This past weekend I took a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover with a group of friends, and would absolutely urge anyone visiting England to do the same. After consulting with locals and sharing our weekend plans, we found that they all agreed that Dover had nothing to offer. Even our professor teaching a course on the culture of London was surprised we went and even more, that we enjoyed it.
After a short walk from the train station (side note: go as a group and get a group discount rate) to the shore, I was very pleasantly surprised by the bright blue water. Local elderly were casually swimming in the depths of the cold water, but aside from them, the beaches were quite empty and allowed for a relaxing sketch session with ice cream. We then, with the help of the very friendly locals, made our way up to the cliffs. I would suggest visiting when the forecast predicts warmer weather and low winds, as this condition was perfect for viewing the edge of France across the water. I would also suggest taking your time hiking up the cliffs, as there are many picturesque resting points. My friends and I would stop and sketch, journal, dance, and take pictures. While the visitor center offers cheap pastries and sandwiches, a pre-packed picnic would definitely be the way to go. However, you may also treat yourself to an afternoon tea outside when you arrive at the lighthouse. After enjoying the estimated 50 minute walk to the lighthouse (in reality we took much longer to explore each cliff edge and valley), we borrowed free kites from the lighthouse gift shop.
We then made our way down to the other side of the cliffs for dinner. While the employees at the lighthouse suggested some pubs in town, they claimed that the “Coast Guard” was a must for the fresh seafood. After a surprise encounter with a group of cows and a closer exploration of the tide pools on the shore, we enjoyed our seafood outside as the sun began to set. If anyone is to learn from our mistakes, I would say to make sure that you are clear on when public transportation stops running, so that you can make it back to the train before it gets too late. However, missing our bus wasn’t the end of the world, as we ended up getting to see a beautiful sunset in the wheat fields and cliffs.
The White Cliffs of Dover was hands down the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen, and I would suggest anyone visiting Europe to make the day trip. Enjoying the nice weather and landscape with friends was an amazing start to this study abroad trip, and pushed everyone to open their minds to spontaneous adventures and letting go of their fears. Some friends were even inspired to write down their fears on rocks and threw them to the depths of the water, promising themselves that they would make the most out of their trip and the opportunities presented while abroad.
So, wake up early, take a train, stay out all day, and prove the locals that beauty surrounds them everyday going unnoticed. Perhaps you’ll even find that you have been taking for granted your surroundings at home.