While London has endless attractions to offer, we thought it would be nice to take a day trip out of the city, and visit southeast England, more specifically, the county of Kent. We booked a tour through Golden Tours, and started our journey grey and early from Victoria Station.
First stop, Leeds Castle. We were welcomed with a glass of mead, which is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, and sometimes various fruit and spices. It was delicious, and reminded me of good Canadian ice wine. The site has been home to a castle since 1119, and came into the hands of King Edward I in the 13th century. In the 16th century, Henry VIII used it as a residence for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The current castle dates mostly from the 19th century, and is built on islands in a lake formed by the River Len to the east of the village of Leeds. The last private owner of the castle was Lady Baillie, who bought the castle in 1926 for £180,000! Much of the interior has been redecorated and redesigned by her, and guests can even see her private shoe collection in her dresser. However, our favourite room had the be the library. Set in a bright space, thousands of books line the walls in a colour coordinated patters. In the centre, hung a painting of Lady Baillie and her Daughters which was just beautiful. Despite the rain, we ran around the castle to take in all the sights. We saw the famous black swans and admired the structure that sits on multiple small islands.
Next stop, the White Cliffs of Dover.The cliffs form part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliff reaches up to 110 m, and owes its striking facade to its composition of chalk accentuated by streaks of black flint. While I was super excited for this part of the trip, there was a huge rain storm, which not only meant that we got SOAKED, but also limited us from really seeing this wonder. I guess it means I will have to plan a second trip to this area!
We spent the remaining of the afternoon in the historic English cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Canterbury. We first explored the Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It was breathtaking! Steeped in history, the city itself has a certain charm and character. Beautiful streets of old English homes, cute cafes and shops, and a the River Stour flowing through the heart of the city. We were washed out by yet another rainstorm, but nonetheless enjoyed every moment of this city!
Our tour ended in Greenwich, from where the group took a boat cruise to arrive in the heart of London. Most definitely an adventure we will always cherish!
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