29 August 2010

England Vacation Part 4

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bank holiday. The day off for most Brits. We got up at 6:30 and made breakfast - today, we were off to Durham. Home of the cathedral and the castle, both bearing the Durham name. No bull.

We drove past Raby Castle on the way to Durham, a beautiful castle only a few miles from where we are staying then drove through every round-a-bout in England on the way. Many have said that Calgary has the second most expensive parking in the world, obviously the surveyors didn't make it to Durham's downtown shopping centre, the Gate. For 6 hours, we paid 12 pounds - about $20.

The city of Durham is a beautiful spot with a river that wraps around a small piece of land that hosts the castle and the cathedral as well as the old town that is now a series of narrow streets with shopping and restaurants. We walked through the medieval courtyard through the streets of quaint shops up the hill to where the castle and cathedral stand. The bells were ringing, we arrived right at noon. At 1:30, the bell ringing apprentices came out and they didn't stop until long after we left the city at about 5:00.

The tour of the castle was informative, the castle was occupied by Bishops for several hundred years - from what I can take from it, they were the local power. The castle was built in 1070 with several additions over the years, the most recent addition was in the 1800's so no Starbucks yet. It was really cool.

The cathedral was fairly large and like the ones I saw in Italy, demonstrated a huge parity between the haves and the have nots. It was well designed with very high ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. And, for a fee, you could do anything there, light a candle for 40p, climb the stairs for 5 pounds or buy a religious artifact in the gift shop, a feature no medieval cathedral should be without.

We drove up through Newcastle/Gateshead to get to Wickham, where Derrick's brother lives. We stopped in for an afternoon tea and visited for a bit. We headed back to Casa Del Stinko to find that the foul stench had somewhat dissipated, which was good news... we may be able to enjoy the nice evening - tonight you can see the stars.


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