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Published: November 13th 2018
I admit that the last few weeks I’ve been feeling increasingly fretful about my three-month reconnaissance. I’d become resigned to returning home with no clear favorite place, and certainly no plausible ”home base” to which I’d want to return. There are some fabulous places to visit, but they were too big/small, too congested/remote, or lacked infrastructure/amenities to tempt me to stay for long.
Then I arrived in Salisbury - and everything changed! Now cautiously optimistic, I won’t say it’s the “be all, end all,“ but it’s certainly ticking a lot of boxes.... It’s a compact city with a cathedral and college, plenty of shops and eateries, myriad attractive and historical buildings strewn about, and ample green space, with the rivers Avon, Nadder, Ebble, Wylie and Bourne veining the downtown and countryside.
best tourist city IN THE WORLD by Lonely Planet in 2015, Salisbury has too long been considered just a quaint place to stop on the way to/from Stonehenge (yes, I’ve been, but not this trip).
I love it because it’s a walker’s delight: it’s almost impossible to walk half a mile without crossing a little bridge over a little river. In fact, there are river
walks that take you into, through and back out of town, all along flowing water, dams and mill races. And the cathedral spire is seldom out of view, a beacon for orientation. I doubt even my most seriously directionally-challenged friends could get lost here, and even if they did, someone would call them “my love” or “my darling” and provide accurate directions to the desired destination....
The people seem especially warm and hospitable, from the family with whom I am staying to the two young women who made room for me by the hearth and chatted with me in a pub, to the couple who offered dining and sightseeing suggestions as we waited for the Armistice Day parade to begin. It reminds me of the homey feeling I had when living in Winchester, Virginia: lovely, historic, but humming with creative energy. Salisbury is close enough to London to be a day trip, but far enough (two+ hours) to keep it from being a commuter burg.
The main movie house is the Odeon, a fabulously preserved architectural treat. Seeing “The Bohemian Rhapsody“ there was perfectly atmospheric. There are an astonishing number of cafes, pubs and restaurants, and you can’t
throw a rock without hitting a bakery, most of which feature delectable scones and hand-pies (typically savory, such as pork and apple, cheddar and bacon, or steak and Stilton....) Why we don’t have this culture/tradition in the U.S. is puzzling (and frustrating).
I will be leaving the U.K. with two ingrained habits: morning hot chocolate and afternoon tea and pastry. (No wonder the walking has done nothing for my figger....)
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