Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eh, Salisbury Schmalisbury

It was probably my fault:  I got too excited, had high expectations and was thoroughly disappointed.  I'm talking about my weekend in Salisbury.

John and I decided to take a break from the rat race and go away for a weekend, just to be anywhere but London.  I suggested Salisbury because, as I recalled from my junior high school trip, it seemed like the perfect place - picturesque, right smack dab in the middle of the countryside, an easy hour and a half journey from London, etc.  To be truthful, thinking about it, I didn't remember much about Salisbury from that trip except that it had a lovely cathedral and I thought, if all else failed, we should at least go and see it.

So we booked a cheap (very cheap) hotel above what turned out to be a pub/bar (which conveniently has a late night on Saturdays so you can hear the bass of Girls Aloud throbbing through your floorboards at 2 a.m.), which was actually okay since we weren't interested in a luxury stay this time around (well, it would have been okay if the room wasn't stuffy and vaguely reminiscent of a remodeled crack den and the fluffy white towels didn't have suspicious stains on them that forced me to squeeze my eyes shut when drying off and the window didn't look out onto a car park where the recycling bins were also located so that my afternoon nap was interrupted three times by someone tipping sackfuls of glass into the bin - but hey, you get what you pay for).  But overall, the city itself lacked any sort of charm or character that others, such as Rye or my beloved York, have.  Instead, the pleasant locals I held in my memory were replaced by chain-smoking chavvy teenage girls wearing the requisite "jeggings" (jeans + leggings for those of you who are fashionably challenged) and imitation Uggs and older versions of them sitting on park benches hacking up a lung.

I will say that Salisbury's one redeeming feature is its beautiful cathedral, which was consecrated in 1258.  I've been in the Notre Dame, the York Minster, Westminster Abbey, among other impressive churches and cathedrals, but Salisbury Cathedral is most definitely my favorite.  Despite its size and stature, there's something incredibly non-intimidating and non-ostentatious about it - not to mention this gorgeous font pictured at right) with Isaiah 43:2 engraved into its edge ("When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you").  Our visit coincided with the Salisbury Music Society's dress rehearsal of Bach's Mass in B minor, which was a real treat to sit in on.  Very rarely do you hear performances of that scale in a setting like Salisbury Cathedral and I felt extremely lucky as I sat listening to the beautiful music filling every crevice of the cathedral.

Upon Chris's suggestion, we dined at The White Hart that evening (I did inquire at the tourist information center for personal restaurant recommendations, but lost my temper when the woman working there who shook her head at me:  "Oh no, no we're not allowed to give personal recommendations, otherwise we would be seen to favour one restaurant over the other."  Ok, ok, why don't you give me a non-personal personal recommendation then?  Jeez.  I was in a bit of a bad mood after that), which was dead as a doorknob since we were one of the two couples dining in the vast, white-tableclothed dining room (backed by easy-listening piped-in music, just in case you're into that ... I always like having a bit of rib-eye steak with James Blunt crooning my ear - NOT).  Still, the food was delicious (I had tender lamb shanks with rosemary au jus and John chose a sirloin steak with bearnaise sauce and fries) and it was unabashedly refreshing to pay non-London prices for a lovely meal out. 

Back we went then, to our revamped crack-den hotel atop a strip night-club, which by now had two burly bouncers at the door.  "At least it's secure," John quipped as my unhappiness threatened to cause a Poltergeist-inspired rampage across our room.

Upon arriving back at our flat this afternoon, John and I both let out a sigh of relief.  "It's not often that you come back from a hotel preferring to sleep at your own place," he said approvingly, surveying the living room.  I looked at the sun streaming into our bay windows and agreed.  Think we'll leave Salisbury alone for now.

No comments

Post a Comment

© angloyankophile

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig