From Bayeux we ferried across the English Channel, landing at Portsmouth, England. For the first time in a while now we were in a country where we knew the native language! I won't deny that was a really nice feeling. Being in foreign lands is great, but when there's a language barrier it can be very difficult.
We rode along the coast, staying at a handful of inns. One of our first sightseeing stops was, of course, Stonehenge.
You can actually see Stonehenge from a nearby highway. It's sitting in the middle of a field, with farmland on one side and a nature preserve on the other. The ancient site was constructed over a few periods, the entire structure built through a series of stages. No one knows exactly what Stonehenge was built for, but most people agree it was likely for spiritual reasons.
Our plan was to visit Highclere Castle from here, but alas it was not to be. The castle was currently off limits to all visitors, as they were busy filming the next season of Downton Abbey there, and would not be open to touring for weeks. I was remarkably disappointed at this. Instead of spending the days it would take to bike into London from there, we decided to catch a train.
Upon arriving nice and early in London, we made our way to the hotel. London was a crazy place to try and bike through, and in welcome, the first thing it did was begin to hail. Some people think it needs to be a bit cold or stormy to hail, but not in London! We found our way to the hotel for the night, but unfortunately there was no relief to be found. Our first night in London was spent in a place we've since dubbed "the pink room". It was a drab little room in a drab little hostel that after writing about I hope to forget! After the first night we found better accommodations elsewhere.
We spent a day sightseeing, and after that we went on one tour that took us around where the infamous Jack the Ripper murders took place. Whitechapel was a very different place back then, in fact most of the city has been rebuilt in one way or another since then. However, some of the only buildings to survive the Blitz were along the tour. Back in the time of Jack the Ripper they were some of the worst places to live, and now they're some of the most in-demand property within London.
From London we took a train up to Holyhead which connected to a ferry into Ireland. Overall we didn't spend a huge amount of time in England, but it was nice for a visit. Our train ride took us through Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch which holds the title of "single longest word domain" which I guess is just fancy for longest city name in the world. We actually met a girl on the train who was Welsh and pronounced the name for us, though there's no way I could repeat it.
After another night spent on a ferry, we landed in Dublin, but that is for another post!