Norwich A City of Stories (feature)

Norwich: A City of Stories

Hidden Gems

A true highlight of Adventure 2018 was my visit to Norwich, England — the only English city in a National Park — the Norfolk Broads. However, as always, before I could explore this city’s rich culture, I had to get from Cromer to Norwich. This seemed a daunting task, yet lucky for me Martin, Cromer Country Club’s Entertainment Manager, was wonderful enough to help a small group navigate their way to the city.

Basically, we took the X44 bus from Cromer to Norwich.

me at bus stop

The trip took approximately an hour, but I confess I don’t remember much of the ride. I was still fighting jetlag and ended up taking a quick nap during the ride. Ha Ha.

Anyhoo, our stop in Norwich was next to Norwich Cathedral. This location was perfect because the cathedral was one of the places I wanted to visit. Also, it was an easy location to remember where to catch the bus back to Cromer.

As the cathedral’s free tour didn’t begin for 45 minutes, Martin took us on a walking tour of the city. First up — The Square Box on the Hill, better known as Norwich Castle. The castle’s design intrigued me, as it is totally unique to other castles I’ve visited around the world. It was great to see it up close.

Norwich Castle
Norwich Castle

Norwich Castle is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. It was the first Google “suggestion” when I searched for Things to Do in Norwich. The Normans built the castle as a Royal Palace approximately 900 years ago. I found it interesting the castle was built to be a royal palace and not a fortification. Even more interesting was the fact no Norman kings ever lived in it. The only time a royal is known to stay at the castle was in 1121 when Henry I stayed for Christmas. I also learned the castle was used as the county gaol from around 1220 to 1887.

Norwich Castle - The Square box on the Hill
Norwich Castle – The Square Box on the Hill

The only sad part about this tour — the Dungeon was closed. I was looking forward to descending into the bowels of Norwich Castle and “feeling the hairs rise on the back of the neck.” This was one of only two “downers” to my day.

Robert Kett Castle sign

After the visit to the castle, Martin led us to the famous Norwich Market. The market is one of the largest and oldest open-air markets in England. I took delight in surveying the more than 200 stalls offering everything from food, produce, meat, bread to clothes, jewellery, household goods, and my personal favorite – hats.

What a shopping extravaganza! I was so caught up shopping I forgot to take photos! Ughh! Next time I promise.

Next, we made our way back to the Cathedral for the tour.

Sadly, Martin didn’t join us for the tour. His duties back at the resort required his attention and he had to return. Nevertheless, he left this wanderer with better knowledge and thirst to explore the rich heritage of the medieval city.

Following the castle tour, I headed to Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. I wasn’t in the mood for Italian, but I’d watch Mr. Oliver’s show the night before and thought “why not?”

In less than 15 minutes, I had my answer … and it wasn’t good.

This was the second “downer” of the day. The restaurant’s atmosphere was nice and warming, but that’s where the good ended. My Silky Tuscan Pâté Bruschetta wasn’t silky; it tasted like it looked – TERRIBLE. This tasted like expired almond butter spread on very cold toasted bread topped with rancid onions.

Silky Tuscan Pâté Bruschetta
Silky Tuscan Pâté Bruschetta

The Tagliatelle Bolognese wasn’t much better. Actually, the Chef Boyardee spaghetti I had two nights before tasted better than the Tagliatelle Bolognese. The meal was dry, had no flavor and tasted as if it had been prepared earlier that day and simply reheated in the microwave before serving.

Tagliatelle Bolognese
Tagliatelle Bolognese

Sorry Mr. Oliver. You may be a culinary wizard, but on this day — the food didn’t measure up, and it didn’t take me 15 minutes to figure that out.

After lunch, my mission was to explore more of this marvelous town.

First up — Tombland Alley and Cathedral Close.

Tombland Alley
Tombland Alley

Tombland Alley is a hidden path that was once part of an ancient trackway that crossed the city. Legend has it that Horatio Nelson is thought to have lived in the alley when he was a pupil at Norwich School. Now that is a nice bit of random information to remember for my next trivia night.

Cathedral Close is an enclosed an area of around 44 acres and is the largest English cathedral close. Separated from Tombland by two gateways, there is a quartet of statues honoring English heroes, including Edith Cavell, a Norfolk-born nurse. She was matron of a hospital in Brussels during the German Occupation of World War I. She was shot by the Germans in 1915 fro helping allied soldiers escape.

Cathedral Close 360
Cathedral Close 360
Edith Cavell statue
Edith Cavell statue

Next, I made my way back up toward City Hall to visit the War Memorial. Designed by Edwin Lutyens, it is a First World War memorial that originally stood at the east end of Guildhall, but was moved in 2010 opposite City Hall. The memorial is a designated a Grade II listed building.

Interesting tidbit — built into the structure were two metal caskets, one of which contained a list of Norwich’s dead from the war. The contents of the second is unknown. Also, the memorial is designed so that gas can be burnt inside it, with the smoke and flames emitted through the flambeaux at either end. Interesting!!

Norwich War Memorial
Norwich War Memorial

Following the visit to the War Memorial, I took a few moments to explore The Forum. I mistook the building for a shopping mall, but it is much more. The Forum is also the home of BBC East, which broadcasts daily TV and radio news across the Eastern Region, the Norwich Tourist Information Centre, the Forum Shop by Jarrold and MINT.

The most curious thing I saw was this:

The Pig
The Pig

Not sure what it stood for exactly, but it did make me stop and think for a moment.

I continued my walk and guess what? I ended in in what is obviously my favorite place in the universe — the local book store. Two bookstores actually.

Before I headed back to Cromer, I made a quick trip to Zizzi Italian restaurant for dessert while I waited for the bus.

During this vacation I’d walked approximately 250,000 steps and burnt approximately 300 calories a day walking around Cromer, Overstand and Norwich.

All those calories were lost the moment I bite into the most devilishly delicious salted caramel chocolate brownie I ever tasted, but it was so worth it!!! The brownie was served warm, infused with gooey salted caramel, topped with giant white chocolate shavings, and covered with rich hot chocolate sauce and French vanilla ice cream. OMGosh!! I devoured it in mere moments! YUMMMMY!!

The bus arrived, ending my tour of Norwich. But what a blast!!!

Norwich isn’t London, but like London, it has a rich cultural heritage, character, and diversity. I’m glad I didn’t pass on the chance to explore this magnificent gem!! It is truly a City of Stories.

Norwich - A City of Stories

Until next time, remember …


me in front of a church


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