Hot Springs, Hikes and Her Majesty, the Late Queen
A Study Trip to Southern England with Mrs Bosch and Mr Gollwitzer
On the last Saturday in the summer holidays at 5 p.m. we started our long journey to southern England. Arriving in Calais just before 6 a.m after an 11-hour drive, those of us who were still sleeping were awakened by a strict British passport border patrol officer reminding us that after Brexit the rest of Europe had to be controlled very thoroughly indeed.
After another hour of waiting, we were finally able to board the ferry where we were cheered up by a free breakfast, a beautiful sunrise and our first impression of England: the bright white chalk cliffs of Dover.
In the U.K. our first stop was in Windsor. Because of the Queen’s death three days before, we unfortunately weren’t able to visit Windsor Castle as it is one of the residences of the Royal Family. Instead we walked around Windsor and saw lots of people waiting in the streets to see a pageant for and to hear the public proclamation of the new King Charles. Close to Windsor is one of the most famous public schools in England: Eton College, which a lot of British prime ministers and Prince William and Harry attended. However, the most striking thing was not so much the school but the large number of swans on the river. After our first stopover at Windsor, we were heading on towards Bath, where we would spend our first two nights in England. Because we all desperately needed sleep after 22 hours of traveling, it was very quiet on the coach when we arrived.
In Bath the youth hostel turned out to be a beautiful villa ! We definitely enjoyed our stay there. The next morning we walked down Bathwick Hill towards the city centre in order to do a guided tour where we would learn more about Bath. Adrian, our very friendly guide, showed us all the main attractions like Pulteney Bridge, Sally Lunn’s Buns and the Royal Crescent. We finished the tour at the Roman Baths where you can find the only hot springs in England. We even tried the healing water from the hot springs, but none of us drank the five litres that Adrian had recommended as it tasted like fresh blood and smelled kind of foul. Mrs Bosch suggested we went to the famous fudge shop right next to the Baths where some of us bought (more or less) delicious pieces of fudge. Dinner we enjoyed at the Asian restaurant chain Wagamama.
After another night in Bath we were heading to mystical Glastonbury the next morning, a small town with many legends surrounding this place. Despite wind and rain we climbed the Glastonbury Tor, a hill with a picturesque tower on top. Legend has it that this is where King Arthur was brought to the afterworld, the legendary Avalon, at the end of his life. On our way to the top we met a lot of sheep and cows, two young men who Mrs Bosch introduced to us and also a young woman who had just got accepted to Oxford University. After we had enjoyed an amazing view and taken tons of photos, we made our way back to the town centre.
When we were in Glastonbury again, it was market day and some of us had delicious Indian food or so-called Glastonbury pasties, a local speciality containing potatoes and vegetables, for lunch. We strolled around the spirituals market stalls where there were lots of different gemstones, crystals etc. before we continued with our journey.
Our next destination was the coastal town of Weymouth, where the weather was even windier and rainier. Our trousers and shoes soon became soaked as we strolled along the beach. After we had walked around the town centre, we were rewarded by a dinner of absolutely marvellous fish & chips at a place called Fish N Fritz. The portions were huge and only a few of us managed to finish them all.
The next two nights we stayed at Lulworth Cove YHA on the Jurassic Coast, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its outstanding rocks, fossils and landforms.
On Wednesday morning we went back to Weymouth for some grocery shopping with the whole group, as we wanted to cook dinner together in the evening. In the afternoon we niked along the coast from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, one of the Jurassic Coast’s most iconic landmarks. After an exhausting walk, we were able to enjoy an impressive view. We all sat on the beach relishing the sunny 25 degrees and watching the waves. Some of us even stuck their feet into the water which was rather cold. On our way back we made a short stopover at a van which sold ice cream. After we had arrived at our hostel and taken a shower, the whole group cooked dinner together, which was a lot of fun. The menu consisted of Chicken Tikka Masala and homemade pasta with tomato sauce (from a recipe by Mrs Bosch). For dessert we made a fruit salad together with a huge chocolate buttercream tart which we had bought at the supermarket.
Our first stop on Thursday was Salisbury, where we visited the cathedral with England’s highest steeple. Inside the cathedral, we felt reminded of Hogwarts, but although the church has been used as the setting of some movies, Harry Potter was not one of them. After that we walked through the town and had a quick lunch there before we went on.
In the afternoon we set out for impressive Stonehenge, probably the most famous landmark in the UK. It was very crowded there and the wardens almost would not have let us get on the shuttle bus to the stone circle because - this we learned - school groups had to be supervised by at least two teachers, and as Mr Gollwitzer had decided he would rather walk there, we didn’t fulfill this condition. However, they finally let us in, so that we could watch the impressive monoliths after all. Afterwards we visited the souvenir shop and a multimedia exhibition, where we learned about the construction of Stonehenge, which had started over 4,000 years ago.
The last night before our departure we spent in Medway. Before we went there, we had gone to a huge Tesco supermarket to stock up for our upcoming journey and to shop for dinner, which we cooked in the youth hostel. On Friday morning we started our journey back, which went smooth apart from a minor traffic jam around Brussels and we arrived in Regensburg in the early morning hours of Saturday to a rather chilly seven degrees.
Lina Kaufmann & Lilian Munter