London and Beyond: 1997
|On one of our excursions from
London, we traveled to Canterbury and to Dover. At the Cathedral we
found a modern-day set of miniature Pilgrims on their way to practice for
whatever pageant was planned for the week. A Recommendation for visiting
the Cathedral: Rent the Audiophone Guide; this is one place that the
information given adds substantially to the enjoyment of the visit.
||On several of our early trips
to Europe, we took the ferry from Dover to Calais; and on each of those
trips, we always looked up to the highest point on the clifftop and wondered
about the fascinating castle that was perched there. On this trip we
finally had the opportunity to visit Dover Castle. The fortifications
alone are enough to interest any history buff, but for those who are intrigued
by the study of World War II, there's a very special treat. At the
castle, the visitor can now visit the series of tunnels carved into the cliffside
that were used as an Allied communication center and hospital during World
War II. This walking tour takes the group up and down through the tunnels
and lasts almost an hour. It has only been in the last few years that
the location and use of this facility has been declassified, and even today,
not all the tunnels are open.
|They said it couldn't be done,
but the Eurostar makes many things possible. Leaving London immediately
after breakfast and returning about midnight, we were able to do an amazing
whirlwind tour of Paris that included visits to the Louvre, Notre Dame,
and Versailles and still left enough time for the students to take the elevator
to the top of the Eiffel Tower!
||At the ticket office for
the Eurostar in Waterloo Station, the traveler can buy metro passes and museum
passes for Paris that really speed up things once you arrive. We were
off the Eurostar and into Notre Dame within 30 minutes of our arrival.
Although the students regretted having to rush and complained several times
that we were walking too fast for them, all of them later listed their trip
to Paris as the highlight of the tour. And all of them expressed disappointment
at the Chunnel Experience; I think everyone expects to see a big opening in
the ground and to see something during the crossing. The nothingness
of it all is hard to explain ahead of time. One of the students slept
through the crossing both directions; we tried to explain to her that she
probably saw more than any of us did, but she never believed us.
|Versailles was surprisingly
uncrowded when we arrived; perhaps afternoon is the best time to visit.
We were able to take our time in the rooms without being pushed along by
the crowds. On the way out to Versailles, we suffered one near-disaster:
After purchasing the tickets for the RER and finding our way to the right
track, I discovered that my wallet was missing! When I retraced my
steps to the ticket counter, I couldn't find anything. At the moment
of my greatest despair, one of the workmen came out of a room and signaled
to me. Although he didn't speak English and I forgot any French I ever
knew, he managed to communicate to me that another worker had found it and
that they had been trying to find me!! Never again will I allow anyone
to speak unkindly of the Parisians!!
City Visits - Excursions I
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