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Dover Castle

To see where Roger's mom worked during the war.

overcast 21 °C

Last night we decided to head towards the white cliffs of Dover and found there is a wonderful series of paths all along our way. We could see up to the castle, the entire port and up to the north. We had to turn back so we didn't get caught on the cliffs in the dark. We didn't bring the camera so we will come back and make sure we have time to meander a little further.
We sleep well and are serenaded by the sea gulls starting about 4:30 in the morning. A bit more sleep and time to get ready for our day. Robert is having our breakfast ready at 8 and when we come down our juice is poured, our yogurt with fresh fruit with a sprinkling of granola is in our place and the tea and toast follows shortly one other table is set and a German couple arrive at 8:30, they have opted for a cooked breakfast.
We use the GPS to find the train station and pick up our tickets for tomorrow. Then find our way up to Dover Castle. We have to wait ten minutes for the ticket office opens and then we head in. The secret underground tour is what we want and we are first in line. It gets better - they send us in as a group of 8 instead of 30. This allows us lots of room to see things and to ask questions. Our first stop is an Anderson bomb shelter where we listen to period radio announcements until we are given the all clear. From there we enter a room where we view a video with the history of the area leading up to WWII. From there we walk down a corridor that has graffiti carved into the walls dating from 1870 to 1945. The next room has a video displayed on a wall as well as maps and other details projected on a table in front of us. It is all to do with WWII, the number of soldiers, the leaders and the strengths and weaknesses of each country. We follow the battles, the advances, and wins and losses for each side. It ends with the allies being cornered in Dunkerque. (Dunkirk)
The next section has life-sized projections and details the events of the Dunkerque rescue. The hopes of getting some of the men off the beach leads to a major event whereby over 350,000 men are saved. The losses would have been hire had the beach been a shingle beach like Dover. It was sand and the men dug themselves in to protect themselves from the German strafing. The saved the heavy artillery for the ships.
The next room has photos showing Dover before, during and after. I will post a photo of St. James Church, which did not survive. The Castle did.
Finally what Roger had been waiting for. WWII and the room his mom worked in when she was an ATS in the WWII. The room is much the same as it was then, but perhaps had been shortened three feet. There they plotted on a big map where the planes and ships were. Following is the room where they tracked shelling and coordinated the antiaircraft guns. The next room is huge and is filed with banks of machines that would fit in one computer today. We pass an entrance to some tunnels they built in the 1940s. They were to be used in case of an atomic bomb. The men who built these were mostly Welsh miners. The problem they later discovered is that the chalk hillside would have let the radiation in and they would have died anyway.
When we left the tour we could see our B&B below as we were right on the cliff face.
Part two was our visit to the underground hospital. This visit was mostly a walk through with a recording in each area that was like a radio play of a situation and you were following the characters from the arrival of the ambulance to the end of the surgery. Patients were moved from here as soon as possible as it was a very dark depressing place to recover.
We stopped for our picnic before exploring the church which had for a period of time been used to store coal. It has been fixed up and is in use today. The bell tower next to it was a Roman lighthouse. There were two built, but this one is the only one to survive. It is said to be protected by the ghost of a Roman soldier.
The church proper is great to explore. There are tunnels through the walls, period actors, a couple of hologram actors, the dining hall is set for a meal, the kitchen is fully stocked, and one hall has a great fire going. The smoky haze filled the room...it was warm, but .. cough...cough. We are able to wander the casements, climb the tower, follow the medieval underground tunnels and view the amazing vistas all around us.
Some thoughts. The cost is high, 16 pounds, but we were happy with it. There were hoards of kids, most were great, but there was an unusually high number of kids just running rampant, yelling, slamming things, touching things and pushing by people. There are wheelchair accessible areas, but you really need to be steady on your feet to get the most out of this trip.
We walked home and got cleaned up so we could walk out on the White Cliffs of Dover. There were a few more people out this time, but before long it was mostly just Roger and I. One of the big black clouds that had been sailing by finally decided to drop some rain on us. I sheltered under a rather prickly bush until it blew by and we continued on. We left the view of the castle behind and then the port and its noise faded until it was just us and the land and sea. One could imagine what it was like so many years ago. We sit at the lighthouse for a bit before our return home. There are sections of the cliff that have pulled away from the main land, yet you can see that people walk out on them. It makes you a bit nervous too close to the edge. We sit for a while in view of the castle hoping for the haze to clear, but it appears that that is not to be.
Dinner that night is a pub called the White Horse. It is rustic, but the chips were great and Roger had his red meat and he was very happy. The walls are covered in felt pen documenting people’s solo and relay swims across the channel from England to France or France to England.

Posted by Mari Anne 23:36 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged cliffs white castle roman dover ww ats windy. dunkirque Comments (0)

Calais and then Dover

Taking the ferry to the white cliffs of Dover.

semi-overcast 21 °C

The train is comfy, but not as up to date as the ones from Rome to Venice and Venice to Milan. The conductor told us, to lock our door at night, only the door is broken. We devised a "system" using our daypack and Roger's belt to hold the door shut and " locked". Our passports are taken away for the night and returned in the morning along with tea, coffee and "commercial" croissants (better than nothing!). We are arriving at 8:19, lots of time to go from Paris Bercy to Paris Nord for our next train. This one will be first class, but we are only going to Calais.

First class is definitely the way to go! :)

By the way Tracy, the guy in the commercials that we saw in the station in Rome that you thought was the guy in the movie "300" ... his name is Vincent Cassel (there was an interview with him in the TGV magazine on the SNCF train).

The train stops at the station just out of town, but the train is just three or four minutes late and the bus has gone. We join with another fellow, Paul, and grabbed a taxi in to the port. Paul got off in the village to eat, and we got to the port in good time and got on an earlier ferry. We showed our online booking and our passports and were given tickets; we then went through security and showed our passports again to the British Customs. Then we gave our tickets to the desk in the departure lounge and were given boarding passes. A bus picked us up, we gave the driver our passes, and she drove us across the area to the ferry where we climbed a long ramp to board.
Wow, now we are settled in the bow area, had a sandwich on nutty bread and Roger is in and out and around the boat in excitement.
The ferry is not full and has plenty of space to wander around. We get splendid views of both coastlines although it is overcast. Roger took hundreds of photos. Our B&B is just up the road. As usual we are on the third floor. I asked for the room facing the cliffs, but there is a common room that overlooks, the road and the coast. We are pegged as being Canadian as Canadians are the only ones who remove their shoes when they enter a house.
We take a wander down the beach and Roger wants Fish and Chips. It is very good, not greasy! As we sit there is a cry and thud from the street as a lady has fallen and hit her head. A nearby nurse is by her side immediately and the police show up soon after. She is shaken up, but is able to walk to the police car in a bit and they all leave. Roger also wants to charge his ipad, but didn't bring a converter so we pick one up.
The Dover village centre is noisy and I must admit at this point I am understanding the conversations no better than I was in Italy. At least in Italy I didn't expect to understand.

Posted by Mari Anne 10:02 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged train castle ferry dover calais Comments (0)

Venice, Getting Lost

Why not, You can't get too lost in Venice.. can you?

We met the others staying at the B & B; A couple from Courtney on Vancouver Island and a woman and her mother from Germany. There is a nice selection of cereal, yoghurt, pastry, canned fruit, tea, coffee, juice and eggs to choose from.
It is now 10 pm and Roger is snoring quietly beside me. We were out and about for almost 12 hours today and he is worn out.
We began our self-guided tour in San Marco square and attempted to follow a planned guide. The morning had showers and the 5 Euro umbrellas were selling quickly. We passed and so did the showers. Our first stop was St. Zachariah dedicated to the father of John the Baptist; the walls are covered in paintings by Van Dyke, Bellini and others. We found San Giovanni in Bragora where Antonio Vivaldi was baptized. From here we explored the Sant Elena district, which is home to many of the locals. It is quiet as you wander down the lanes. Voice drift from the homes and the few local shops are closed for siesta. A stop on the Canal for coffee and wine and free Internet becomes a lunch stop. I order a dish called a bit of everything so that Roger can try all the local dishes. It is mostly seafood and although it is not my thing I try everything. It was perhaps a bit too much seafood for even Roger.
A nap further along on a bench beside the water and we are exploring again. We work our way through the Castello area; the highlight being San Francesco Della Vigna, set in an area that at one time was surrounded by vineyards. Its cloisters are a quiet haven to admire the old convent and the tombs.
We work our way to Cannaregio and enjoy a birra and wine and use the WC.
Our next wander takes us through the Jewish Getto. The term Geto originated in Venice and referred to a medieval foundry where metals for cannons were cast. Until Napoleon conquered Venice in 1797 Jews were only allowed to live in the getto. The city depended on them for money lending and for doctoring, but come curfew them were in the getto. The high buildings attest to the fact they could only build up not out. This is where you come today for kosher food and accommodations, but most of the Jews live elsewhere in the city. The bas-relief panels have quite an impact. A very sobering moment is a colourful city.
We stopped for a cup of fresh fruit and to drink some of the wine we had bought earlier in the day. You can only walk past litres of wine for under two Euros so often.
Time to head past the termini to the Santa Croce and Dorosdura area. It is a very pretty area with nice views along the canal. Very warm and sunny and expensive. Backtracking we cross the Academia Bridge and find a cafe for dinner. Panini for me and spaghetti for Roger. We again watch the dance of the street hawkers and the police. One on the squares was a family neighbourhood with children running all over playing games. No grass in site, but lots of people to run around. We run into the couple we met the night before and chat a bit before zeroing in on some gelato. Yum.
We have been out for hours and hours and head home to wash up, read and have a sleep. A great sleep, as it appears I slept through a major rain/thunder/lightning storm.

Posted by Mari Anne 09:51 Archived in Italy Tagged venice church sites castle wander getto Comments (0)

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