Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Final Chapter, Official Post

I can’t believe the day that we are leaving in shortly upon us. It does not seem like we have been in England and Wales for just a little over three weeks.

It is incredibly difficult for me to pinpoint my favorite part of the trip so I’m going to break it into a few categories. The award for my favorite cathedral has to be Ely. Yes, I know I’m biased in this one due to my research, but I was blown away. First of all I loved the octagon tower. In my mind it was a blessing in disguise that the Norman tower collapsed and the octagon tower replaced it. Secondly, I loved all the stained glass. The majority of the glass has been redone and the color is amazing. Finally, the outer structure shows its dominance over the town. It was built upon a hill so looking up at the cathedral as you walk up gives the illusion of a grander structure.

My favorite castle would have to be Caernarfon Castle. The castle is massive and the multiple towers fit well into my stereotypical mindset of what a castle should look like. This place also had a great view of the straight that runs through the town and the nearby channel. The castle definitely served its purpose of protecting the immigrating English from the native Welsh.

What I will remember the most is that each cathedral and castle has their own style. Some castles were built as a symbol of dominance over an area, while others are simply a fortified manor house such as the castle in Craven Arms. While all cathedrals are built as a place to worship, the style of architecture is quite different. In fact the nave of cathedral was originally used as a meeting place, which I found quite interesting. We have seen all sorts of different styles from Norman with their rounded arches, to Early English Gothic which was a slightly pointed arch, to the Gothic style with their pointed arches and their flying buttress which helped distribute weight more effectively.

The experiences I have had over the past month have broadened my horizons and perspectives. This trip has made me realize that England is a place that I love to travel to. I love the landscape, and the people that I have encountered. Finally, I have come to realize how lucky we are to live in an area where we have space to roam. Everything here is placed right next to each other. It makes it easier for us to travel but as a guy who lived on a rural Iowa farm, I miss my space and having a yard. As much as I have loved my stay in England, this trip has made me realize how much I love the comforts of home.

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