Home -> Europe -> United Kingdom -> Travelogue United Kingdom -> 16 September 2005
Friday 16 September, visit to Canterbury and suddenly back to home
To be sure, we ask at breakfast if there isn't a room available for the next night, but alas, we will have to search again. But first we are going to visit the last city on our wish-list, Canterbury. It is not very cold and it seems to get a bit warmer. The sun shines a bit, rains falls now and then, an appropiate ending for a holiday in Great Britain.
Canterbury is best known for its cathedral where Thomas a Becket was murdered in 1170, commisioned by the king, an outrageous thing to do in those times. Churches were refuges in those times and even real criminals couldn't be just dragged from a church to face trial, let alone be murdered. And Becket was the archbishop! But the whole center of Canterbury is certaiunly worth a visit and we walk around a bit first, then have a coffee which is much better than at Hastings yesterday.
We have to pay an entrance fee for the cathedral but there is a clear explanation why this is necessary and almost an apology that it is. In a case like that we have no problems paying the fee (only a few punds). On the outside the cathedral looks already very impressive but the inside is even better: large halls with lots of decoratrion and everywhere tombs of nobles and archbishops.
When a priest with a microphone asks for silence to pray for all victims of terrorism, nature disasters and other human suffering, we just stand on the place where Thomas a Becket was murdered more than 800 years ago on orders of his former friend. It feels rather symbolic and we can sympathise totally with the prayer. Why would any human want to hurt another human being?
Soon after being murdered, Thomas became a saint and Canterbury a place of pilgrimage. About 1400 AD Chaucer described a few of these pilgrims and the stories they told to each other, the Canterbury Tales. In the museum with the same name we make a trip through 14th century Canterbury with some of these tales depicted and told, very nicely done.
The town was heavily damaged by air raids in the second world war, but still the center looks very medieval with lots of old houses. We visit one of them, the Eastbridge Hospital of St. Thomas waar poor pilgrims were housed during the Middle Ages, a sort of mediavel salvation army. Nowadays, a large part of the building is rented as apartments for elderly people and we doubt if they are poor.
The town is not very big and we take our time to walk through it, taking a break now and then. Toi the right Sir John Boy's House with a strange and crooked doorway from the 17th century. We also spend some time looking for a branch of Liberty's which is placed in the top 3 attractions of our Globus travel guide for south England (with a treasury full of souvenirs and gifts we are told), but he neighbours tell us they don't exist anymore for several years.About 3 we leave Canterbury, we have seen enough here. We drive to Dover and first have a look at the castle and the chalk cliffs, now we should go into town and look for a place to spend the last night. But we look at each other and we both have the feeling this holiday is ready now, and we are ready to go home. So we take another look at the cliffs and the harbour when Teije suddenly takes the reservation form for the ferry. We sail tomorrow, at a quarter to twelve, but we are ready now... And we don't want to spend hours again looking for a place to sleep (probably for too much money), spend the whole night on a hotel room and then hang around the whole morning before we can finally leave and then drive hours just to go home. We want to go now!
So we telphone to the number on the form and yes, there is a possibilty to leave today! At 5.30 when we pay € 28 extra, at 4:30 when we pay € 100 extra. But if we now change the reservation into the the half past 5 boat we could drive there immediately and tell the officer on duty that the lady from the reservation told us so. And indeed, it is no problem. So we pay € 28 extra and sail at 4:30 English time. In about 2 hours, at 7 (Dutch time) we leave the harbour of Calais.We feel great to end this holiday in this way, a bit unexpected, but exactly when we were ready for it to end. Four weeks was enough and we had enough of looking for hours every night to find a suitable place to sleep, the weather wasn't very nice and we really look forward to see our children and especially our granddaughter again.
It is very quiet on the roads and it takes us less than 5 hours to drive the 520 kilometers from Calais to Groningen. Just before midnight we arrive back home.
It has been a great experience to see more of Great Britain and although we have seen a lot of new things, we also have missed a lot. People are saying already to us: oh, you have been to that area, have you seen that or that...? But no, there are quite a lot of things that we didn't see, just because we spend only 4 weeks in the whole of Great Britain. We have just done a quick tour through the country, travelling from north to south, but what we have seen was surely worthwhile. Now we first need to have a break from holidays and have some rest...