Today was the first of three day trips outside of London that I have planned. Canterbury, which I thought about visiting last time I was in the U.K., is about an hour southeast of London by train. It also happens to be where Orlando Bloom comes from, if you’re into that sort of thing. 🙂
My train left from St. Pancras Station this morning:
(This was obviously taken from the inside, looking out.) For all my fellow Harry Potter fans out there, St. Pancras just happens to be right next door to King’s Cross Station. I did not, however, go and look for Platfrom 9 3/4. 😛 If anyone’s disappointed in me for that, never fear: the exterior of King’s Cross in the movies is actually St. Pancras. It’s prettier than King’s Cross. Also, remember in the first movie when Harry and Hagrid are walking along the skybridge at the station? Yep, that was St. Pancras, too. 🙂
I arrived at the Canterbury West train station (there’s and East, too) which is a short walk from the city center. Here’s the first look I got at the fun part of Canterbury:
That’s the west gate into the city…complete with random London phone booths. 🙂 The city center is very pedestrianized, with lots of winding little streets and old buildings. It reminds me a bit of York’s city center, although you’ll find more chain stores in Canterbury as opposed to York’s independent shops. Other than the town itself, there were really only two attractions I wanted interested in seeing. The first was the Canterbury Roman Museum. Maybe I’m getting spoiled by all the fantastic museums in London, but this was the first sight I’ve visited that didn’t feel worth the time and money I spent there. The information on how Romans might have lived is good, and there are amazing ruins of a large Roman house in the basement that are pretty impressive. Other than that…I wasn’t thrilled.
The main draw in Canterbury is, of course, this:
Cnaterbury Cathedral! This was what I most wanted to see while I was in town, and it was worth it! It’s huge; as soon as you’ve reached the end of one part and THINK you’re done with the whole thing…there always seems to be something else just beyond. It’s one of the few big churches here that allows photography, but getting pictures of the interior that actually captured it the way I was seeing it was tough. I don’t think I succeeded, but here are a couple of them anyway:
I think a different lens for my camera would have helped…I saw some nice ones on other people’s cameras! 🙂 The cloisters were a little easier to photograph with what I have:
I actually felt a little bit guilty taking pictures in the church, even though it was allowed. Also, having so many cameras clicking and flashing all the time made it feel more like a tourist attraction than a church. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve spent plenty of time wishing that some of the other big churches that don’t allow photography, DID allow it. Now I understand a little better why they don’t. It DOES kind of detract from the atmosphere a little bit. That’s why I’m glad I went back for the evensong service. The place FELT like a church, and I could tell that the vast majority of us who were there wanted to see the service for its own sake, not as part of the whole “tourist experience.” All of the resident choirs at the big churches are on vacation right now, but the visiting choir at Canterbury tonight was very good. Plus, the…minister? Priest? Officiant? Leader? I don’t know the correct term for who runs Anglican Evensong, but the woman who was in charge at Canterbury’s service tonight was excellent as well. She actually smiled, and it seemed like what she was doing really meant something to her rather than just being a part of her daily routine. I liked seeing that. 🙂
Most of you have probably been hearing, reading, and seeing stuff about the riots in London and other cities over the last few days. Don’t worry about me: it’s been very quiet in the neighborhood where I’m staying, and I had no trouble traveling to Canterbury and back today. I DID see what I’m guessing is an increased police presence on the streets while I was there, but there was no trouble, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the nice weather today. 🙂 I didn’t encounter any problems on the Tube, trains, or any of the stations along the way, either. I’m keeping tabs on the problem areas, and as of right now, none of my planned sightseeing is going to take me near those places.