The walled city of Chester
Chester Travel Blog› entry 4 of 21 › view all entries
I hadn't even heard of this place. This was one more of TripAdvisor Forums' recommendations. They all suggested that if I were going to Manchester, it's only fair I visit this place. Thankfully my Frommers guide gave me more information on this place and what I can expect. I liked what I read. That itself is a first for me as I rarely fall for cities based on bookish blurbs.
I was only too happy to go here as I wanted to start flexing my Britrail pass. I had eight free journeys AFTER ALL. That morning was a cold wet one again in Manchester. Not that I minded, but it does become a problem if you have a camera et al in your bag and you need to start putting those waterproof cases for your camera, and can be a problem when you want to just have it in your jacket pocket for those impromptu photo moments.
Anyway caught the train to Chester. Actually two! I got on board the wrong one. But the nice thing about a Britrail pass is that you can get on any train and go wrong and still not pay an extra penny. There were 4 Aussie blokes sitting across me on one of the journeys, it was hilarious watching them imitate the announcements done on the train.
By the time I reached Chester, dear dear...it was 1pm! Much later than what I had hoped. But the good thing is because the sun sets by 9pm+, I didn't mind reaching that late. I stepped out of Chester, saw the Town Crier building and thought of LeeB -she'd told me about the existence of a Town Crier. Shame I was going to miss him that day.
The walk towards the city centre was quite quick thanks to the rather lovely signboards and directions. The tourist centre itself well stocked with lots of things to do there. I could tell that this is a city I'd grow to like. For one thing, it's NOT small!!! Frommers gave me this impression it's one of those "quaint" English towns but it's fairly big. I wasted no time, I wasn't feeling too hungry anyways so quickly made my way to the River Dee. Nothing really that special about the river. Looked a bit dirty even.
From here on began my walk around the walls of Chester. One must remember that unlike York and other walled cities, Chester is the only town whose wall is intact and you can walk the whole thing. Also, this time I was thinking of doing my sightseeing on a budget and I knew there weren't much indoor attractions in Chester anyway, so I was going to do this at a slow pace and yep, smell the roses.
The walk was nothing short of FANTASTIC. I was amazed at how it's all so well packed in. I began at the section by the River Dee. So you had a river with green (and those yellow flowers in abundance), then passed by the lovely race course, lovely old buildings and you just the feeling that the whole city is "clean". I know it's a stupid word to describe a city, but hey!
I passed by the cathedral, a gorgeous structure. What is it about Cathedrals' tall towers that get me all weak kneed? Am I really such a sucker for architecture?? And a big advantage of coming in Spring - the flowers are in full bloom. Look at the garden at the back of the cathedral for proof!
I passed by the Eastgate clock. It's not how I imagined it. I thought it's this clock tower kind of thing in the city centre.
Lunch was awful fish and chips at some local store, and of course a dessert of Thortons' ice cream. Last two trips my focus was on Thornton's choc's, this time I thought I'd change the trend and go with ice cream instead! There was an old building converted into a hitech shopping centre so I spent some time there. I can't but be amazed at the number of Europeans I see in the UK.
Anyways, back to Chester - I finished my wall circuit and walked over the lovely Roman gardens and the ancient amphitheatre. You know how I always keep talking about those unheard of elements of a place being the surprise packages - well here's Chester's contribution to my theory - Grosvenor Park. It's lovely. And I mean lovely-lovely. Way too cool. So green, lovely flowers, lots of kids playing footie and just a feelgood place for an afternoon stroll. I took so many pics. Infact whilst uploading to this site as well, it was tough deciding which ones would make the mark.
From here I headed back to the shopping strip to give my credit card some exercise. I was done by about 6pm. I headed back to the railway station. The walk back was a bit confusing what with a lot of highways coming in between and not being too clear in which direction to head.
Thankfully I didn't have to wait for much long at the railway station. Caught the train back to Manchester, checked email and had dinner again at Wagamama before retiring to the hostel around 9pm.
On a side note, I continued reading Dan Brown's "Digital Fortress". Man, he's a fluke! This book is dull as dishwater. Glad at least he can pay for more than just his bread thanks to "Da Vinci Code".