My first semester of grad school has come to a close and I couldn’t be more relieved! A full report on the semester will come soon but for now, let’s focus on Sunday’s adventure – a trip to Winchester, England.
The former capital city of England, Winchester is only a quick 20 minutes train ride from Southampton. With exams behind us, and a week of relaxing to look forward to, some of my friends and I decided to take advantage of the sunny day and head to this enchanting town.
Our first stop was to be The Great Hall to check out King Arthurs’ Round Table but unfortunately, it was closed. And remains closed until the middle of February 2014. If you’re reading this and plan to visit Winchester in the next few weeks, I highly recommend you reconsider.
Fortunately, this little setback didn’t keep us down for long. We made our way down the main street on the search of some breakfast. Coming into the downtown area, I felt like I’d just walked into Diagon Alley! For all you non-Harry Potter nerds out there, Diagon Alley is where the witches and wizards of Hogwarts go to shop for their books, owls and other necessary school supplies.
The houses were old and slanted with moss growing out of every nook and cranny. Each house was different from the next, making it hard to decide on a favourite.
Moving forward, we came across a statue of King Alfred the Great. After a little research, I discovered he was the king from 849-899, defended his kingdom against the Viking and when he died, was the only English monarchto be accorded the epithet “the Great.” In short, a pretty important person.
Past King Alfred the Great is the River Itchen. Due to the massive amounts of rain we’ve had, the river roared and took over part of the walking path. Nevertheless, we walked on, enchanted by the sounds of the river and marveling at the houses that lined it.
As we made our way towards the Winchester Cathedral, we walked under an ancient wall and came across the cutest little bookstore. Though it being closed on Sundays, passer-byers could still leave money for any of the books outside it.
At last, we came upon the main attraction – the Winchester Cathedral. Built in 1079, it is one the largest cathedrals in England. As we walked in, we were greeted by the angelic voices from the Sunday choir as mass came to an end.
Walking through the cathedral, we came across burial sites for English Bishops as well as the final resting place of Jane Austen.
Walking up to the alter was an experience in itself. The wall behind the alter consisted of stone carvings of Jesus and other biblical icons. The details throughout the cathedral were extraordinary and quite impressive.
Leaving the Cathedral, we walked back to the main street where people had emerged from their homes to enjoy this sunny Sunday – a rare occasion in England during January! While I was a bit disappointed about The Great Hall being closed, it just means I’ll have to take another quick train ride to Winchester sometime soon.