Pilgrimage To Canterbury To Write Our Own Tales

On Friday, August 26, our professors took us on a field trip to Canterbury to simulate the adventure that the 29 travelers partook in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. In context, the Canterbury Tales were about 29 travelers who met at a tavern in London and all decide to make a pilgrimage to the Canterbury Church to witness the body of the religious martyr and Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. In The Canterbury Tales, the travelers tell stories to keep themselves occupied for their two-day trek.

When we reached the city of Canterbury, we were greeted by the great wall that the Romans had built around the city when they colonized England. There was a bridge connecting the train station to the top of the wall and we walked along the wall as we made our way to the entrance of the city of Canterbury.

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The wall the Romans built around Canterbury.

Our professors gave us ten minutes to explore the city before we had our afternoon tea at the Moat Tea Room. We were fortunate to arrive at Canterbury on this day because the weather felt like the warm, Californian sun that we’re used to. We check out a lot of street markets on the street selling fruits, vegetables, jewelry and other novelty items.DSC_0095.JPG

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Natalie showing us the vegetable stand.

We then had lunch at the Moat Tea Room which was a small and cramped, two-story building that pretty much serves classic English Tea and baked goods. I was surprised that we could fit about twenty people in that small corner to take a picture. The plates that they served us had slices of strawberry, raspberry, and chocolate cake on the top, scones( biscuits as us Americans call them) in the middle, and sandwiches consisting of cucumber and egg on the bottom. The tea had so much flavor to it and the scones were baked to perfection at the point where it was crunchy enough to melt in your mouth like butter.

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Us taking a group photo in the Moat Tea Room.

After our time at the Moat Tea Room, we headed straight to the Canterbury Cathedral. This cathedral is the Vatican of Anglican churches and the Archbishop has status comparable to the Pope. Throughout the ages, many pilgrims have traveled across the world to see the body of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury of the 1160s. Becket became a martyr because he had a dispute with King Henry II over the rights of the church. Two of Henry’s men happened to hear this conversation and wanted to show their loyalty to the king, so one day, as Becket is kneeling on the floor praying, Henry’s men showed up and cut the top of Becket’s head off and killed him. People saw Becket as a martyr and began traveling to the Cathedral to see the shrine or his body. Around 1538, Henry VIII split away the Catholic Church because he wanted to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon to marry another woman. Because he wanted to split against the church, he had to destroy the shrine and the bones of Thomas Becket.

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The massive size of the Canterbury Cathedral in comparison to humans.

Walking inside the cathedral was so surreal. There were so many shrines devoted to former archbishops and priests and this place also held a crypt for its bishops and had a section devoted to martyrs. I unfortunately couldn’t take any pictures in the crypt.

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The inside of the cathedral.

 

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The pulpit

We then embarked on a tour around the city of Canterbury. Our tour guide was a sweet, old lady named Maureen and she gave one of the coolest tours I’ve been on. She told us that the city of Canterbury’s architecture had two different styles: An older style dating back to the time of the Romans, and a modern style that was built after WWII. The old style was built with flint. The picture below is an example of the modern style that was built because German forces dropped bombs in this area in 1942. The Nazis planned to bomb the Canterbury Cathedral because of its significance but missed and hit parts of the city instead.

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A tower that still stands after the bombing of WWII. The tower is one of the things here made of flint.

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The King’s School of Canterbury, a private school with an annual tuition of 33,000 pounds or 45,000 US dollars.

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A house that Charles Dickens describes it in 1849

“… a very old house bulging out over the road … leaning forward trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below …” reads the tiny text in yellow that hangs above the leaning door. Maureen noted to us that this house started leaning because the builders placed a fireplace on the top floor and that created an imbalance for the house and the top two floors to tilt. The bottom floor remains upright, but the door was made slanted to match the leaning floors.

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A plaque honoring Christopher Marlowe, born in 1564, the same year as William Shakespeare. He was a rival playwright to Shakespeare and was said to have equaled him had Marlowe not faced an early death.

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A river that runs through the city of Canterbury

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An awesome flower bed that sits beside the river on the outskirts of the city

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Got a footlong bratwurst hot dog from a German food stand. This hot dog was worth the five pounds.

Our trip to canterbury was amazing. It was amazing because, on the train ride there, we got to tell a bunch of stories to each other like the travelers did in The Canterbury Tales. Our professors told us to either tell a story about your most embarrassing moment or your favorite vacation spot. I decided to tell an embarrassing moment because it was more entertaining and my favorite vacation spot is yet to come. (I’m going to Berlin, Germany in September and Cinque Terre, Italy in October) I don’t think I can share my story here because it’s a tad bit inappropriate, but nonetheless, our stories made our trip much more memorable.

 

 

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Life In London

Today marks the beginning of my fourth week living in London. The past four weeks have been filled with an overwhelming amount of events, classes, and homework.  My routine normally consists of class time during the day, a play in the evening, and then homework in the night. Now, that I’ve found the time where I can slow down and gather my thoughts, I figured I should finally write some blog posts for this website.

I’ve found adjusting to the life in London was easy because it’s so familiar to the American Lifestyle. I’m currently staying in a hostel for international students in the Kensington area of London and it’s pretty much in the middle of everything that a tourist would ever dream of seeing. Within walking distance, there are three museums next to each other that pretty much tower over everything that I’ve ever seen in California.

 

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This is the Natural History Museum. One of the three museums I’ve talked about. It’s got a cool dinosaur exhibit and  other cool science stuff.

 

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The first thing that you’ll see when you walk through the door of the Natural History Museum.

 

We’re a ten-minute walk away from the London Underground, which is definitely one of the best ways to travel in London. In contrast to New York’s subway system and Paris’s Metro, the Underground is a lot cleaner and fluid. (Opinions from my friends here since I’ve yet to visit New York and Paris) The Tube( as the people call trains here) is pretty much our best friend because it helped me visit places such as Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and Covent Garden.

 

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London Underground.

 

 

 

About two weeks ago, I’ve had one of the best and tiring weeks of my life because I was constantly doing something every single day. Let’s start with Wednesday, Aug. 10. Our class had the opportunity to go see the finale of BBC’s “The Choir” which is pretty much a knock-off version of “The Voice.” We went to Westminster Abbey at around noon to pick up our tickets, but we found out that they were going to start recording around 4pm. That gave us about 4 hours of free time to do whatever we wanted in Westminster. So, Breann, Julia, Mallory, Wylder, Leah, Joseph and I went inside Westminster Abbey for the first time. Westminster Abbey is one of the oldest churches in England and it’s where the new kings and queens get coronated and where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. When we walked in, we found out that it wasn’t only a church, it was also a crypt. There were many tombs and memorials dedicated to the famous people of England. Many famous graves that we found were: Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Bloody Mary(The Queen of England and not that creepy witch thing), Henry V, James VI & I, and many more English poets and monarchs.

 

 

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Westminster Abbey

 

We then watched the finale of “The Choir.” I hated it. The host was an unprofessional kid (he’s like 24 or something) who had to keep restarting the taping because he forgot one line. He also stopped one of the choir’s performances and told them to restart again. I’ve learned to see the behind the camera scenes of a television studio. The producers pretty much told the audience to do things, such as clap as if we’ve declared a winner so that they could film us doing it and then edit it in later. The final three choirs were also mediocre at best.  Lucky for some of us, we were seeing a play that made us leave the set early. The play that we saw was called ‘Children of Eden.” I also found out that my professor had contributed some lines in that play so that’s pretty cool. We saw this play in a minuscule backroom of some random pub on the outskirts of town. This play was SO much better than the choir. Children of Eden is a retelling of the classic bible stories like Adam and Eve and Noah and his ark. They had some cool twists in this production that made the play much more relatable. During the story of Adam and Eve, the production team made Cain kill his brother Abel because he was mad at his father, Adam for being controlling. The twist in Noah’s story was that one of his sons fell in love with a woman that bore the mark of Cain. So the son, Japheth, had the ultimatum of choosing his family or the love of his life. This was my awesome Wednesday in London.

The next day, Aug. 11, Katie, Jennifer, Leah, Joseph, and I visited the Tower of London. The Tower of London is not just a tower, but a huge castle. This castle held the Crown jewels, which were pretty much all the important crowns and jewels of past English monarchs. We got to see Queen Victoria’s crown which was the biggest by far. Her crown held the Koh-it-Noor diamond which weighed a massive 105 karats. Around the tower, there we many cool events going on like a medieval knight reenactment. We then went to the White Tower because that’s where all the armor held. We got to see one of the world’s biggest collection of weapons and armor. Once we reached the top, we found a mechanical dragon, which was totally random.

 

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Weird mechanical dragon we ran into.

 

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Tower of London Adventures

Later that night, all of us went to Shakespeare’s Globe. This was my first time at the Globe. The modern day Globe is just a replica of the one in Shakespeare’s time because the original burned in a fire. We watched the play “946” which was a story of the horrendous story of Operation Tiger. Operation Tiger was a time where during World War II, American troops were practicing their naval routine, but because of numerous mistakes that day, the Americans accidently ran into German submarines and the Germans attacked the Americans. 946 American soldiers died that day. The play wanted to educate us about this event because both the British and American government tried to cover it up.

 

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The stage of Shakespeare’s Globe.

 

 

Aug.12, A lot of us visited Windsor Castle, which is the oldest inhabited castle in England. Windsor was about an hour and a half train ride from London and the city itself is beautiful. It was a small town next to the countryside. The beauty of the city lies in the contrast of the verdant green countryside mixed with the antiquated brick roads. We saw the living quarters of the previous monarchs of England. Pretty much all the monarchs of England’s history has lived here.

 

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A view of the castle.

 

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Small alleyway in the streets of Windsor.

Aug. 13, Cassie, Rebecca, Alex, Mallory, Sarah and I visited Hampton Court Palace because everyone else who was taking the Shakespeare class were in Cambridge. Hampton Court Palace THE biggest place I’ve visited so far and it’ s my favorite so far. The palace itself is bigger than Windsor Castle and the Tower of London. There were also a ton more gardens that made the place humungous. The gardens were essentially parks. We first visited the hedge maze, which was one of the largest hedge mazes of the world and we managed to conquer it in five minutes. We then visited the Magic Garden and released our inner child because the Magic Garden is a huge playpen for kids. The interior was filled with so much history. It was the summer home for Henry VIII, Charles I, William III and Mary II and many others.

 

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Henry VIII’s Majestic Rose Garden. Used to be a place for Henry VIII where he used to joust before he got fat.

 

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William III’s Privy Garden

 

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Maze Adventures.

 

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Cool channel that fuels the fountains.

 

 

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The Palace Itself

I’m glad that I’ve gotten the chance to sit down, relax, and reflect on what I’ve done the past few weeks. If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for reading this. I’m hoping to post more the following weeks that I’m here.