Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dover Itinerary: Thursday, 15 May 2008

Okay, I thought about all of the day-trips that I could make from London, just to get a taste of the UK from outside of its capital. It's so hard! You feel like you have to go see everything. I wanted to make the pilgrimage out to Winchester to visit the grave of Jane Austen (kiss the plaque above her grave in the cathedral and think about the marvelous work she's shared). I wanted to go out to Salisbury to see Stonehenge (you know you can't even go in the circle of stones--you have to look at it from a paved and partitioned walk-way?). I wanted to see the historical sights in York (the home of Guy Fawkes--"Remember, Remember the fifth of November..."). In the end, you just can't see everything because then you'll miss everything. So I had to choose.

Just look at the White Cliffs. Can you imagine standing on those mountainous white cliffs capped with lush green, smelling the salty air, feeling the wind on your face, listening to the whistles in the harbor, and imagining every sovereign and dignitary crossing the English Channel being greeted by such a sight? This could be zen, guys. I really want to check it out. Dover won.

10:00a Dover castle opens to the public. 70 acres worth of history here, so there's as much to keep busy with as I might want. Because of its geographical location, Dover has been the most important defensive point on the British mainland; its the closest to France. Most every army invasion, most every VIP, most every immigrant in times of old has come through Dover after crossing The Channel. As such, one of the oldest structures in Britain is a stone lighthouse built by the Romans that now stands at the very center of the castle. The compound has a maze of underground tunnels, some used in medieval times and other created for the World Wars. An old Saxon church is contained within the castle walls. The castle stages battle reenactments daily. There's so much to keep busy with.

At some point during the day when the sun is high, I'll exit the castle temporarily and take a short walk over to the trail head that leads to the White Cliffs. I'll have lunch at the tea shop conveniently located at the top of the White Cliffs, then I'll stroll and meditate as long as I want or as long as I don't want. It's all up to me. The trip is drawing slowly to a close, after all, and I do want to take the time to think about everything. This trip was, is, and has been for me. This is time to use my senses and really let myself have as much of this time and scene as I can.

When that's over--I don't want to force the experience or stay too long and overkill on the experience--I'll head back to the castle and finish seeing the parts of the castle that interest me.

5:00p Everything closes, so I'll head back to the train station and catch the next train headed back into town. I dearly hope I'm not exhausted; I'd like to be able to enjoy the experience of the train ride back to London. It's not everyday you get to do such things.

I'll make it back into town just in time for all the shops to close. Depending on what I feel like, I may turn in early, or I may get brave enough to explore the night life (if it's cooth for someone to do that on their own without seeming like a predator).

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