Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Moment I Learned Other Student Halls Were Better Than Mine

A while back I decided at least once that I would show up to the train station and select a random place to spend an afternoon. However, upon learning just how much cheaper it is to book in advance - particularly as a student with a railcard - I decided to give some notice, but to select at random. So, I popped open Google Maps, typed in Manchester and then had a glance around to see where I might want to end up. And where I ended up was Durham.

Here's what I knew about Durham prior to arriving: there's a castle and a cathedral. Sold.

I arrived just before noon, and the sunny weather I was suppose to have was replaced with the overcast weather promised to the previous day in Blackpool! But, it didn't stop me from exploring. I made my way from the station to the town's centre. To get there you have to cross a bridge which gives spectacular views of both the castle and cathedral.

Views from the bridge.

I wandered a little bit throughout the streets of Durham, while on my way to the castle and cathedral. On the way is this spectacular common area, where lots of people were gathered sharing coffee, conversation, or just going from place to place. It's also where the entrance to the town market is located.

Courtyard in the centre of town leading to the castle, cathedral or market.
A random street.
Coming upon the Cathedral is slightly overwhelming - because it's huge! The picture below doesn't even capture it all... and I'm not sure that I could have! The Castle is a bit more concealed but can be seen opposite to that same photograph.

Anyway, I visited the information centre, and opted for a tour of the Castle. There's a bit of a museum in the centre, as well. Which I looked at, since my tour wasn't for another hour and a bit. In the meantime I decided to check out the innards of the Cathedral. It was gigantic! And of course... the "climb to the top" sign caught my eye, and I never pass up the opportunity. So, I climbed the 403 stairs to the top. The viewing platform is quite small, so taking in the views are limited, but beautiful nonetheless.
Durham Cathedral
Part of the Cathedral and University.

A view from atop the cathedral tower.

When I returned back to the main level of the Cathedral, the two ladies in charge of admission to the top flagged me down. I thought maybe, I'd dropped something, but it turns out they wanted to give me a sticker to signify that I'd made it to the top! They were so sweet that I didn't have the heart to tell them I didn't really want it. But they told me I could either wear it, or they'd cut one of the stickers off (they were on a sheet of stickers) so I could take it with me. So, naturally, I opted to proudly wear it!

I did it! My badge of honour!

Next, I met up for the Castle tour, which was about 45 minutes in length. We met just outside the entrance, and there was a group of about 20 people. This is when I learned that Durham University owns the castle and has since converted it into a postgrad hall of residence. Heart. Broken. I should have done my research better, because I could have lived in a castle for the year...which would be pretty epic! But all jokes aside, the tour was quite interesting, taking us into a few of the rooms that hadn't been turned into bedrooms.

Inside the Castle walls. These are all dorm rooms now!

The Castle entrance 
Unfortunately, by the time the tour ended, I didn't have a lot of time left. I still had so much to see, but chose to wander around a bit more before heading back to catch my train. I definitely need to return here at some point to explore more of Durham!

The sun came out a little when I walked back over the bridge.
A view from the look-off near the station. 
So with that, the only thing left to do is do my final bit of packing before moving out, heading away for the weekend, and then beginning my journey home!

-the Orange Canadian

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