Preparing for my trip to London to see Chris Rock at the O2 area, I knew I didn’t just want to have the show be the main highlight of my trip. So, I asked a friend at the time for suggestions for companies that organized day trips from London. She’d previously used Evan Evans for a day trip. As I’d previously visited Bath, Stonehenge and the Costworlds – the natural choice was the Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Dover Tour.
ARRIVING AT THE MEETING POINT: Getting to Victoria Station
I need to say that this was some fucking bullshit. London traffic from One Hundred Shoreditch was an experience in anxiety and “I didn’t think it would be like this at all”. I went from having well timed my departure and Uber request to “Oh shit, I really hope this bus doesn’t leave me” real quick.
Victoria Station is large – with various coach buses meeting and departing. I arrived with minutes to spare. Then, ended up running around, lost because I couldn’t find the departure gate. Exasperated, I finally called the company line and was finally able to find where I’d needed to be.
However, when I finally got there, the bus had left, mere seconds prior!
The kindness of the coach employee to actually literally run with me to the departing bus, stop it and escort me on will never be forgotten.
When I arrived on the bus, everyone clapped. It was a moment! However, I wasn’t embarrassed at all. I was simply truly thankful for the unseen forces that got me to that seat.
Walking around Leeds Castle, I relished the fact that it was Design Month. It was absolutely beautiful to see so many brilliant artistic creations, dotting the landscape. It was the perfect contrast to the structure of the castle.
(Leeds Castle) has existed on the site since 857. In the 13th century, it came into the hands of King Edward I, for whom it became a favorite residence; in the 16th century, Henry VIII used it as a dwelling for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Exploring the Castle was an ever evolving process of finding delightful nooks and crannies of delight. The castle is set up as a well curated museum. It has a distinct sense of modernizing the history of the Castle with modern touches.
The land that Leeds Castle resides on were expansive. I took delightful photos of swans alongside various artful elements of the grounds.
Canterbury Cathedral and Canterbury
After the touring bus dropped us off at the coach car park, our guide walked us through Canterbury and to the Cathedral. My moments inside Canterbury Cathedral were special. It was such an expansive and highly intricate space that it was hard not to feel overwhelmed from the history and energy.
Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt between 1070 and 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the 12th century and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170.
Canterbury itself was a delightfully modern city.
It’s obviously come a very long way from Chaucer writing the Canterbury Tales. (ha!)
My seat mate tried to actually buy a copy of the Canterbury Tales and told me that she couldn’t find one in any of the bookstores!
I had a decent lunch at German Doner Kebab before rejoining the tour group and continuing on to Dover.
The White Cliffs of Dover and Dover, Kent
Arriving at Dover, our guide pointed to some of the buildings and taught us about the history of the Window Tax.
From The National Archives:
The window tax, based on the number of windows in a house, was first introduced in 1696 by William III to cover revenue lost by the clipping of coinage. It was a banded tax according to the number of windows in the house.
It was very interesting to learn something new about the history of governments finding creative ways to demand money from citizens.
We stopped at a lookout point to see Dover Castle. But, did not go in.
Walking the pebble beach of Dover was visually delicious. I squinted my eyes to attempt to see the outline of France. But, it was unfortunately too cloudy to see across the Channel.
TOUR ENDING AND FINAL THOUGHTS
The Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Dover Tour by Evan Evans was the proper length of time for a day tour outside of London. My tour guide was well versed in the history of the landscape and the tour was well run.
Frankly, the kindness of one person to go above and beyond expectations to make sure I got on the bus will always have a place in my travel heart.
Plus, we got back in time for me to take some photos of Big Ben during sunset. Simply put, it was a beautiful quintessential day in England.
Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Dover Tour by Evan Evans
Victoria Coach Station, Buckingham Palace Road
London, United Kingdom