Salisbury Cathedral and Arrival in London (Nathan)

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
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26
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Trip End Oct 27, 2010


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, September 23, 2010

After our busy day in Bath, it was finally time to make our way to our final destination in England, London. But first we decided to see Salisbury Cathedral, which was supposedly very beautiful and of historical significance, but which we had pretty much ignored while on our way to other things. It wasn't far from the train station, so we headed over for an hour before departing. The outside was covered in scaffolding, like roughly 60% of the buildings we've seen all the way since New York, but this time was a little different- the cathedral has been undergoing restoration work since 1986, and isn't due to be finished until at least 2015! But aside from the scaffolding in the picture, there wasn't any visible work happening, so we got a great look at everything.

And it really is amazingly beautiful. I thought the Bath Abbey was amazing, but this was even larger and better, every corner full of breathtaking new things to discover and all kinds of history as well, I'm sure. I can't even really describe how it made me feel, except that it reminded me slightly of some of the impossible architecture I sometimes see in my dreams, rooms larger and grander and more complex than anyone ever builds in the waking world. It wasn't quite the same thing, but of all the buildings I've ever been in, it came the closest so far.

There was also a room with one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta, and sadly I couldn't take pictures in there. I really wish I could have shown you guys that room, not for the Magna Carta or the antique church silver in the cases there, but for the awesome carvings and gargoyles on the walls. There were biblical scenes depicted above alcoves all around the circular room, and between them were heads just kind of sticking out of the wall, looking this way and that with a variety of different expressions- some smiling serenely, some scowling, some even looking drunk. One in the very center had three faces. A helpful guide in the room answered our questions, explaining that the weird three-faced one was above where the head of meetings sat in the chamber, and was kind of a warning that he was watching everyone to make sure they were paying attention. The low-paid workers who carved the heads made the rest in their own images, so their different expressions represented their opinions of each other or the reputations they had. He also told us of the brutal exploitation that was used to build the magnificent cathedral, saying he wasn't sure the ends justified the means. I have no interest in the Christian faith, but I'm still awed by the architecture... but even that is built on cruelty and greed. To be fair, though, the methods used to build Avebury or Stonehenge thousands of years ago may have been just as brutal, for all we know.

I should mention that the cathedral, as well as Bath Abbey, had a gift shop. Glennica says European churches didn't have these when she was in Cypress, and it's a new feature I don't like. It feels... wrong. So do the museums we've been seeing that have a gift shop on every floor, plus a restaurant or cafe as well. One of each is enough, you greedy bastards.

After that short but moving visit we took the train to London, which took pretty much all day. The hostel had gotten bad reviews but was only 10 pounds a night, and it really wasn't that bad. It was right over a bar, so there was a lot of noise from music and people exiting into the street below all drunk and loud, but we were on the top floor where it wasn't as bad, and I had earplugs. The bar had good discounts on breakfast for hostel guests, and the showers, beds and toilets there were actually the best out of all the hostels we'd visited so far. The only problem was an incident right before we left, but that will wait for another update.

For now, we've just reached Paris and haven't decided what to do tomorrow yet. I'm sure we'll think of something. I'll keep updating with what London was like when I have the time. :)
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Comments

Linda on

AHHHHH. more stained glass. you are right. a very special and unique place.

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