GET OFF THE GRASS!
I have one of the worst concepts of geography – I need visuals. So, naturally, I feel like an idiot for depriving you of a map of where I am! Back up and pretend you saw this when I got here a month ago…You’re secret’s safe with me.
Now that we know where I started, let’s talk about travel! Almost everyone who travels outside the U.S. has the same goal: See as much as humanly possible in the time allotted. It’s like: “If I’m going to make it through that annoyingly long plane ride, I’m going to do as much as I can while I’m here.” Right? Right. Sleeping is overrated.
Having been in Canterbury for a month (ah already?!) I’m finally feeling settled in, but I NEED to start checking off things on my never-ending list of places to see! Thankfully, coming with IFSA-Butler makes it easier because they pre-arrange field trips for us! Once you get to London, everything is already paid for so I don’t have to make myself feel bad for spending money – talk about the perfect way to travel. I’m quickly realizing how stressful trip planning is, so having a day already planned out for me is just my cup of tea (see what I did there?). So, where to first?
Adventure #1 (Saturday, February 2nd): Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle! The day began early with a bus to London at the crack of dawn (5:40am, to be exact!) to arrive in London by 8:30am (London by train is only 50 minutes, but going by coach is about half the price (about $16 dollars for a return trip). I don’t want to bore you with details, but I’ll give you an overview as best as I can before your eyelids start drooping.
→ Hampton Court Palace – This is the former residence of King Henry VIII…yeah, the guy who beheaded everyone. I wish I could entertain you with fun history facts, but bear with me, I’m a biology major…What I can tell you is that this castle definitely suprised me. Before going, I was excited, but didn’t think much of seeing “yet another castle”. I was dumb. You walk into a huge courtyard first and then as you continue on, you see the kitchen, dining room, and chapel that Henry and the royal family used. This inside is nice, but the outdoor gardens are the real stars of the show. Maybe it’s because I’m a nature freak, but seeing these fountains, trees, and endless rows of shrubs was so picture perfect – and the sun we had made it even better! I would recommend this site if you travel to England, but only if it’s not more than an hour out of the way – it’s nice to see though!
→ Windsor Castle – Now THIS is the breadwinner. Located about 40 minutes outside of London, this is where Her Majesty spends her weekends. We went on a Saturday, so you can bet I was keeping my eyes peeled. Apparently, she refers to Buckingham Palace in London city as the office, while Windsor Castle is Home. She has her own separate entrance, of course, and you aren’t allowed near the wing of the castle she’s actually in (DARN), but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t freaking out that she was within a mile’s radius. Winning. But really, if you have a chance to visit England, this is a MUST see. Some of the rooms are only open during certain seasons (since Her Majesty holds events in them), so be sure to check when’s best to go! Getting into the castle itself is about a $26 ticket, but it’s worth every penny. You are able to walk through drawing rooms, throne rooms, you name it. So think about it:
Plane ticket to London: $1000. Entrance into Windsor Castle: $26. Standing where The Queen stands – Priceless.
Adventure #2: Dover Castle (Sunday, February 3rd) This trip was provided by the University of Kent (my school in England) and was just about a 30 minute bus ride from campus! Dover castle (most commonly known for the “White Cliffs of Dover”) is located on the Southeastern coast of England and served as a military base during WWII. Here, you can walk into the castle and explore the hilly grounds, but the REAL adventure of this site is going underground for a tour of the war tunnels. During an hour-long tour, you get to see short films light shows representing the action that took place during WWII in these underground information centers – it’s so crazy to learn about WWII from the perspective of another country – think about it!
Needless to say, this weekend was an insane (as in insanely awesome!) way to start my travelling – especially because as soon as we got back from Dover, we power-napped to watch the Super Bowl until 4am. Remember what I said about sleep?
That concludes my start of adventuring – next stop: Scotland! In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of how I felt walking in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace: