We took a short detour to Dover from Calais.  Calais to Dover appears to be the shortest distance between France and England.  We had breakfast (such as it was) on the ferry, watched the White Cliffs approach, and then disembarked to take a short trip to Dover CastleRoy did a great job driving on the left side of the road (we didn’t wreck).

doverdsc_0454Dover Castle was built by King Henry II around 1180.  The area around it was reportedly a fortified settlement taken over by William the Conqueror after his victory at Hastings in 1066, and before that was used by the Romans; the remains of a Roman lighthouse still survive.  During the Napoleonic Wars, a complex of tunnels was built in the chalk cliffs, to provide barracks and storerooms for troops.

More recently, the tunnels were used as an air raid shelter, military hospital, and command center during World War II.  Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey planned and directed Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, from his headquarters in the tunnels.  During the Cold War, the tunnels were supposed to be used an an alternate seat of government in case of nuclear attack, but the plan didn’t last very long when they redoverdsc_0521alized the chalk wouldn’t be much protection from radiation.

We didn’t really have time to explore the castle, but we did take the tour of the “secret wartime tunnels”, which was interesting.  Then we looked around the grounds a bit and saw some of the old fortifications.  We didn’t see any bluebirds, though (although the song was playing in the wartime tunnel exhibition area).  Apparently, there never were any (but there really were poppies in Flanders Fields).

On to Normandy – Bayeux and Omaha Beach!

See the photo gallery.

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