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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Roundabouts and chocolate

What do Duran Duran and the Cadbury bunny have in common?

They both have roots in Birmingham, England.

We actually thought we would have made it further south on Monday, but the roads, signs and roundabouts are confusing. Yesterday morning, it took hours to find the town of Roslin, which is only 12 miles south of Edinburgh, despite having a sheet of instructions given to us.

The hundreds of people that were at the Roslin Chapel when we arrived didn't seem to have any problem getting there. Our visit was worth it. The chapel has a fascinating history, not all of it related to the fame it received when Dan Brown wrote about it in the DaVinci Code. Even though scaffolding covers the entire church on the outside, it allows the visitor to climb around at roof level. It's definitely unique to get that perspective and get a closeup view of the spires with their rose carvings.

The inside is even better. The masons that built it included many fine details representing a mixture of pagan, Christian and local history.

From Roslin, we headed south into England stopping for a hike along Hadrian's wall. We had hoped to ride bikes, but the weather wasn't cooperating (and riding on the narrow, hilly and winding roads would have been scary--a couple of times I drove over a hill encountering a cyclist just over the summit).

We finally stumbled into Birmingham after dark and after taking a few wrong roads. I had some caffeine to keep me going, but I calculated its consumption based on an on-time arrival. Needless to say, I found myself on the side of the road in some bushes that left me with some kind of skin reaction--luckily only on my ankle.

When we finally made into Birmingham, we filled up the tank of our Mercedes Zero Class hatchback for $100 (not a typo) and had dinner along the canals. Besides being the home of Duran Duran and the Cadbury bunny, this city has earned the distinction of being the Venice of England.

Now, we're off to Cadbury World. When I write next, I may be in a chocolated-induced haze.

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