The thing that a traveler realises very quickly, is that every county, every town and village in England seems to have a wealth of gems awaiting to be discovered – just get in your car and go! This time I looked up the map and picked Norfolk.
Here are the impressions of a first time visitor:
1. Dine in Norwich. Try out the many Norwich restaurants and coffee shops as well as street food. I found a newly opened oriental food restaurant Ciscoe’s which proved to have really well-made, fragrant Asian dishes.
Norwich has plenty of coffee shops luring with their cake displays – if you have a sweet tooth, try Aslan’s Den, they serve cake in really generous portions!
My companion and I were lucky to hit the British Street Food feast in Norwich – we were simply spoiled for choice when it came to lunch and snacks, plus enjoyed great atmosphere!
2. Go shopping – we were told that Norwich now is the 3rd shopping destination in England. Well, I’m not sure if this is true, but Norwich certainly has some great shopping locations. First on the list is Royal Arcade, offering a very elegant shopping experience, including a couple art galleries, and some coffee shops for exhausted shopaholics.
Streets in the old town are lined with quaint boutiques and vintage shops with their attractive window displays.
The owner of this macaroon shop in the Royal Arcade is apparently a contestant from Masterchef (2010, I think).
If you love the hustle and bustle of a market, visit Norwich outdoor market, which apparently has existed on the same site since the 11th century. There are some really nice artisan stalls headed by chatty traders selling spices, fresh bread, fish, coffee and other local produce.
3. Listen to some music – free Thursday music with Norwich Evenings have some great bands playing all around town – a perfect start to a summer’s evening! And after dinner, of course, there are lots of pubs with some great live music.
4. Go to the theatre in Norwich. As someone who used to play in a student theatre, I thought it would be nice to see what local Norwich theatre has to offer. Reviews about Maddermarket Theatre were positive, so I decided to give it a try. We saw ‘Beth and Life’ produced by a local company, which proved to be a good production for a local company, I thought the main actress (don’t know the name) was quite good.
5. Discover sculptures and art on the streets of Norwich. Keep your eyes open!
6. Visit Norwich castle, built by the Normans 900 years ago, it’s a perfect place to explore local history as well as enjoy rich collections of art and natural history. While you are up on the hill, take in the views of the city as well.
7. Go boating on the Broads (I’d say it’s a must for any visitor to Norfolk) – it’s a really relaxing and cool experience! You can rent a boat for a day from about £130 and have a really relaxing day, driving at 4m.p.h, taking in the views, sunbathing and enjoying the moment.
I could’t believe how organised the place is – they even have speed limits on the river…
Watch out for those yachts, zig-zagging on the river, you are supposed to give them the way…
Keep your eyes open for traditional thatched roof cottages. Some of them can be rented, if you fancy a water-side holiday.
There are some beautiful villages on the Broads (Wroxham, Horning, Ranworth and others), it’s worth to sometimes interrupt your journey and go for a walk or have a coffee. There is lots of free mooring space, many restaurants and coffee shops allow you to moor directly in front of their gardens.
8. Visit Felbrigg Hall and Gardens as well as its picturesque grounds with lots of trails. If you are travelling with children, there’s plenty of space for everyone to go biking, scooting, kite flying or anything else you think of doing.
Don’t miss the lush walled garden with an explosion of beautiful colours in summertime.
We were told Felbrigg is quite unique since it was passed to the National Trust with the contents of the house almost intact, showing how the owners actually lived.
9. Visit Holt – a little market town with Georgian architecture and lots of boutiques, antique shops as well as cafes and restaurants. A café owner told us there are no chain stores in town, which makes it really unique. The place seems to be quite popular with tourists enjoying their afternoon tea in numerous traditional tea rooms and shopping for local artisan creations.
With my three-day break drawing to an end, I was glad I didn’t have to rush to an airport and compete with the crowd for a shorter queue at a security desk or wait for a delayed flight…. A couple of hours of driving and I was home, in time dinner.