Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tintagel, Cornwall. Home of King Arthur

In my previous visits to England, I never made it to Tintagel Castle, so I was determined this time. I think this was actually the first castle I've ever seen in England, odd for a country known for having produced so many of them.
It's rumored to be the birthplace of King Arthur (of Round Table fame), which means that it draws a lot of people who sell and buy crystals, magic balls, wizard figurines and healing stones.
I did however find a "Only Fools and Horses" mug though. Who knew they even made such things?
It's a cute little town but definitely not much to do besides check out the castle. There are only 5 hotels in town. I stayed at The Wootens which was nice enough (although it looked like it was straight out of the 70's or something) but if I did it again I would definitely stay at The Cornishman which made my hotel look like a haven for marauding seniors.
The main avenue is Fore Street and that's where all the shops and restaurants are, as well as the path to the castle. It's a very long steep paved path but you can pay for a guy in a Jeep to drive you both ways (seriously, who was this guy? I don't think he worked for the village since he was wearing shorts and sneakers and his car was just a beat up old truck---free enterprise, you gotta love it).
There is a little snack bar for anyone who wants to stop and have a tea or coffee.
When you finally see the castle, it's a little underwhelming since it really is only ruins but it is very majestic because it's so isolated and wind-swept. You can see how it became incorporated in the Arthur saga.
What I didn't realize before I came, was that the freaking castle is way out on a headland and you have to climb this little staircase across the ocean in order to get near the castle (and then climb some more around the outside all the while risking possible sudden death by fall). There are no ropes or safety devices I could see. I'm not a baby but c'mon..this place would never fly in the States.
Of course I punked out. I didn't want the next day's headlines to read, "Dumb American Tourist Falls Off Rock and Drowns".
I amused myself by seeing the parts of the castle/fort that didn't require an Evil Knieval stunt and called it a day.
Most of the rest of the day I spent just walking around, browsing in shops and stopping for the occaisonal cider. That night I went to The Cornishman for dinner and met a few locals, as well as the extremely elderly village drunk, who took a shine to me and promptly began sexually harassing me while he waited for his to-go order.
Thankfully, after it came, he mumbled something about getting on home and stumbled off into the sunset.
Why is it always me?

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