I’ve been to 5 places in England: Dover, London, Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Bath, and this blog is the second of these five (Stonehenge was first- I actually meant to post this one before Stonehenge. Oops). I’d like to write my entire England blog in one go; however, all Bath photos were lost to the void (for now), so that’s not possible. It wouldn’t make much sense to write about the other four in one blog and later add Bath, so that no one who previously read the blog would see it. During the Great Computer Crash of 2011, I lost around 95% of my pictures of England (as well as other European countries), so I have only a handful of pictures from Dover, London, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. For some inexplicable reason, I have zero pictures from Bath, which is making me think it was a
matrix stimulation and we never really went there (just kidding…. kinda). As my luck would have it, at age 21, I had the mental capacity of a carrot and didn’t back up any of my pictures onto a flash-drive or even a freaking floppy disk. The pictures DO exist; they just exist on some flash-drive in my mother’s office, under a mountain of clutter. If, and when, she finds that flash-drive, I will do a blog about Bath. As for the other four, I scrounged up enough pictures via multiple Facebooks to write adequate, if not great, blogs (which bums me out in a major way). But life isn’t fair, and therefore I must work with what I have.
*I had pictures of the inside of Dover castle and the underground bunkers, as well as more pictures of the outside of the castle and the town of Dover. I apologize for not having these pictures to enhance the blog, and hopefully if my mother finds her photos, I can add them later. *
We went to Dover because that is where our cruise ship was docked; nonetheless, I think it’s well worth a visit even if you don’t have to catch a giant ship. When people think of England, they usually exclusively think of London (and maybe Stonehenge), and that’s about it. Dover is less than a 2-hour drive from London (about 1 hour, 45 minutes) with a lot of history, including a castle with underground bunkers used during various conflicts, including the “Big War” aka WWII. This city pushes up right against the famed English Channel, and the French coast is only 26 miles away. They say on clear days you can even see the outline of France (I didn’t).
When we arrived in Dover at the start of the cruise, we had zero time to explore the town, castle, or pretty much do anything that didn’t involve racing to the ship. Plus, we had just flown 10 1/2 hours, so we weren’t exactly in a touristy kind of mood. In contrast, when the ship docked at the end of the first part of the cruise (we took a 2-part cruise: everyone who wasn’t staying for the 2nd part had to disembark, and those coming on for the 2nd part had to board), we jumped at the time we had to do some explorin’.
We took a bus from the ship port to downtown Dover, and from there it was pretty easy finding our way to Dover Castle. It sits on top of a giant hill and cannot be missed. It’s an 11th century castle which was once dubbed “the Key to England” due to its strategic location right next to the English Channel (fun fact: it’s also the largest castle in England, so take that, Tower of London). It’s seen battles from various wars throughout history: First Barons’ War (1216), English Civil War (1642), Napoleonic Wars (1803), the War of 1812, and finally, WWII. It was a HUGE stronghold for England during this time because of its secret tunnels. Back in the 1200’s, the castle was under attack by the French, so they had to dig tunnels outwards from the inside of the castle to where the French were located, thus creating these tunnels (although they were restored after WWII).
To tour the castle, it costs 20 pounds (roughly $23.86 USD), and is open from 10 am to 6 pm. They also offer child, family, student, and “overseas visitors pass” priced tickets. This castle is a magnet for school children groups, and there were a few when we went. I’m sure there are guided tours of the castle, but we didn’t use them. Instead, we just walked freely and were able to roam the various areas with ease. Again, I wish I had more pictures from inside the castle, but that is life. Even though you can freely explore the castle, you must book a tour for the underground tunnels. It’s a very easy walk and you don’t feel like you’re underground. We went with a group of about 30 people, and we got to view the kitchen, hospital, command center, bunkers, and other areas.
After we explored the castle for an hour or so, we headed back towards the town. It’s a very close walk from the castle, but I was tired, so I went back to the ship. My family meandered around for a bit more, and of course headed to the Dover police station so Greg could perform his ritual of exchanging stories and patches with foreign police officers (I don’t blame him honestly; if I were a cop or former cop, I think it’d be cool to talk to other cops from different countries).
In the end, I’m thoroughly convinced that Dover is a charming and great medium-sized English town. There’s plenty to do there, and if you’re ever in England, it’d be a shame to miss a chance to view the White Cliffs of Dover for yourself. I know if I ever take a trip back to London, a day trip to Dover will be at the top of the list!