vacation comes to an end. I've visited Stonehenge and returned to the ship on time. Either I've taken my dogs with me, or I've reconnected with them later in the day at their kennel doggie cabins.

Either way, the dogs and I would be safely aboard the friendly ocean liner and ready for another enjoyable week at sea as we return to the USA. All too soon we will arrive, once again, at the port in New York City. From there we will rent another car and finally, after driving back thousands of miles across the country from this grand journey, we'll arrive back home. And from home, it will be back to regular life in California. The dream adventure of a lifetime is complete.

Or is it? What would happen if I decided to stay in England for awhile with my dogs? Maybe I could have a longer vacation, or maybe there's a overseas job in my future. If my dogs are welcome, my Visa is good, and it's affordable for me, it might be fun to stay on for a few more months. I wonder, though, where would we stay? How many friends would we make? What sort of nice, interesting, exciting and magical adventures might be in store for us?

To be continued...


Drive to Stonehenge and Southampton Review of Golden Tours, London, England - Trip Advisor
www . tripadvisor . com/ShowUserReviews-g186338-d663796-r241295287-Golden_Tours-London_England.html#REVIEWS

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