Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weekend Travels

This past weekend I traveled all across the southern countryside.  On Friday and Saturday the program offered day trips to two locations each day.  On Friday we visited Stonehenge and Bath.  This was my second time to Stonehenge, but I still enjoyed it.  It was quite windy on the Salisbury plain, but it stayed dry.  Not so in Bath.  We got some scattered showers while we were out wandering.  I saw the baths, the Regency architecture and visited the Jane Austin Centre.  Two of my fellow LIS students and I decided it would be a good idea to be indoors for a bit, so we walked back to the Centre.  It had a Regency tearoom on the upper floor so we stopped there for tea and lunch.  We dried out from our brushes with the rain and warmed up with good tea.  I got the Jane Austin blend and enjoyed it.  I also got my photo taken with Mr. Darcy (the portrait of Colin Firth.)  We headed back outside to meet the bus and the clouds darkened on the walk.  It started to rain, and then it poured as we stood and waited.  We tried an umbrella shield but it didn’t work too well.  The bus ended up being very late and we ended up soaked.  The fact that it took us four hours to get back to the flats just made things worse.  We arrived back in London after 9 pm, after having set out at 8 am.  I was cold and just wanted to get off the bus by the end of it. 

Saturday had better weather.  Less people turned out for the second trip than the first.  From the complaining Friday night it sounded like several of them were not willing to suffer a long bus ride again.  I was not deterred both because the trip was to two places I’d never been to and because these locations were a shorter distance away than Bath.  We first went to Dover Castle then on to Canterbury.  Dover Castle was a good castle, extensive lands, nice walls, and had areas from all across history.  It has a Roman lighthouse, a Saxon church, medieval tunnels, and WWII bunker tunnels.  We climbed the keep and could see pretty well across the Channel, we thought we could see the French coastline.  After a couple of hours we got back on the bus and headed to Canterbury.  I paid to see the cathedral, had lunch at a café, walked on the wall, and saw the old Norman castle.  Our entrance fees to both Stonehenge and Dover had been waived because we were an educational group.  So I decided to go ahead and see the cathedral, since two other sites had been free.  We had amazing weather on Saturday and we actually arrived back in London by 7pm, and had enough energy to do something before crashing.

Sunday afternoon I went to Windsor Castle with a friend.  It was nice to not have to get up early and sit on a bus for hours on end.  The train ride took about an hour, with lots of stops.  The weather was nice once again and we were able to avoid the huge queue since we had pre-purchased our tickets.  We were able to see the royal apartments and state rooms.  We spent a couple of hours seeing the sections that we could see, although we avoided the doll house exhibit, both because of the long queue and because neither of us had an interest in seeing it.  After the castle we got lunch and tea and the Crooked House of Windsor and then headed back to London.  I had a good weekend, full of traveling and seeing castles, churches, and old stones.

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