Off to Winchester, the home of Jane Austen! Now I'm not a Jane Austen freak, but I quite enjoy her work. I haven't read everything, but Pride and Prejudice might just be in my top 10. Who knows. Winchester Cathedral is one of the oldest and largest in the UK. It's pretty cool. Winchester is this strange, interesting mix of the oldest parts of the country with great bits of history (like the Cathedral and Jane Austen's tomb) and the new and urban (the shopping district downtown). We enjoyed shopping and sightseeing at regular intervals throughout the day, without changing course.
The West Gate was an original part of the medieval castle, the Great Hall of which has been refurbished to house "King Arthur's Round Table." This obviously isn't the real thing, but is believed to have been painted by Henry VIII. So cool. The stained glass windows name Arthur and his knights personally. There is also a life-sized carving of Queen Victoria, who I believe came in and protected the castle remains diplomatically.
I don't think I'll ever get sick of all the gorgeous gardens just waiting to be stumbled upon. I like to walk them alone and just feel the romance they inspire, independent of any other human influence.
Evensong was to be spoken, so we didn't want to stay for it, but we did take advantage of the opportunity to get into the Cathedral for free. I saw Jane Austen's grave and plaque. Thank goodness for her and for her talent. I'm forever grateful. This is material that should be saved and elaborated on for another post, but I will say that the Pride and Prejudice-style romance between Elizabeth and Darcy is my personal favorite. I love Jane. And obviously the cathedral was beautiful.
It was a beautiful, hot day, and we were all incredibly goofy, probably due to lack of sleep. Many good inside jokes came out of this day's journey. We also learned the value of swinging by a pastry shop about 20 minutes before they close, because they discount all of their Cornish pasties and delicious desserts. As cheap student tourists, we take advantage of this mercy and enjoyed a tasty dinner. Life is good!