Weekend Update...

Friday morning, we left for our weekend excursion to Leeds Castle/Canterbury/Dover. The bus ride and our driver, Steve, were wonderful. It took about 2.5 hours to get to Leeds Castle...gorgeous. The grounds were amazing and I stood in the same hallways and bedrooms as King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. Some of the students and I spent time touring. Here are some photos of Leeds Castle:

The grounds...



The famous black swans...



The castle...(not a great photo...)



A better photo of the castle from around the back....



King Henry VIII dining hall...



Katherine of Aragon's bedroom (not authentically recreated, but it was still neat to be there!)...



Me...in front of Leeds Castle...



The awesome peacock that opened on command!




After Leeds Castle, everyone boarded the bus (they were always on time, amazingly enough) and we headed off to Canterbury. My first impressions of Canterbury were less than stellar at first. I wandered around for a while (lots of annoying teenagers) and was less than impressed. Then, I happened to wander down an alley and all of a sudden the cathedral was right above me. It was a breathtaking and jaw-dropping moment. My photos will not do it justice. There were also really old buildings all around me. For instance, our hotel dated from the 1400s. I also saw a new age store that was really cool, and heard some good advice from a kid that looked about 14: "You can't help living the life of a fool, but you don't have to marry one and be miserable on purpose." Basically, I only had an hour to explore before dinner at the inn (very good). We invited our bus driver to eat with us and he was a riot! (His name is Steve.) Great guy and lots of fun. The inn is okay, but the walls are like paper.

The next day, we toured the cathedral. I had lunch with one of the students and then I explored and decided to purchase some nice jewelry for my gift to myself on this trip. Anyway, here are some photos of Canterbury:

The outside of our inn...



Just the public library...



The cathedral tower (impossible for me to get a complete shot)...



Corridors in the cathedral...



A "holy crap" moment: Henry IV's tomb! The legend is that when his body was to be brought by ship to Canterbury that the sailors were scared of bad luck and threw his body overboard, replacing it with a new body once they landed. However, many years ago, curators opened the tomb to see. It was really Henry and his hair was still red and everything! However, when the air hit the body, it promptly disintegrated...



A carving of a young Queen Victoria on the outside of the cathedral. There were carved statues of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Edward VI, etc....but, of course, I had to get Victoria!...




After Canterbury, we were off to Dover Castle and the secret war tunnels. I really liked Dover, but we couldn't get a picture of the cliffs. It wasn't on our schedule even though our bus driver tried his best to get us to a spot (too crowded). Anyway, the castle was off limits due to renovations (very disappointing). Also: DON'T GO IF YOU AREN'T IN GOOD SHAPE. All up hill...even coming back, which didn't quite make sense to me....:

Dover Castle...


Again...


A tower built around 1 A.D.....


"Windblown" Susie...


View of the channel...


The entrance to the war tunnels...


There are actually three layers of tunnels (WWII, Napoleonic War tunnels, and some much older.) The tunnels are kind of like a Disney attraction, complete with air raid sounds, artillery sounds, flashing lights, and smells. It was okay, but I could skip it. However, the guys loved it. Definitely a guy thing. I loved the castle, but they were working on the keep so we couldn't go in to look. Also, here is another tip: DON'T BUY THE COFFEE at the concession stand near the tunnels. It wasn't good and I do question the cleanliness (a rarity around here).

After Dover, we were on the bus for about 1.5 hours and stopped at a nice "services" station for food and rest. When we got back on the bus, our program director and another professor had a freestyle contest (hilarious!) and we rode back to Oxford. It was raining and cold when we returned, but that was okay because we didn't have a drop on our trip!

My overall impression of the weekend: we are extremely lucky with the students so far. Also, I love Oxford more than any other place. It is a piece of art.

Comments

James said…
Amazing!

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