Dover: centuries of history and terrific views

I know many of us international students have already started exploring the UK. I would strongly recommend you Dover as a place for a great day outside London.

We went there on a Saturday in January. It took us only 2.5 hours to get to Dover town centre from Victoria Coach Station (train journeys take even shorter time). The trip is quite cheap as well, just around 15 pounds for a return ticket.

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There are several places of interest in Dover, including the port, The Bronze Age boat at the local museum and the Roman Painted House. But you can’t see all of them in one day, so we decided to visit just two most famous sites: the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle.

A two miles’ (3 km) walk from the White Cliffs visitor centre to South Foreland Lighthouse is a great way to work up an appetite before your lunch.

But please dress wisely! Don’t let the wind bother you while you enjoy the beautiful sights of the celebrated White Cliffs of Dover and the Straight of Dover. If you are lucky to be there on a sunny day, you might even catch a glimpse of France on the other side of Pas de Calais.

However, even if you are as unlucky as us and happen to get to Dover on a very windy day after a heavy rain, you might like it even more. It was such a challenge to get to the Lighthouse through slopes and mud, that I felt absolutely happy when we reached our destination. Even if it was closed* :)

On your way back (towards the castle) don’t forget to stop and take a picture near Blériot memorial. It is a small flat monument in shape of a plane to mark the spot where Louis Blériot landed after the first cross-Channel flight in 1909.

The castle

Dover Castle is a place to spend the whole day in, as there is so much to explore. Unfortunately, it was so windy the day we went there, that the castle was closed until afternoon. And even then they didn’t open the freshly recreated 12th-century Great Tower… So check the weather before you travel!

Although we didn’t have much time, we still saw quite a lot.

The sight of ancient ruins like the Roman pharos (lighthouse) always gives me goose bumps. I felt the same kind of awe when I saw Egyptian pyramids and the Stonehenge.

It’s so fascinating that those monuments were built hundreds and hundreds years ago, and they are still there, and people from everywhere in the world travel thousands of miles to come and see them. That’s what I call a trace in history :)

The tour around the Secret wartime tunnels was quite creepy, as they did manage to capture the feeling of the underground war hospital. The atmosphere, the looks and sounds are all there to make you – with a little help of your imagination – feel the routine of struggle, pain and anxiety of the Second World War.

And then the views of the whole fortress, and the views from it, are splendid indeed. It’s a place where centuries meet and where everyone can find something to be amazed by.

Pictures by me and Natalya Fedoseeva =)

*It will be open Friday to Sunday from 11 March to 31 October 2011.

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