Thursday, 2 January 2014

Dover day trip,

London is an amazing city to live in, but it's always therapeutic to escape city life and retreat to the smaller tows around which are a mere few hours drive away (and a plus point for still being able to have 3G on our phones because we're within the UK). With our bus passes booked with National express, R and I scooted off to Dover, a small town in the county of Kent, in South east England. It was quite an impromptu day trip, so much of our itinerary was spontaneous and laid back - but we still managed to scrawl through the town in a good pace and spend quality time with each other ♥ 

The origins of the unique name of Dover came from the name of the main river, River dour, that flows within the county of Kent, from villages of Temple Ewell and Kearsney to Dover. Despite being a relatively small town, Dover is one of the major ferry ports in the United Kingdom and is constantly busy with port traffic, visible from the vantage points on the Southeast coast. She is also famous for her surrounding chalk cliffs, the renowned White cliffs of Dover which are a magnificent sight to behold but a never ending obstacle to ascend; as well as for the Dover castle which houses 2000 over years of history significance and secrets within its medieval walls.

Weather wise, we visited in February so the winter cold was in full force, especially so when we were climbing up the cliffs which was extremely windy and cold! The temperature was estimated to be close to -2 degree celsius so I chickened out and wore my down jacket for the trip. There was a lot of outdoor walking, so I'd advise wearing a comfortable pair of shoes and cold wear gear.

Dover castle
The minute we got off the bus and headed towards the town square, there were signs pointing us to the iconic Dover castle. From a distance, castles just seem like ostentatious ornaments in the background but only digging up their past will you slowly get acquainted with their unique historical significance and medieval secrets locked away within their fortified walls. While I did enjoy the explanatory exhibits and panels at the start, I wasn't too keen on the commercialization of the castle and the visit dulled down pretty fast.

The entrance fee of £17.00 (£15.30 with concession) was steep for a landmark I didn't know what to expect, but we also had access to the series of tunnels and underground hospital tours which were really eye-opening. I especially loved the tour of the war tunnels that run beside the cliffs (R too), where we got to experience moments of the Dunkirk evacuation (code-named Operation dynamo) during WWII. Even though I'm no history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the guided tour through the tunnels (unfortunately, you can't wander about in the tunnels alone, the system is massive and you can easily get hopelessly lost) in the castle where Operation dynamo was devised 70 years ago. Having R by my side was a plus because he could substantiate the tour with further explanations and filled in gaps of history I was uncertain about!

Glimpses into medieval living:

Climbing up to vantage points on the castle:

The castle scores many unobstructed vantage points of a bird's eye view of the town, the ferry port and a supposedly clear view of France on a fair day. It does however, require quite a bit of climbing on the stairs. Near the underground hospital, you get a good view of the Strait of Dover - the narrowest part of the English channel and France! It's also easy to spot out the Dover Jetty Lighthouse and the busy Dover port.  I love how the streaks of sunlight streamed through the clouds and reflected on glittering waters below, always in awe of God's creations ♥ 

Headed back down to the town and was greeted by a dustbin adorned with colorful castle entrance stickers - now you know where to go for free castle passes.

 We were quite tired out by all the walking (okay, just me) and the cold so it was timely for lunch. Nothing like a quintessential pot of tea, scones, yorkshire pudding and creamy mash in a cosy restaurant to chase away the british winter blues. Also tried farm pressed Kentish apple juice recommended by the waiter and I absolutely adore it!!! (thought I found the exact same one in London but R insists it's different, boo)

White cliffs of Dover
After lunch, we headed to the white cliffs of dover - I got hopeless at fending the cold while using the GPS on my phone (challenge of the day) without my gloves so when it proved too cold, R took over as usual. When we first reached the base of the cliffs, it was slightly overwhelming (and pretty meh if you ask me) but the climb was worth the effort! Walking along the historic cliffs revealed spectacular coastal views of the channel and France - definitely worthy of being raved as one of the best natural features in Kent.

The white facade of these cliffs owe to the natural composition of chalk elements and black flint, and definitely paints a pretty sight along the coast of Dover. Not surprisingly, there were many scratchings of eternal love and 'I was here' graffitied over the chalk walls along the path. Also, check out the lovely shoreline beneath the cliffs!

As it was -2 degree celsius, it was extremely cold when the draft came by and the coastal winds blew (we were red nosed and all) - wanted to turn back halfway when it started raining and the mist was getting in the way....but somehow carried on gallivanting like we were born to wander. We ventured till we could venture no more because some walking trails (e.g. to the lighthouse) were closed. We did however, retreat to the Great National Trust visitors centre when the cold bothered us.

Walked around the town area and grabbed a pint (in some bar with a ruddy bunch I might add) before catching our bus back to London. Saw a dimly-lit Polish cafe but we were gonna save that for our Poland trip. Couldn't find the roman painted house, but found a closed paint house and cute abandoned signs in the underpass instead. Also stumbled upon a pebble beach, much to my delight because I haven't heard the squishing of gravel beneath my feet for a long while. R tries to impress me with skipping of stones (as with every body of water he sees) but I'm already spacing out while subconsciously fighting the cold.

Settled for some doners at a place I vaguely remember as the Pita boys but that wasn't their actual name, I made it up. The owners were friendly to talk to and we had a amiable exchange, mostly about there being not much prospects in Dover.

We got free Fantas that night.

And we were enroute back to London, ciao!

No comments :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...