After whizzing round the UK and Ireland in parts one and two of Louise’s short break adventure, find out what she got up to in the third and final blog post about her trip…
Day 7: Chester & Cardiff
Date: 27th Jul 13
We started the morning exploring Chester’s historic city centre with its eclectic and high class street performers ranging from a 7 year old singing acoustic songs by the Who to the angelic sounds of the two classical singers near the town clock. Be sure to climb the city walls near the clock and take the path leading to the Cathedral. Here, particularly in the summer time, you can get stunning pictures of this Grade I listed building, its perfectly manicured gardens and large windows. Chester is great for shopaholics, but with two men in tow, there wasn’t much opportunity other than to make a dash for the nearest Lush store and stock up on bath bombs for the day I arrived home! Chester is full of beauty and history and we definitely only got a slice of what it has to offer.
Next Time: plan a couple of days and venture out to Chester Zoo!
Taking the train down to Cardiff is almost a sight in itself, with the picturesque rolling landscape as your backdrop and quaint towns and villages that pass you by. Whilst it’s a couple of hours on the train, it’s definitely a time to reflect and appreciate exactly what is on our doorstep.
We hit Cardiff late afternoon and headed out towards the Castle. Due to timed rail tickets, we didn’t have much time to discover the castle and, in hindisight, it would have been worth getting up early to ensure we had time to discover the grounds. However, we did a self-walking tour around Cardiff before hitting the Jongelurs Comedy Club for an evening of entertainment. We were lucky to be offered great seats next to the comedian lounge, which ensured we were sat talking with the compare and comedians after the show had ended! Be warned, the drinks come in jugs (beer or cocktails) to ensure you don’t disturb the show during a set!
This time, we chose to stay at the Budget Ibis, which was located a little off the beaten track. The hotel itself was quite expensive for the facilities it offered but it did provide us with a cheaper alternative to booking two rooms in Cardiff on a Saturday night. Again, popular with large hen parties and groups so if you’re after a tranquil retreat – you may be in for a surprise!
Day 8: Sailsbury & Stonehenge
As is tradition on Sundays, most attractions in Sailsbury were closed! However, we took a 10 minute walk from the train station to grab a bit to eat and to discover the Cathedral. We then took the bus tour located outside of the railway station towards Stonehenge. The tour bus gives a running commentary of the sights along the way and the history surrounding Stonehenge itself. The guide walks you straight through the barriers and you have an hour to take the audio tour guide around Stonehenge. To be honest, an hour is really all you’ll need to learn the theories of how Stonehenge was formed, unless you plan on stocking up on souvenirs in the gift shop!
Whilst there are many theories around Stonehenge, the most surprising thing for me was my misconceptions on how big it would be! It doesn’t seem quite as big as it does in the pictures, however when you consider how heavy each of the rocks weigh, it’s no wonder! The most popular theories are that it represents a solar calendar, a place of worship and a place of sacrifice. There are some theories that Merlin had a giant build the stone circle or that the devil himself was responsible for the stones – it’s up to you what you believe though but provides a little food for thought!
Top Tip: on hot sunny days, don’t queue at the entrance to get an ice cream. Head out of the barriers and along the car park and you’ll discover the best butterscotch ice cream ever!
The tour ticket also gives you access to Old Sarum, however, as the rain finally caught up with us we decided to stay on the bus, listened to the commentary and head out for the 7:30 to Dorking, where we stayed overnight with friends.
Day 9: Brighton
When at the seaside….yes, we went all British and dined in a local Fish & Chip restaurant on the sea front! From here, we ventured to the famous Brighton Pier and took in the stunning views of the beachfront, the colourful sailing boats and a host of rides too! There’s something very nostalgic about visiting a traditional British seaside town, even one I’ve never been to! There are some great little outdoor bars, quirky souvenir, art and homeware shops, as well as eateries along the beachfront, which are worth a visit for unique gifts to take home.
Remember, although you can buy buckets and spades, the beach is actually pebbled(!) so more often than not, there’s more seagulls nesting on the beach than visitors or locals! And if like me you’ve heard of ChoccyWoccyDooDah, then no visit to Brighton would be complete without venturing inside the chocolatiers quirky front doors and discovering a rich collection of chocolate sculptured masterpieces. Whilst the shop window didn’t feature the iconic stag (seen at Christmas), it did feature a Wizard of Oz theme.
Fancy an adventure of your own…?
If you fancy setting off on your own short break adventure, be sure to book your rail tickets in advance, and where you can, get the timed tickets as these often work out the cheaper option. Also, most tickets can be picked up at the station so there’s no need to carry them around with you – just remember to take the card you paid with them on as this is used as identification!
It sounds simple, but research the destinations before you go and make a list of everything you want to see, otherwise you lose time trying to find the attractions or places you want to see! Also, it’s worth checking out whether there’s any events going on whilst you’re there to make sure you get the most out of your visit.
Whilst it’s easier to travel as a group of 2 or 4, hotels do offer limited rooms suitable for 3 people, just make sure you book early! Hostels can be the cheaper option, but read the online reviews and make sure you’re staying reasonable close to the centre if you’re planning on travelling or venturing off alone.
Have Louise’s adventures inspired you to take your own Ultimate UK Break? Let us know what’s on your UK travel bucket list in the comments below. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 of her adventures to discover the whole journey!