I went to Durham on the most beautiful day to see Durham. The sky was perfectly clear, it was just warm enough to make the day good without being too hot, and although the castle was closed (and I'm still bitter!), the Cathedral wasn't very busy. I understand that they offer tours during the summer (so I may need to go back), but since they are "too far North" to get lots of tourists, the place was depressingly empty.
It's a lovely Cathedral, truly, but it has a sense of weight and heavy that the other Cathedrals I've been to (that being York and Westminster in the UK, for those keeping track) didn't seem to have. It seems to weigh really heavily, and I'm not sure how much that has to do with the colour of the stone, and how much with the construction. It's duller inside, and I get the impression that the stones haven't been scrubbed. I wonder, though, if it's not just that they used a darker stone. Hard to say.
Again, I have no pictures of the inside of the Cathedral, but then, I'm not sure they would have turned out. Even with the bright sunshine outside, it didn't seem to really come into the Cathedral very much. Again, that sense of weight, I think. It didn't have the light that Yorkminster did.
Don't get me wrong - the sense of history in this place was much stronger for me than in York. I think that it was because of the weighty-ness.
But, enough of that. I climbed the top of the tower (something I regret not doing in York), all 300-someodd steps, and the view really was spectacular. My favorite part may have been how green everything was, since I heard it snowed in Edmonton just a few days before, and I am petty about enjoying good warm weather when it's cold back in Canada. It gave some spectuacular views of the city, and the river, and I really loved Durham.
I keep comparing it to York for a lot of reasons, not the least being because of the Cathedrals. I think they were started within a couple of decades of each other, and each has a lot of important history to it regarding the Neville family, the War of the Roses, stuff like that.
One of the biggest contrasts for me, though, was the way they've treated their older sections of the city. The little streets (would they be snickleways?) in Durham wound their way up the hill to the Cathedral, with alleys dropping off into stairsways down to the river, and a real sense that this is the way the streets ran back when the Cathedral was the center of the city. York has the same sort of thing, called The Shambles, filled with cunning little shops and an open-air market. In contrast, Durham's was filled with name-brand shops, generic places I could find in any mall, and I did find that a bit disappointing. It felt, frankly, like it wasn't trying, and I wonder if that's because York is very touristed, and Durham seems not to be.
I think going back to Durham in the summer wouldn't be a mistake. I'd love to see the castle from the inside (apparently you can stay there if you book in advance - it's a student dorm during the school year, and don't you wish you lived in a Castle during Uni? I'm telling you, I wouldn't have gotten anything done, but I would have been very happy), and take the tour of the Cathedral.
I'm trying really hard to get across how much I loved Durham, but I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I haven't had much to say this week because there's been a lot of upheavals in my life lately. Kristi's going back to Canada at the end of the month, and I am so emotionally, physically, and financially drained from her stay here that I have no sense of perspective on it anymore. I feel like her spending the last 2 1/2 months here was a waste, not just of her time, but mine, all the energy I put into making her time here a reality for the past nine months. It's hard to be enthused about a trip I took over a week ago when everything since can be divided up into "before" and "after". The trip to Durham was before, and the writeup after, Kristi decided to walk out on several months of backstory. And whereas I can admit that living overseas is certainly not for everyone, it's very difficult right now to accept "I'm sorry" as compensation for six months of putting my life in limbo and three months of turning it upside down.
I think she made the right choice for her, don't get me wrong. But it leaves me wondering what the hell the point was, anyway.
She leaves for good in a couple of weeks, on a Wednesday. I'm planning a trip to Tintagel for that weekend. I'm telling myself she wouldn't have liked it anyway.