Hello all! This weekend was one that involved A LOT of walking up lots and lots of hills. Because I thought it would be a good idea to look at a castle on a giant hill and then hike across some cliffs. My legs are very sore.
Saturday morning I went over to St Pancras, one of the train stations here in London and bought a ticket to Dover! Dover is on the southern coast of England and is famous for its cliffs. The White Cliffs of Dover to be more specific.
After a quick hour train ride, I arrived in Dover and wandered around until I found somewhere that had a map. Mind you, I did very little planning for this particular adventure, which is quiet a foreign concept to me. I’m quite good at (over)planning things, so I felt a lot like Bilbo Baggins deciding to follow Gandalf on this one.
Anywaaaay. So, once I found a map, I went up to Dover Castle. Literally, up. I walked up the steepest, longest hill I have ever seen. I had to stop half way there just to catch my breath.
But the castle was quite nice! It wasn’t quite as interactive or detailed as, say the Tower of London, but it was still cool to see the castle. Since it was high on hill, you could see for miles – out into the countryside, along the shoreline, and over the sea. (I guess that’s good castle strategy, but still, did the hill have to be that high?) It also had some really neat (also scary) underground tunnels that you got to walk through. I felt very Indiana Jones-y with my backpack wandering around through medieval tunnels.
After the castle, I walked back down and explored the city center (excuse me, centre, in proper English.) I found a coffee shop and grabbed a hot chocolate so my fingers and ears could thaw out. The weather was actually beautiful that day. The sun was out and it was pretty warm for March in England, but when you’re on the top of a very tall hill next to a giant body of cold water, the wind is a bit brisk. Once I could feel my fingers again, I took a taxi up to the Cliffs, per the advice of the lady at the visitor’s center. Apparently, they’re renovating the footpath up and I didn’t want to get lost or hit by a car, so I shelled out the 6 quid for the cab. (Ooh, new English word. Quid is slang for pounds. Like the way bucks means dollars.)
The White Cliffs of Dover National Trust site spans several miles of the coast line. You can hike all the way down to an old lighthouse that has been converted into a tea room. Its a solid 45 minute trek down to the lighthouse, so I thought I deserved a cup of tea for making it. Unfortunately, the tea room did not agree. They had closed thirty minutes before I got there. (Note to self, check opening times on these things.)
Other than not getting my cup of tea, the Cliffs were amazing! The view was beautiful, no matter which way you were looking. You could see out over the water and the beautiful white cliff faces. The land up to the cliff is all farm land and green pastures. The trails across the cliffs are just worn out lanes where people have walked before. On the way back, I took a different path, “the path less traveled” you could say, and found little hidden walk that looked like it went all the way down to the beach. I didn’t venture too far because there was a sign that said “no access due to cliff fall” which sounded scary.
“There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover tomorrow, just you wait and see.” – Walter Kent and Nat Burton
While it was a lot of walking and lots and lots of hills, I would definitely recommend going to Dover, even if you just take a hike across the cliffs. It is a beautiful place, a once in a lifetime experience.
“The cliffs of England stand, glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.” – Matthew Arnold
Today, I went down to Camden Market for a bit. Camden is one of the most popular markets here in London and can be little eccentric. But I just wandered around the stalls and shops for a bit. I grabbed some lunch from the food section, which boasted foods from all over the world! I may have cheated with my worldly cuisine a little – I had Polish kielbasa and potatoes. But it was sooo good. Then for dessert I had ice cream from a shop called Chin Chin Labs. They specialize in ice cream frozen using liquid nitrogen. I had an ice cream sandwich and it was mighty delicious.
Tomorrow, after work, I’ll be heading to a venue in Soho right after work to watch one of my favorite artists from back home, Sam Hunt, play a show. Then on Tuesday, I’m helping one of my co-workers lead a tour group we have coming in from the US to Windsor Castle. (Okay, so I may be doing more following and less leading, but I can sure pretend to know how to get around London pretty darn well.)
This next weekend will be another busy one again – I’m going to Paris on Saturday! It’s just for one day, but I have to be at the train station at 6 am to meet my group. I’m definitely napping on the train over. But I’ll get to spend all day in Paris, which should be pretty interesting! I’m already making a list of all the sights I want to see (and all the food I want to eat, which is mostly just bread and macarons.)