Taking over England (or wherever): The Canterbury and Cambridge-American Cemetery Edition

So the weekend is coming to an end in beautiful and sunny England, but we certainly kicked things up a few notches and really got some stuff done.  Saturday Michelle and I made our first foray onto the UK trains and made our way all the way down to Canterbury.  Not wanting to rest on our laurels, today we biked out to the American Cemetery, which is a few miles down the road from our place heading out of Cambridge.  I'm sure you are anxiously anticipating the photographic evidence and I will provide plenty after the jump.

When in October the bright sun shines

And the cold Cambridge winds rustle the vines,

A heartbeat like the beat of a drum

Beckons young legs to set forth and come;

Of Churchill they to Canterbury went

Heedless of the pounds to be spent.

There it is then...my crappy adaptation of the prologue to the Canterbury Tales.  Figured I would go with that since Chaucer's book is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Canterbury.  Not that I know anything about the book.  In fact, I was thinking about it the other day and had almost decided it was about a group of people traveling to Canterbury to pay their taxes...then I remembered I was probably thinking of Mary and Joseph from the Bible.  Now, a group of people traveling on a pilgrimage to the great cathedral in Canterbury probably makes more sense.  Guess that's why Chaucer was the author and not me.  Anyway, as I've already said several times, Canterbury is to where we made our first major British pilgrimage on Saturday. 

We first ventured onto the much talked bout British trains to get from Cambridge to Canterbury.  All and all, this went pretty well.  They pretty much operate like subway systems in big cities except that you buy your tickets based on starting and ending points and make your way to the destination by any route possible.  Needless to say, figuring out which trains to take and where to transfer is a bit difficult.  In fact, we were unable to determine any possible way to figure out the routes on our own without asking the train station workers at each location.  Our first train went from Cambridge to King's Cross station in North London.  A boy (9 years old or so), his dad, and grandfather were sitting in the seats across the aisle from us.  They were apparently heading to the Chelsea match in London.  Of course, we both love British accents on kids...so that was entertaining.  But I was particularly pleased to note that the three of them had a weekly game picking contest for the English Premier League games.  Oliver (the boy) kept the predictions in his notebook.  Reminded me of how my brother, dad, and I used to pick NFL games every week with markers on the white board.  I was the score keeper and game writer-downer.  It was awesome!  Not sure why we don't do it anymore, come to think of it (apart from the geographical separation that is).

Anyway, skipping forward a bit...we made it to Canterbury around noon.  My impression of the town is that it's very much like a mini-Cambridge with a huge cathedral in the middle rather than a university.  We had a nice time though and the pictures below will give you an idea of the main highlights.  Probably the most interesting part was our lunch.  We ate a little Italian restaurant and the food was pretty decent.  However, I would have to say it had the least intrusive wait staff imaginable.  We finished eating and were waiting for someone (anyone) to give us our check for what seemed like hours.  I was really beginning to wonder if we were ever going to escape.  At the moment, I could certainly empathize with the characters in Dante's purgatory...it wasn't a terrible place to be...but not the greatest either.  The best part was when I finally made eye contact with one of the waitresses on her quarter hourly meanderings around our section, she asked if we were finished...alas.

Anyhow, we did finally escape from purgatory and meandered around Canterbury a bit more before hopping a couple of trains back to the C.

Today (Sunday) we biked out to what turned out to be an American cemetery for soldiers killed in WWII.  Pretty surprising to find it here, but it is very beautiful...definitely a hidden gem.  Here are some pics...

Such a boss

Yes, I sometimes have trouble locating the camera

The West Gate of Canterbury...and Michelle

The Cathedral...and me

Inside the cathedral

Obviously inside the cathedral

The tomb of the Black Prince

And the Cambridge American Cemetery...

Old Glory painting the breeze

Representing Florida