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Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, UK

  - 1 opinions

Quaint towns outside London

Published by Aimee Haley — 7 years ago

In fall 2009, I embarked on my Erasmus Mundus journey. I was so excited to go traveling around Europe that I checked Ryanair nearly every day, hoping for a good trip opportunity during a time when I didn't have class. To my great fortune, I found a really cheap flight to London (Stansted Airport, of course). A friend of mine from Georgia wanted to go with me, so she booked a ticket as well. The ticket was only 100  Norwegian kroners (about 17 US dollars)! I couldn't believe! You can't even dream up tickets for that price in the US!

As the trip crept closer and closer, it looked like my friend wouldn't be able to join me on this adventure. She was having some visa trouble and was actually rejected.. but I decided to go alone anyway. It was my first actual trip in Europe and I was doing it alone. I was a bit uneasy, but excited nonetheless.

I was going to be in London for three nights, so I booked a hostel for two of the nights (my first hostel experience!). The second night I stayed with an American friend of mine who had been living in a small town for a couple of years with her family, which was predominantly run by the American airforce base. I hadn't seen her in nearly a decade, but it was nice to catch up.. and in England of all places!

I took the metro to the end of the line, which was about an hours ride, and then she picked me up and drove me to her home... which was another hour away

The next day we drove to Castle Rising and the Ely Cathedral. Castle Rising was a castle in ruins that dated back to 1140AD. For the most part, the building was still in tact. We could wander through the rooms and up the stairs to additional rooms. Some of the Gothic architecture was still visible as were the brick colors. Castle Rising was rather isolated yet surrounded by cute little English homes and an Inn. We stopped at the Inn for lunch and then continued on our journey to Ely Cathedral.

The cathedral was very nice!  The cathedral itself was decked out with gorgeous stained glass, detailed ceilings, and all around beautiful architecture. Construction of the cathedral dates back to the 11th century. Ely is a small town with cute little stores that we took some time to wander. Since it was autumn, I was even able to find some Halloween decorations.. something that wasn't too common in Norway at the time.

As we were driving through the countryside, we were stopped by a train. My friend pointed out that the Englishmen stop traffic for trains. Apparently a man sits in a booth and waits for the trains to come. When it gets close to the time when the trains are to come, he comes out of his booth and moves the gate to stop traffic over the tracks. After the trains has passes, he moves the gates back. Crazy! I wonder if this is only in the rural communities.. in the US in such places, you're just expected to look both ways. I guess it's safer this way!

All in all, there really isn't anything particularly stunning about these two sites of interest. I enjoy history and ruins, but with all of the history and ruins that exist in Europe, there is nothing really extrodinary about Castle Rising or the Ely Cathedral. But it was a nice visit regardless!

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