June 9th, 2008 by Cherié

The Old Man and Canterbury

An old man sitting in the chair at the local café, with his grey five o’clock shadow and black beanie hat, looking disheveled but oddly put together in the weird way that he was. His thick glasses resting on the bridge of his nose, it gave way to his age. He couldn’t have been more than 70, but there was something about him. He sat there content as he watched the world happen before his eyes. He simply took a sip of his coffee every now and then and let out a sigh. Looking at this man, thinking to myself, could I be like that? Just be at so peace with myself and my surroundings, to just sit there drinking a cup of Joe? I was in Canterbury, England.

London was a blur to be quite honest; the vibrant and lively city was starting to wear on me. As much as I adored and loved this town, I still needed to get away. “Some peace and quiet would be nice”, I thought to myself. I wanted to see the real down to earth England, to witness the small town life. I set out on my own pilgrimage to Canterbury, where Chaucer’s famous tales took place. Sitting on the train, watching the trees whiz by, it really allows you to embrace your journey. There is no other feeling in the world than discovering the unknown. Pondering on my new adventure, what would happen? What would I find? Buried in my thoughts, after an hour or two it dawned on me that the train would separate in half! Several cabins would be rerouted to another city, and the rest of cabins would be directed to Canterbury. “ My god, am I in the right cabin?” I panicked my pulse racing. Asking everyone around me, “Is this the cabin that takes us to Canterbury?” after a while I finally got a response. And the answer was “No”. Panicking, I grabbed my bags, and rushed through 3 cabins before the train split in the next five minutes. Frantic and hurried was I, eventually I made it to the right cabin. A sigh of relief expelled as I sat down on the seats, pondering once more. I had all the time in the world now, one little bump on the railroad track wouldn’t stop me from taking in the experience. Before I knew it the train came to a screeching halt, I had arrived.
From the moment, I hit the pavement on the cobblestone streets of Canterbury; I just knew that I would fall in love with this town. Strolling through the alleyways, its old world charm won me over. All the buildings oozed English charm, pubs on street corner with such flair. Its winding cobblestone streets led me to the real attraction of the city. Canterbury Cathedral, in all its glory sitting idly by all these years. In the pathway that lead up to this grand cathedral, I was in awe. Towering over Canterbury, and of course little ole me, suddenly I felt so small. Entering the huge arch that is the door, the ceiling seemed to go for miles so ornate in nature. Its rustic walls, worn over the years yet somehow the room lit up. The atmosphere pales in comparison to the Notre Dame in Paris, France. For such a dark history, the Cathedral lit up, rays of light shining in through the windows. Rows of pews all lined up in the room leading up to the altar, it was so beautiful and so roomy. The history behind the church is amazing. Archbishop Thomas Beckett was brutally murdered at the hands of the Kings knights. One night drunken stupor the King yelled out for his rival, Beckett to be “eliminated”. From my understanding, Beckett was regaining control of the church, and the King was displeased with the situation. Listening to the story, in awe of what had originated here so long ago. “At that exact spot, Thomas Beckett was beheaded!” the tour guide shouted, pointing to the spot where I was standing. All eyes were on me; there I was, standing in the exact spot where Beckett was murdered. I moved left.

Believe it or not, the sun was actually leering out through the soft puffy clouds. For those that think England is a bit drab, well think again. From the fresh flowers in the garden to the little creek winding through Canterbury, it is a stunning contrast to the old stony buildings. As far as the eye can see, it’s charismatic, medieval, quaint, and just simply lovely. Cathedrals, Tea and Scones, traveling, ah movement is wonderful. Robert Louis Stevenson once uttered “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move”. With these words, I hope I convinced you to get out there, and experience movement.

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