Sunday, October 4, 2009

day 5: london --> cardiff: oh, inverted island!

the uk is one of the most remarkable lands on earth despite lacking many of the things that make other places so amazing. it doesnt have mountains, deserts, beautiful beaches, or extreme climates that make exotic lands so spectacular and for the most part the food is a touch above mediocre.

the whole country is the size of the east coast of the US yet there is more history here than anywhere else in the world that isnt currently at war. today we got up early and took a taxi over to the car rental place and began our trip to salisbury to see the cathedral. picking up the car, i know it would be a horrific challenge.

where i come from we drive on the proper side of the street. gods side like all good people.

well, it was hard. it was REALLY hard. it wasnt so much the opposite side of the street; that was actually pretty easy. if you followed the person in front of you, then the path is laid out. the hard part was having to negotiate distance from the other side of the car. as a result, i was hugging the sidewalk (sorry...pavement) side of the street pretty frequently. yeah, the cars on the drivers side looked like they heading right towards me and the curb looked miles away. got that one reversed i did

ok, back the UK

we drove along the M4 which might rival route 80 in pennsylvannia in terms of boringness and eventually turned off and headed south into salisbury. as we entered, we saw that it was founded in 900 AD. that makes that the 1650 founding date of north andover, ma seem recent and trivial. as we drove in, we passed under thousand year old gates into the old section of the city towards the cathedral which might be one of the most important ones in all of europe. it is huge. mammoth. ridiculously huge. it is simply astounding to think of 13th century workers putting together this 15 story building and spire without technology. inside was some of the most intricate and prolific stained glass ive ever encountered. and to top it all of, in the chamber house there lies the best preversed of the magna carta.

now THAT is a cathedral.

on our drive over to old sarem, the name for the site of the former cathedral and palace, destroyed in the 11th century, we encountered some more amazing cultivated fields strewn with sheep and giant ass pigs. these were definitely eatin' pigs and not the snuggly kind.

the amazing thing about the UK as with the most of the europe is that its had thousands and thousands of years to perfectly cultivate its land. all of the land has been touched and changed by humans but it remains looking beautiful and pristine in ways that i cant imagine the US pulling off. earlier, i mentioned that the UK lacks mountains but has some of the most perfect rolling hills ive encountered. as we drove to old sarem, i regained my appreciation for the european touch and the amazement of the UK is despite what it lacks.

after seeing the ruins of old sarem (piles of rocks but still fascinating) we went to stonehenge. after making 098029830948239482039 spinal tap references including actually playing the song on my cell (not my mobile...i dug up my cell phone which has my music collection on it) out loud as we were walking around i asked cathy what the big deal was. she said that literally with the druids, nobody knew what they were doing though who they were was largely documented. thousands of pounds of rocks being stacked perfectly upon other thousands of pounds of rocks lacking basic technology though they most likely pulleys.

seeing these old parts of the UK reminds you how special and sacred this land is. it is where anglo saxon society took its roots and though it may hard to believe, on this grubby little island is some of the most amazing scenery and history in the world.

im in the diff now at the home of liz and james and will regale you all with tales of merriment and songs tomorrow or if im too drunk then the next day or if im too drunk...

btw, since it has been brought to my attention, i have done the following things:

- ate a scone with clotted creme with strawberries at buckingham palace
- had about 100 cups of tea at every conceivable time of day
- ate a few traditional pub meals
- have been drinking my weight in warm beer and ciders