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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236
Today began with breakfast at 7:15. Same deal, in the hotel basement. It's a bit overpriced, but considering the convenience of being able to eat and then run back to the rooms for a bit before departure it's worth the extra cost in terms of saving time.
After breakfast, we and FU headed toward Dover. Ah, if only it was that simple. Getting out of Central London and onto a main motorway is a task in itself. After much meandering, with Jake at the wheel, Barb at the map, and Rich in charge of reading signs, we finally managed our way to the snowy white cliffs. Once there, we headed straight for Dover Castle, which was closed to the public due to the hazardous conditions. (A few inches of snow!) Fortunately, the Napoleonic and WWII secret tunnels were available to the public, so we spent a fascinating couple hours within the white cliffs themselves.
From Dover it was off to Canterbury, Jake's home away from home while in college in the spring of 1996. There, we dealt with heavy traffic congestion and had trouble finding a parking place. When in doubt, go with what you know, right? So we ended
up parking around the corner from Frank and Karen's home, where Jake lived nine years ago. From there it was a brisk walk along very icy streets/pavements to the City Centre, or High Street. Barb commented that it reminded her of Disneyland, but was real. Both sides of the street are lined with shops, there are tons of people about, and street performers all over the place. A narrow path led off to the right, at the end of which was the "Green Jesus" or gate to the Canterbury Cathedral Close. We stopped at the Butter Market for a quick snack. For Rich and Jake it was carrot and coriander soup and Jeannette and Barb split a pudding dessert. Next came the cathedral grounds, which provided some amazing views of an ancient monolith that seemed to transcend time. Unfortunately, the cathedral had closed to visitors, so we were left to wander around outside.
Leaving the cathedral grounds, we popped into the Cherry Tree, a pub dating from circa 1374 and then went on to dinner at The Weaver's, a cottage-like establishment along the west bank of the River Stour.
Off it was then to Frank and Karen's, where we met up
with them and their current boarder, a very nice girl named Marina from the Ukraine. We were offered tea and Christmas cake among other goodies and sat around reminiscing for a couple hours. The two of them looked very well; Karen was proud of losing 38 pounds (wow!) and Frank seemed not too bothered by work, which had plagued him a bit a decade ago. It was a good feeling for Jake to once again see his family away from home. Plans were set for a return visit in August, 2006.
The return drive to London was uneventful until we approached the mess of streets near the center of the city. Thank goodness Vauxhall (an auto manufacturer) decided to build an architectural "masterpiece" (or horridity, your choice) that served as a beacon for the returning pilgrims.
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