With America and Britain
sharing a common language and history, perhaps it's no surprise that traveling
between our two countries is so popular.
heading east to the United Kingdom are coming for one thing -- London. But
there's so much more to the country than that and a new transatlantic service,
operating out of Norfolk, Virginia, allows visitors to discover that for
weekly between May and October, the service will fly into Kent International
Airport on the southeast coast of England. Just over an hour's drive from the
outskirts of London, this airport is an attractive alternative to Heathrow and Gatwick.
Particularly because it's so quiet, which means no long waits to get through
customs. But it's also situated by some beautiful places, which are well worth
Kent is a
county -- the British equivalent of a state -- whose history goes back 2,000
years. Home to Roman invasions and the place where St. Augustine first
came ashore to establish Christianity in Britain, that history can still be seen
Richborough Roman Fort and
just 16 miles from the Kent airport, is one of the area's most popular tourist
spots and with good reason. The name is known worldwide not only as the mother
church of the Anglican community and from Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales, but
also as where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. More than that,
it's an impressive building and one that can easily rival the likes of
Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral.
Closer to the
airport, there's even more history to be found in Broadstairs, a coastal town
that was the favorite
holiday retreat of Charles Dickens. Bleak House, where he wrote David
Copperfield, still stands, overlooking the beautiful Viking Bay below. The
Dickens House Museum on the cliff top was once the home of Miss Mary Pearson
Strong, on whom Dickens based much of the character of Miss Betsey Trotwood in
David Copperfield. The author's links with the town are celebrated every June
Dickens Festival, which sees performances of his plays and parades of
costumed Dickensian characters.
It's easy to
see why Dickens fell in love with this town, with its array of quaint shops,
narrow roads and seven beautiful beaches that offer a range of activities from
surfing to donkey rides. During August, the town is filled with music from
international Folk Week, which attracts over 100,000 visitors each year. Some of
the best folk acts from the UK and Europe perform. Even better, many of the
performances are free to attend.
further down the coastline is the beautiful harbor
town of Ramsgate, the only place in Britain that can boast a Royal Harbour.
Awarded the status in 1820 by King George IV in appreciation of the hospitality
he received, the harbor
remains one of the most picturesque in the country, surrounded by hundreds of
buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th century. This
is a town packed full of stunning architecture. By evening, it comes alive with
bustling cafés and restaurants along the waterfront.
maritime past is celebrated at the Ramsgate Maritime Museum. As well as looking
at the development of the history of the area, this museum is packed with items
rescued from shipwrecks from the nearby Goodwin Sands. Many of these date back to the Great Storm of 1703 and provide a
fascinating look at warships from centuries gone by. It's also the site of the
unique Ramsgate Meridian, the site where the town's own mean time, 5 minutes and
41 seconds ahead of London,
was calculated. It makes Ramsgate the first place in the country that can
rightly claim to celebrate each New Year!
maritime entertainment with powerboat racing in July, when the top competitors
race just off the coast. That's followed by the Ramsgate Regatta Week in August,
one of the country's biggest sailing regattas. In 2007, the Royal Temple Yacht
Club which organizes the regatta will celebrate its 150th
anniversary. The club was first founded on the Temple Steps in London (which is
how it got its name), before moving down the coastline to Ramsgate 40 years
Kent is also
the place to explore some of Britain's finest coastline with 14 sandy bays, some
quiet and romantic, some lively family beaches, in a 26 mile stretch of
coastline. Home to some of Europe's most
unusual wildlife, the area was also described by artist JMW Turner as having the
"loveliest skies in Europe.” The sunsets are something to see.
Of course, the
area wouldn't be complete without its own castle. Dover, famous for its white
cliffs, is also home to an ancient castle that played a key role in defending
the country during World War Two. The secret wartime tunnels underneath
Dover Castle became the nerve center
for Operation Dynamo, launched in May 1940, to rescue British forces and French
troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in Northern
France. As the Nazis took hold of mainland Europe, 338,000 were saved; almost
ten times the original estimate of 45,000 troops that it was believed would be
rescued. It's a fascinating place to visit. You can't help but wonder how so
many people coped with living in the dingy tunnels while commanding such a
The medieval town of Sandwich, with its city walls and period houses, is
probably known more widely for the food of the same name.
Rumor has it that the
sandwich was invented here. Nearby are three stunning golf courses, St.
George's, Prince's and the Royal Cinque Ports, all of which have hosted the
British Open Championship in their time.
And if that
isn't enough for you, getting over to France for the day is easy enough, with
ferries running from Dover. Or perhaps you'd rather take a car over on Eurotunnel or let the train
take the strain, with both options allowing you to enjoy the Channel Tunnel
between Britain and France.
With so much
history, such beautiful coastlines and fine dining and sporting opportunities,
it's perhaps no surprise that Kent welcomes something like four million visitors
each year. Now, with new flights starting straight from Virginia, the potential
is there to welcome many more.
To find out
more about Kent and the flights into Kent International Airport, visit:
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in Kent and regularly
explore the area they live in. They also love to travel and their next trip
will see them taking the inaugural Disney Cruise Line around the
This article appeared in our January 4, 2007 newsletter --
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