Strictly speaking it was 30 hours but I think 24 hours makes for a catchier title! I have been to Norwich before largely due to the fact I have family in Norfolk. The last trip was actually last Christmas to spend the day with my Aunt which was a short but sweet outing.
I managed to get a ticket to see one of my favourite bands at the Norwich Carrow Road stadium. That band being Take That. I am going to write a separate blog post about the gig as it warrants its own! As I decided staying over was pretty much the best option for me I thought I would make the most of my time there and so made some plans of things to do.
There is a vast choice of accommodation from luxury hotels to your cheap and cheerful Travelodge and Premier Inn. I actually booked my hotel way back in November when the tour was announced as I knew they would get booked up. I book most of my hotels through booking.com as you often have to pay nothing until you get there with free cancellation which was ideal in this scenario if I could not get a ticket. I decided on a hotel which was 5 minutes from the station and 10 minutes from the stadium. It is also only a 10-15 minute walk to the centre of Norwich centre. I managed to get a room at Central Hotel which is along the riverside. Breakfast was not included with my deal but it was only £5 for a full English or £2.50 for a Continental which I paid upon arrival. I was lucky enough to get a river view room at the front of the hotel which was lovely and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The only negative was that as it was a hot night I wanted the window open and the traffic along that stretch of road is very noisy and all night long. For the location and room itself though it was worth putting up with as I was back in my room with a cup of tea just 20 minutes after gig ended which was divine!
I arrived in Norwich on Friday 16th June the day of the concert. I got there at midday and earliest I could check in was 1pm. So I headed straight into the centre. My first stop was Norwich Cathedral. I have been to Norwich a few times now but never been in there. You can take a really nice walk along the canal from the station straight to the Cathedral. Directions can be found on the website here. Its free to look around but donations are gratefully received. There is a shop and restaurant onsite too. I entered it from the side of the building and it looked like Hogwarts! It is a beautiful building and has stunning glassed stain windows. *Tip* If you don’t want to buy a guide there is a really good free leaflet detailing all the pivotal sights with photos which you can pick up at the entrance.* I spent about an hour there but you could easily spend more it was very peaceful.
By this time I was in need of refreshment. I wandered around the side streets in the centre. It is like a warren! I finally decided to head into Waterstones Cafe as it was less busy than some others and was nice and cool. I had a quick tea and slice of cake and then headed off to check in at the hotel.
There are many pubs and restaurants in the centre and also on the way to the centre from the station. Obviously the night I went by 4.30pm the places near me were brimming and waiting times for food were up to 2 hours. I made the most of the summer evening and bought some bits and pieces from a Tesco and sat by the river instead. There are the usual chains like Nandos, Prezzo, Wetherspoons, Bella Italia as well as Five Guys (which I was very close to going to). I would recommend heading to the side streets where there are local restaurants and something different.
Morning came and breakfast was consumed. I headed back along the river to the Cathedral where I chilled out for an hour listening to my music. Being super organised that I am I had pre-booked a walking tour via Visit Norwich. They do a few different themed tours plus a City of Centuries one which runs from Easter to October which is the one I did. They are 90 minutes long and only cost £5. You meet the guide at The Forum which is a new building and opposite a very imposing church. It was so so hot by 11am I was close to forgetting it but as I did not have plans until 1pm it was time to kill. There was only 4 of us on the tour (they take a maximum of 20) me, a guy from Sydney who was over doing research at the University and two Japanese ladies who were researching Norwich for a TV documentary they were going to produce. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we walked all around the city finding out stories about the tudor times, how it used to look, the castle, the streets. It was fascinating and I am so glad I did it. We actually did two hours of walking (and I got slightly sunburnt shoulders) but it was worth every penny. I would highly recommend it as if you are short of time you really find out a lot about the city and feel like you have soaked up some proper culture. *I would recommend pre-booking especially in peak seasons and take water!*
I was in need of re-hydration by this point and after meeting up with my friend who lives in Norfolk, we headed straight to a pub right by the market called The Garnet and caught up over a couple of ice cold drinks. We had a wander around the shops (largely to savour the air conditioning!) Norwich is often listed as one of the top ten places to go shopping due to the fact it has a lot of stores but its not all under one roof like a mall but along cobbled streets and roads. A lot of it is pedestrianised too. *If you are a bit of Harry Potter geek there is a great shop inside a shopping arcade right next to the Castle. It has official merchandise including the wands and jewellery so I would definitely check that out.*
Time was running out fast and so it was a stroll back to the riverside area to get some food. There is a section of shops and cinema not far from the station which has a Frankie & Bennys, Jamies Italian, Wetherspoons etc etc Unfortunately as it was so hot the Spoons which is by the river was heaving so we opted for Nandos. We also got some Ben & Jerrys ice cream from the cinema complex and then it was time for me to head back to London.
I really enjoyed my short stay In Norwich. I liked the people, the shops, the culture. The concert was great and a venue I would definitely return to. I was fortunate that the weather was stunning which always makes things shinier but its somewhere I will return I am sure.