Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The United Kingdom: The White Cliffs of Dover

It was so hard to try to narrow down our trip to just one country. Aaron discovered during the planning process what I had realized planning my Europe trip with Phoebe 6 years earlier, that once you get over to Europe you realize everything is SO CLOSE and it is so hard to narrow down all the places you want to see. We knew we wanted to visit England and we knew with Carla living there, we would be back for sure, but we wavered back and forth for a long time about whether we wanted to add Ireland or Scotland or France or Germany or Italy as our second destination. It was agony for Aaron to know that France and Belgium were just a 3 hour train ride away, so when we settled on Scotland as our second destination, we also decided that we should go out to see the White Cliff of Dover and possible catch a glimpse of Calais, France as our continent fix. Also I had not seen Dover and had always wanted to go.

Phoebe and Liam were happy to tag along on our day trip! Although I will say none of us were really prepared for all the adventures and drama that would ensue on this day.

It all started at the train station when we were getting our tickets out. Aaron and I had bought train passes on the Brit Rail to save us some money on all the train travel we would be doing... BUT we left our passes in the hotel and didn't realize it till we were getting in line at the train station. Unfortunately our hotel was just too far away to go back and get the pass, so we just went ahead and bought another ticket.

The train ride out to Dover was actually uneventful and lovely! It was so nice to sit and relax for a bit after a couple days of running around London. The ride lasted a couple of hours, so we chatted and watched the scenery race by outside out windows. Then we arrived in Dover right around lunchtime!

We stopped in at a local pub on high street, which was quite interesting as it had slot machines and arcade games. I think I still have this image of all pubs being covered in dark wood and dim lighting and old british men having a pint and smoking pipes, so it is rather jarring when my vision is dashed. Pubs come in all types and this particular one was more like an Applebees than a hole in the wall pub.

After lunch we were ready to set off to see the cliffs! I had looked up a lot about how to get to the cliffs and all the information I found sent me on about walk through the lands of Dover castle. Well, I apparently didn't do enough research, because as we started our journey we realized it was going to be a much longer walk than anticipated. We didn't realize the route we took went through an estate that we had to pay to get in. We didn't wan to spend money, just to go for a walk, so we walked all the way around the estate. I swear we walked for over an hour to get to the cliffs! It was ridiculous and exhausting and we did not dress for a hike.

The estate we had planned on walking through, but ended up walking around to avoid paying.


a glimpse of the water! We are getting closer to the cliffs

When we FINALLY got to the visitor center for the cliffs of dover, we were rewarded with an ice cream truck!!

And then we made it to the cliffs!! They really were breathtakingly beautiful! It was the absolute most perfect day weather wise to be there! Not a cloud in the sky and we were able to see all the way to the hazy shores of Calais, FRANCE! 

We walked and walked along the cliffs and just as I thought about turning back, we would come around to another amazingly gorgeous view! It was so amazing and fun! We ran and skipped and danced around the hillsides like crazy people haha. 

kissing gate

feet in the grass

the remains of a ship mostly washed away on the shore

view of the city

liam liked to stray from the path

We had walked for ages and ages and as we got back to the visitor centre, we were loathed to think about the insanely long walk back to the town, but we were clueless about how else to get back. We had decided to call a cab, only to realize that the visitors centre was CLOSED! It was early evening, so we had zero idea why everything was closing. We tried to ask a nearby group to use their phones to call a cab company, but apparently service out along the cliffs is roaming since they are so close to France. I was starting to worry about how we would get back without our feet literally falling apart from exhaustion, until we saw a group of people starting to walk down a path toward the town that was different than the one we walked in on. We figured it was worth following them, just to see how far they got and low and behold we discovered a walking path that took 15 minutes from the cliffs to the town!!!!!!! Why wasn't it on the map??? NO IDEA!! But we made it and had a good laugh at our ignorance of it before and how we wasted over an hour of our day walking so far out of the way, when it was SO close.


buildings built into the mountain

curious windows in the mountain
Needless to say we completely wore ourselves down all day and were completely fried! I think I slept most of our train ride back to London. Our little stow away was sucking every ounce of energy I had remaining.

When we got back to London, we were quite hungry and as it was our last evening together before we parted ways and continued our respective journeys, we decided to go someplace fun and nice for dinner! We did a bit of exploring closer to our hotel and stumbled upon a cute little area of London which had canals and boats everywhere. It looked a bit like Amsterdam. It was a bit later than we had planned for arriving back for dinner, so people were getting out of work, so the restaurants were pretty packed. We tried getting tables a couple different places, only to be met with long wait times. We finally settled in a restaurant after hovering at a bar high top table until the group left.

Oh what a sweet gift this visit was! I felt like I got to travel back in time and relive one of the sweetest periods of my life, but this time Liam and Aaron got to join in the fun and see Phoebe and I in our natural habitat. We laughed and talked and were conspicuously insane in public and of course we danced! It was magical and surreal enough to be back in London, but I could not have imagined doing it without Phoebe by my side! It felt too hard to say goodbye this time. I was sad to miss their wedding and wished she could be with me to meet by little stowaway in just 8 months. Too much life is done apart and so when we get days like this, it is hard to let her go.

last photo before we say goodbye in our hotel lobby

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