Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday August 28, 2011

German WW II Bombing and bullet holes in Bath is extensive. Many streets are still covered in soot and bullet holes!

Sunday August 28, 2011 

Nine hours after taking wing (2pm - 11 pm), we time-warped to the dawning of a new day (6:35 am local time!) with a beautiful sunrise on the eastern horizon of England. Talk about jet lag!  Our first sight off the starboard wing was of a freeway with cars driving on the wrong side of the road, though we didn’t see any collisions.  Following an easy walk through customs and a short wait for our bags, we boarded the 07:42 (South West Train) at Gatwick and transferred to  Clapham Junction.  Tyler and I descended off the tube into the bowels of Clapham for a morning coffee and croissants before journeying onward to the Cathedral town of Salisbury. On our first train ride through lush green rolling hills, the towns, cities and countryside were well-populated with brick homes and factories with grey and brown concrete, stucco and slate roofs.  Tidy sheep farms and fields of wheat and barley decorated the landscape. Unlike Canada, with our generous wood supply, there wasn’t a stick framed building in site and the only wood I saw was for doors, the odd fence post and painted trim on windows.

Salisbury was a delightful introduction to England for us.  We exited the train with our hop on-hop off tickets in our back pockets and spent several hours walking cobbled streets and taking photos of the medieval structures. It wasn’t until we walked through the gate of an old castle wall and saw Salisbury Cathedral that our jaws actually dropped in awe.  The tallest spire in all of England and millions of tons of quarried sandstone gave us cause to just stop and take it all in. Our fingers traced dated lettering over 800 years old and behold;  below our feet, we walked over tombstones that were laid before Columbus even sailed the ocean blue.

Penniless and poundless, thrice we attempted to exchange our pin numbers for cash despite calling every bank and credit card company before we left Canada, but to no relief and finally, for want only of our next wonder, we boarded the train again and travelled on to the Georgian City of Bath. We conned a taxi driver into taking us broke as we were to yet one more bank where we were finally able to get 100 pounds and pay our fare to the Youth Hostel about a mile straight up a hill from down town.

Once settled into two of eight bunks, and following a nice hot shower, we walked into town and walked the narrow Victorian streets.  Dinnertime found us each enjoying a traditional plate of fish and chips washed down with the quintessential amber fluid known around the world as Guinness.  We  finished the afternoon by getting completely lost and climbing every hill in town searching for our hostel…