Slideshow of Canterbury, Dover Castle and White Cliffs!
We didn’t arrive back in London from Stratford-upon-Avon until 2:00am and had to turn around and be back on the bus at 8:30am for a day trip to Dover and Canterbury.
Our day started with a visit to Dover Castle in Kent, England. There has been some type of castle at Dover since before Roman times. The castle protects the stretch of coast closest to the continent of Europe. The architecture of the castle reflects the concept that battles are won on the open field, and that retreat to a castle is the last stand. Dover castle’s older defenses are more concerned with attacks from land; the WWII defenses are concerned with attacks from sea. The sites of the Roman Pharos (lighthouse) and Saxon church are the oldest parts of the castle being almost 2,000 years old.
Dover Castle sits high above the White Cliffs of Dover along the English Channel. Across the channel you can (barely) see France. The cliffs are white because they are mostly chalk. As we were leaving our bus driver drove down by the Channel and came back up along the cliffs so we could get photos of the White Cliffs of Dover.
I was grateful for the opportunity to see the ocean and (sort of) see Europe for the first time.
Next we went to Canterbury, the town that inspired Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Medieval Cathedral draws large crowds of tourists to Canterbury. There has been a cathedral on this site since the 600s.
gate to cathedral grounds
I skipped the long line to the Cathedral and walked around High Street with its many shops and cafes. I did some great shopping in Canterbury and really enjoyed the picturesque streams and buildings. I even saw a liberal side to Canterbury with its Fair Trade giftshop and radical YMCA and women's centre, but overall I felt Canterbury was too touristy.
timber-framed buildings of Tudor England
City Fish Bar lived up to it's name
I’m always happy to get back to the city and I miss London terribly when we are away on these day trips. Tonight I heard about a concert of a German industrial band called KMFDM and the show is near Camden Town. Got dressed up, left a note for my friends about where I’m going, and jumped on the Tube to get to the show. I really liked the venue, O2 Academy Islington; it was small, but intimate. It was great to see KMFDM; I had always wanted to see them. The goth scene is very vivid in London, and I got to see a lot of different styles. Your ticket to the show also got you in free to the afterparty at the club Slimelight. This club had two different bars with a slight difference in the type of gothic rock coming from each room. The club didn’t even get busy till right at Midnight (the witching hour) and was really going by 2am. I guess they were open until 6am, but I found my way to the Knight bus long before then.
Since the Tube stops around Midnight, I’m grateful for my adventures on the Knight Bus. Riding the night bus in London truly does feel like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter. Hold out your wand, I mean, Oyster Card. You are surely to be eyed suspiciously by dark characters before boarding the tall, red, double-decker. Once you are in the top deck, front seat, the excitement really begins. The bus bumps, twists, turns and speeds through the city nearly missing bikes, cars and buildings. You wonder if the bus will topple over as it takes turns on narrow roads, but then it comes to a screeching halt right outside my dorm in Waterloo! Whew!
The Knight Bus
photo from findhogwarts.com
I constantly feel like Dorothy from Kansas, skipping along the yellow brick lane, somewhere over the rainbow. But pretty soon when I tap my heels and say ‘no place like home,’ the Wizard’s hot air balloon will take me home,... right to Stamford Arms dorms in Waterloo.
Pictures of Canterbury, Dover Castle and White Cliffs!