Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Canterbury to Dover, and beyond.

Looking back the day I spent wandering along the path to the Coast and Dover was probably one
of the best days weather wise of my trip thus far.  Yes I had very strong head winds, but the sky
was only lightly cloudy, no sign of rain, and in hindsight - I felt warm!

The path was easy - mostly down with "ups", there were pleasant things to see along the way,
and some good views looking out across the countryside.

I was surprised by Dover.  I was expecting a drab town, not sure why, but found it quite pretty.  I
had a lovely B&B and was greeted by name by everyone in the bar - I guess I was the only crazy
one walking from Canterbury on that day!  Comments like "you made it"! - does a lot for one's

After the usual ablutions I set off to explore.  I was too late to look at the Castle, butwent up the
hill anyway to look from the outside.  It is massive, and one day I would like to go back and
explore it - but it would need a whole day to do it justice. 

On the way down the hill I started chatting to a strange man (as in unknown) - I find I do this often
while I am on the road.  He invited me to walk with him along the shore - he was going for a
nightly constitutional, though I didn't really need that!  As Patrick and I walked along we chatted
about what I was attempting to do, and by the time we parted ways I think that he had heard the
Camino "calling" him - all you Camino people reading this  will know what I talking about.  I hope
he has found this blog-site - I was a bit tired and couldn't remember the address properly!  He also
gave me the tips on how to get to the ferry which was very fortunate because I would have gone
down on a different side of the road and that would have made things very difficult for myself.

Not only did I get to see the "White Cliffs" in the evening, but the sun shone on them the next
morning as I was leaving, and Patrick was right - they are very bright in the sunlight.

We had an uneventful crossing - thankfully, but for some reason my balance went a bit awry.  It
may have been the Kwells I took or having an off day, and so after walking about 2 hours out of
Calais I decided to return and just catch the train to Dunkerque.  I enjoyed the few hours in
Calais.  It is, like Dover, a much nicer town than I thought.  There was some sort of running race
in the square in, which meant that the toilet facilities in the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) were open. 
This was a bonus for 2 reasons - one because toilets are really hard to find(!) and the other being
that I got to see the interior of the Hotel de Ville!

After staying the night in Dunkerque I set off towards Iper.  I went through the town of Bergues, a
medieval town that is still in an original state as it avoided destruction during the wars.  There was
a market in full swing in the town and I had to weave my way through the stalls, while listening to
the sounds coming from the Belfroi (belfry);  I actually walked into the town to the carillon of
the "Loch Lomond"!  I stopped opposite the tower in a bar so that I could listen to the carillons
which went on for the whole time I was there. 

Bergues is very close to Belgium, where most people speak English!  That night I had the luxury
of a 3 star hotel right in the heart of Iper.  Again I was greeted with "you made it", and went to
my luxury room complete with a king size bed and a bath!  Bliss!  This day was to be the last that I
walked in my shirtsleeves.  From now on it is fleece, beanie and gloves!  (plus poncho often!)

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