The Elusive Canterbury

by Jessica on March 7, 2009

Some things are just not meant to be. Canterbury and its famous Cathedral have been on my list of travel must sees since college. During my junior year, I found myself needing a literature class. The only choice that would fit into my packed schedule was medieval literature. I found a great attachment to Canterbury Tales in that class, and a pilgrimage of my own has been a desire since then.

In 2001, we traveled to England, and I had carved out a day for us to tour Canterbury. When we arrived, we discovered that a funeral mass was taking place inside the Cathedral, and the town was mostly quiet. We stood outside the door of the Cathedral, and listened for a while. Gary took a few pictures of the exterior of the Cathedral, but ultimately we had to leave without the complete tour. I vowed that I would return to Canterbury another time, as I left slightly brokenhearted.

Our ultimate destination on this day was the cliffs of Dover, and a ticket on a ferry across to France demanded that we arrive in a timely fashion. On our way though, we thought we could squeeze in a visit to Canterbury Cathedral. There were already two problems. We had spent longer than intended at Bodium castle, and it had taken longer than anticipated to arrive in Canterbury. Then the only parking we could find was at least a mile from the Cathedral. With only a minimal amount of time left, Gary was hurriedly unloading kids, cameras, and strollers.

“There’s not enough time,” I told him. “We can do it,” he insisted as he continued to unpack the car. Practically, I reminded him of our timeline. “You just go then,” he said not wanting me to miss Canterbury again. I thought about it briefly, but in the end decided it was not worth missing our prepaid tickets on the ferry to France.

As we drove away, I could see the spire of the Cathedral in the rearview mirror, and I watched it disappear with a heavy heart. “We’ll have to come back again,” Gary said cheerfully. Maybe the third time will be the charm for me and Canterbury.

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