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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 50.8529, -2.27702
Today began with another 7:15 breakfast of champions, though it was graced by a new "dessert" selection of Cocoa Krispies. After a pow-wow over the highway map, we pared down our itinerary for the day and decided to head towards Stonehenge straightaway. The pilgrims and FU fared as well as could be expected, despite the combination sleet/rain that would plague us most of the day.
A couple hours later we arrived at Salisbury, choosing to hit the cathedral first in hopes that the rain would let up before we visited Stonehenge. What a sight it was as we approached the city to see the spire towering over everything, like a beacon to wary pilgrims. We found parking, finally, on the fourth floor of the "multistory car park" aka parking garage and headed off to the usual stop: toilets. Rich took a nice picture of a toilet sign in Canterbury that will have to be posted here eventually. Anyway, in our quest for toilets, we ended up going in a complete circle and found they were located right in the car park area. Oh well. From there it was off to Salisbury Cathedral.
We eventually met up with our guide, Jane Merian,
a woman of approximately 75+ years, who clearly cared a great deal about the cathedral and her volunteer service since 1993. After two hip replacements, she won't be stopped from sharing her immense knowledge and devotion to the history of the place. We opted for the "tower tour." Little did we know this would lead us up several different spiral staircases... some of stone, others of wood, to the balcony of the highest Medieval spire in all the world. On our way to the top, we walked along wooden catwalks above stone barrel vaulting, up and down ramps, through narrow passes, etc. (This kind of think would never be allowed in the United States for liability and ADA concerns. IT WAS SO AWESOME!!) And all the while we were being led on by this amazing elderly lady. All captivated by Jane and the tour, we allowed hours to pass, right along with our other objectives for the day. In the end, our well-spent time at Salisbury led us to miss the closing of Stonehenge for the day.
After the cathedral, we stopped in a pub called The Cloister, which was relatively new, dating from the 1750s. Jeannette and Rich went for
the traditional fish and chips, Barb opted for the steak, mushroom, and ale pie, and Jake tried "herb crusted pork escallopes with sauce of chive and garlic."
After some debate, it was back to London. FU did pretty well in the heavy fog and pelting rain, though Jake's wits were about gone by the time we finally found our way back the monstrous landmark of the Vauxhall building. Barb: "They just don't put out enough roadsigns on the dodgy part of town."
Next, it was back to the hotel for a few winks followed by some photo uploading. Then it was time for dinner, which was consumed at an upscale restaurant Grumbles just around the corner from our hotel. Barb chose a vegetable pancake dish that was a hybrid between Italian and French, Rich went with the classic steak, Jeannette with fish pie, and Jake opted for skewers of king prawn, scallops, and fish atop a bed of saffron rice. It was a fitting end for a long day of cathedrals and roadsigns, or lack thereof.
Tomorrow has an ambitious agenda: return of FU to her home, St. Paul's, the Tower of London, an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey, and hopefully a trip
back to the hotel before our New Year's Eve cruise on the Thames. It's hard to believe how quickly the time is passing, and that Paris and Rome are right around the corner.
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