Instead of heading to Alnwick Castle, the tour was shifted to Durham, a beautiful city just outside Newcastle. I recall seeing it from the train on my journey to St Andrews and commenting on how lovely it looked, so I was thrilled to get the chance to explore it.
Anyone that knows me well can understand how excited I became at sighting this pub. I attempted to go in, however, it is a very local establishment filled with swarthy old men, so I decided to leave. However, it was a very intriguing little pub with amazing history. The building itself was constructed in 1109 A.D.
Next we visited the Durham Cathedral, which was one of the most gorgeous buildings I had ever seen. I have never really visited a proper cathedral before, so I essentially wandered about with my mouth agape. Above is a finely crafted door knocker on the entrance to the cathedral.
Here is a nice vista of Durham seen from the cathedral tower. I climbed 325 steps up a narrow, winding enclosure to get to the top. It was fascinating to think of how many feet traversed those steps, and it put into perspective just how antiquated these places in the United Kingdom are. The view from the tower was breathtaking, and well worth the effort. The view itself was enough of a Christmas gift for me.
Perhaps my favorite part of the cathedral, though, was the cloisters. Everything was so peaceful in this courtyard, it was such a nice experience to see this place of sanctuary. Also, I was told that a few scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed in these cloisters. As a film enthusiast, I always appreciate visiting locations used for filming.
The day concluded with chicken pâté, prosciutto-wrapped cod, and a tipple of white wine at The Cellar Door, a lovely and quaint restaurant on the way to the cathedral. The atmosphere was wonderful: soft lighting, fresh flowers on the table, good food, and a home-like feel. If anyone ever travels to Durham, this is the restaurant I highly recommend.
Originally written 19 December 2012