Canterbury Tales

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Amy and I were in for a special Easter treat this year in England. Our friend Fran invited us to her uncle's house in Canterbury for a BBQ so, in addition to seeing some sights, we would also be having good food.

The event started off at Charing Cross station where we narrowly missed boarding the train to Canterbury.  Of course, we were on the "slow" train which made a plethora of stops along the way.  In addition, this train also split in half partway through the journey so we had to ensure that we were seated in the correct carriages or we’d be sent in the wrong direction upon the train’s divergence.  It didn’t take terrible long to venture out to historic Canterbury though, and we kept ourselves occupied with a few crosswords from the local paper in the meantime.

Canterbury lies southeast of London in the county of Kent, and is a proper English town with a little over 40,000 residents.  The town also has a history spanning back as far as the 1st century.  You may already be familiar with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Middle English classic Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century, in which a group of pilgrims migrate from Southwark, London to Canterbury Cathedral telling stories along the way.  Canterbury suffered over 10,000 bombings during WWII; however, many of the town’s most historic structures managed to survive, including the city walls, Canterbury Cathedral, and the Norman Canterbury Castle.  As we made our way through the city, it was hard to miss the giant stones gates that used to protect the city that still stand prominently today.

Our first stop on our Canterbury tour was the Canterbury Cathedral which, thankfully for us, was free to visitors for the day because of the Easter holiday.  Before we even arrived at the cathedral, we were greeted with the large Christ Church Gate that formerly restricted access to the cathedral centuries ago.  The cathedral has its origins in the 7th century when it was first founded and is one of the oldest in England, but has dramatically been changed and enlarged over the coming centuries to what it is today.  We wandered around the cathedral and the surrounding grounds before heading back out into town.

The walls that surround Canterbury have been somewhat modernized over the years and incorporated into a park.  The tops of the walls are paved and create a leisurely walk around the city.  As we walked around the walls, I noticed a little note that someone had taped to a sign that had weathered away.  The new sign was fairly clever, I must say; however, it might have had more impact if it weren’t riddled with typos.

The wall led us to Dane John Mound that has a pillar at the top of it.  We decided that, instead of walking around the spiral, we would just climb directly up the mound, with varying degrees of success.  Once we managed to climb to the top, we were treated to a fantastic 360 view of the town the surrounding area.  The skyline of Canterbury is dominated by the Cathedral, as all good English towns are.

Our last site on our quick tour of Canterbury was the Norman Canterbury Castle dating from the at least the 13th century.  Not much of the castle remains these days but the walls and a few remnants of the spiral staircases.  When we visited, there was a girl up on one of the balconies partaking in a very pitiful photoshoot that Amy and I parodied extensively later (though on Amy’s camera, not mine).

After all our sightseeing, we meandered to Fran’s uncle’s house where were had a huge Easter feast.  Her family was so generous, and it was one of the few times I ate well in England.  Her uncle’s wife even “forced” us to take Cadbury eggs home with us, something that I did without hesitation.  In the end, Canterbury is a really good day-out of the city, and is an excellent little English town with just the right amount of things to see and do for a day trip without overexerting ourselves (like we were doing every day in London).

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