Nothing says Canterbury like the Cathedral! Once I arrived in town in the afternoon of August 27th, I made my way on foot through the twisty-turny, pedestrian-clad streets of the well-preserved and bustling old town to find its iconic centrepiece.
In the heart of the city, the tower gate to the cathedral grounds loomed large; a masterpiece to behold all by itself!
As I wandered into the cathedral grounds from the gate, taking in its grandeur, it began to sing… (Note: the video below is a bit wiggly because I was walking as I filmed it, (sorry) but it’s worth it to hear the bells ring just the same…)
Unfortunately, there was a lot of restoration work being done on the magnificent structure and the interior was closed for tours. That didn’t stop me from admiring it from the outside, as well as a little bit of the interior wherever we were allowed to peek in ever so briefly.
Below are some photos I was able to get shots of inside some of the various parts of the interior.
The sign below is a layout of the cathedral as seen from the backside (or East); it has so many elements in every direction you look! Details, details, details!
I continued to wander around its “backside,” from left to right, as shown in the diagram above, making my way gradually all around its exterior.
Once I passed through the arched doorway in the wall, a labyrinth of hallways, doorways and stairways opened up before me for exploration…
There was this one arched opening which intrigued me and I was delighted to find it opened out into a lovely little sunlit garden. What a wonderful little respite for the inhabitants (and visitors) to enjoy.
Back into the labyrinth and continuing onward, the cloisters appear on my path and welcome me into their embrace.
Followed by the Chapter House…
Having circumvented the entire massive building, and enjoying every step and minute along the way, I headed back toward the gates I entered through and strode through winding my way back to the car park. Time to find the hostel I’d be spending the night in.
The YHA Canterbury wasn’t far at all; in fact just up the street from where I had parked the car in the car park and was quite easy to find. It was a delightful old historical and refurbished Victorian villa with a lot of charm! I like this place. Feels like I’m coming home!
One of the big bonuses I enjoy about staying at hostels is the fellow guests I get to meet who are from all over the world. On this occasion, I had the pleasure of meeting one such fella, John Cawley, from the town of Deal which was about 10 miles away on the coast just north of the cliffs of Dover.
After visiting for awhile and enjoying a nice chat, I discovered he was in the middle of making plans to catch a train, which connected to a bus line, which would take him to his home at the seashore. Since I was so close to the southern shoreline of the UK and hadn’t had a seashore fix for at least 4 days straight while travelling to towns inland, I asked him if he’d like me to just give him a ride in my car instead. I told him I wanted to head down to the beach anyway and perhaps he could point out some interesting places as we went. He wholeheartedly agreed, offered to pay for some gas and off we went. We had a great time together doing just that.
One place that he took me to was the quaint & upscale – yet quiet and unpretentious -village of Kingsdown. Parts of the village are built on or behind the shingle beach that runs north to Deal and beyond, while other parts are on the cliffs and hills inland.
It has a wonderful long-stretching pebbly beach which ends at the northern edge of the Cliffs of Dover.
There is a wonderful little brewery a friend of his owns right there on the beach, so we sat and enjoyed a cool glass of refreshment while we watched the families frolicking on the beach and the English Channel panoramically spread out before us.
At the end of a perfect afternoon and after dropping John off at his place in Deal, I headed back to the hostel in Canterbury and then walked to the nearby grocery store to stock up on some essentials for making breakfast in the morning.
Much to my delight when I returned to the hostel and was putting my items away in the kitchen fridge, there were a couple of young men cooking a huge pot of yummy smelling burritos for a large group of male teenagers from Germany who were all travelling on a long-distance bicycle run together. They had prepared so much extra food that after the boys had eaten all that they needed; they ended up also feeding the rest of the guests, like myself, who were staying at the hostel as well! What a treat and what a nice group of young men to share a meal with!
I settled into the comfortable folds of a couch in the living room after a very filling dinner of burritos, chatted with my new friends while I downloaded my plethora of pictures off of my iPhone from the day’s adventures and then headed upstairs to sleep – calling it a day, plopping my head down on the pillow and feeling thankful for such great new friends, beautiful shoreline vistas and the glorious grandeur of the oldest cathedral in England to behold.