I have a confession to make. Over the past few days my attention has been nearly completely consumed by a little thing called Harry Potter. (I’ve seen the movie twice already. Who knows how many more times I’ll see it?)
I have emerged from the magical world though.
The last 2 days of my trip I had tours purchased. Only Tuesday’s tour had a live guide. I’m not a fan.
I made my way to Victoria Coach Station for the tour and after a bit of a wait boarded the bus.
Though I learned some interesting facts throughout the tour (such as the reminder that the Greenwich Observatory is in London) the tour guide soon started repeating herself and talking about things unrelated to history or culture. I tried to focus on my journal and the beautiful countryside instead.
The first stop on the itinerary was Leeds Castle built during Norman times and rumored to be the place where Henry VIII met Anne Boleyn.
Thankfully we got to tour the inside of the castle on our own.
Funny story about these stairs: (the cellar is the only remaining part of the Norman castle) When I walked up someone else stood there. I waited, camera in hand, for them to move. As soon as they did I stepped up to take a picture but I had to step back because another guy from in front of me pushed past to step up into the stairs. Really?
I took the picture after he moved on and walked through the rest of the castle. I have to admit that this was my least favorite part. For some reason the inside of major houses (or in this case castles) does not interest me much.
The outside of the castle more than made up for the disappointment.
From Leeds Castle we proceeded to Dover. When I booked the tour I booked it mainly because I would get to see the White Cliffs of Dover, a lot of build up for what turned out to be the biggest disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong. The cliffs were beautiful, just not what I had expected. Plus, we stopped for only 15 minutes. I did catch my first glimpse of France though.
That’s Dover Castle on top. I would have loved to see it. Apparently it used to be part of the tour but too many people complained about having to walk a mile or so to get to it. Come on! (Just kidding but I certainly wouldn’t have complained.)
The last stop on the tour was Canterbury. Before touring the Cathedral we ate lunch. On the bus the tour guide talked up a local restaurant as a good option especially for fish and chips. She also downplayed the amount of other options. I figured I would go ahead since I hadn’t had fish and chips yet. Heh.
I paid nearly $19 (11 pounds) for this, plus coffee and dessert (an even worse apple pie) and to top it all off there were so many other options. Oh well.
After lunch we all headed to the Cathedral. Once the tour guide let us all through we were on our own.
I walked through that chapel in awe of the all the beauty of the sculptures, the architecture, the stained class windows and more. Since words fail me I’ll let the pictures speak instead.
While looking through my pictures I can’t find the one of the plaque commemorating the spot where Saint Thomas a Becket was murdered during the reign of Henry VII. (so much history there)
After touring the Cathedral I toured the city, beautiful.
We arrived back in London with plenty of time. I loved that because I got to prepare for the Paris trip and my overnight stay. After a detour to make sure I knew where I was going I ended up at a Starbucks by King’s Cross Station. Well, of course I had to look around even though technically Platforms 9 & 10 are separate.
I found it after walking 3 or 4 blocks on the side of the station. Where was it? Right in front.
Finally, as I got on the Underground for the ride back to the hotel I had to take one last picture. I mean, this was the most common phrase I heard the entire time I was in London.