We didn’t have breakfast provided at the hostel so we treated ourselves to breakfast out. We set off in the direction of the old town figuring we would find somewhere along the way. Cafe Rouge was right near the middle of the walled area of town and had a delicious looking menu. We both had French Toast that was piled high with strawberries, blueberries and banana slices. It was adorable looking…and delicious looking…so delicious looking that we dug right in and neglected to take a photo…sorry!
We then caught a 10:30 walking tour of town. Walking tours are just the greatest things. They are informative, entertaining and take you to all of the hot spots in town. Chester is really the most lovely town!
You’ll learn about Kristin’s favorite era in history later on, but for now we’ll talk about Justine’s. She loves the Tudor era and Chester is full of original Tudor architecture…or so we thought. The gorgeous Black and White buildings were actually built during Victorian times because Queen Victoria enjoyed the Black and White Tudor buildings from the past more than the current Georgian Brick buildings. Justine wasn’t complaining! She wants to build a house Tudor architecture style for herself back home! Wouldn’t this house just blend right in to a Stony neighborhood?
Also on our walking tour we got to experience some of the Roman ruins. The Romans had built a fortress named Dewa at this location almost 2000 years ago. We saw the remains of the largest Roman Amphitheater in England and we got to walk along the walls of the city. The walls don’t date back to the Romans, but they were built in later centuries on the same location the Roman walls once stood. One of the most interesting Roman ruins we got to see was located in the basement of a fast food restaurant (we were told many of the fancier shops don’t let tourists down to see the ruins in their basements). In the basement of this baked potato shop we found the remains of a Roman bath house.
After the walking tour we had hit most of the spots we wanted to see…So helpful! But we still had a short ‘To Do List’…
First we went to the Dewa Roman Experience. Kristin has a bit of a thing for the Romans…they are her favorite era of history, so this was an exciting outing for her! It was a little odd of an exhibit, but very interesting. It started with a couple of rooms of fake people talking to you that showed you what life was like for the Romans. Then we walked through some of the actual archeological sites of Chester. You could see the different layers that had built up over the millennia: starting with the Romans almost 3 meters below ground level, then the Saxon era (which had the least to see as this was the dark ages), then Medieval and Post-Medieval. Each was marked by different ground types and debris. Very neat to see!
Then there was a museum area of things they had dug up. Some of the most impressive things were the detailed coins and jewelry. It’s amazing the intricacies they could achieve two thousand years ago! Finally came the interactive area! This was the most fun! We build mosaics and arches, guessed roman numerals & god names and got to do some photo ops. We also felt how heavy Roman armor was…did you know the soldiers carried 40kg everyday?! Yikes!
We then went back to the Chester Cathedral, which we had seen first on our walking tour, to actually go inside. We got both a student discount and a discount because of our tour in the morning so it ended up being super cheap!
The current Chester Cathedral was built off the Norman abbey of the 1100’s, in the 14th century. During the reign of Henry VIII the monasteries were shut down but surprisingly & luckily it was not destroyed like so many like it. Instead the abbey became a Church of England Cathedral. The Cathedral today is gorgeous and unlike the Cathedrals we’ve seen so far…this one was not as lavish but we were more impressed with it’s detail and how the different centuries of architecture were combined. The Gothic arches blended in perfectly with the Norman arches and the details in the wood carvings on the seating and decorative carvings was exquisite! The roof also had a wonderful wooden look that we were particularly taken with. The stain glass should also be noted…they were full of brilliant colors and shone extremely bright. Just gorgeous! We also enjoyed that you could actually see the stories they were telling.
We finished off our Chester visit with a stop at Subway (for a 6″ sub for lunch) and a grocery store (to pick up some food to eat on the train & snacks for the next couple of days). Then we hit the train station. The trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon is 3 hours, however that would be on a direct train…which there aren’t. So it took us 4 hours with 2 transfers to get there. but we are such train traveling experts that this was no problem! Because of the time we got out of Chester and into Stratford we ate supper on the train…here is a photo to make up for not having one of breakfast…
Not pictured are the smore cookies we bought. We had one for dessert. The most exciting part though was the milk! We shared a liter right out of the bottle 🙂
Upon arrival in Stratford we were ready to grab a taxi. Our hostel is kind of out of the way and the buses had already stopped running for the day. But then a nice old English lady offered to drive us. She was another frail looking thing that we trusted wouldn’t kidnap us. We just love helpful old English ladies!
Now we’re sitting in the hostel drinking tea and planning out the next 2 days. This hostel is so worth the distance from the train station…it is totally the nicest one we’ve been in so far. It’s big and clean and just all around nice!
Things we Learned Today:
– The English used to really hate the Welsh…to the point that they wouldn’t put hands on the clock tower side that faces Wales, because they were not giving the Welsh the time of day!
Highlights of the Day:
Kristin – Putting on a Roman soldier’s helmet and pretending I was marching off down an incredibly constructed Roman road (which thanks to my history class I can tell you all about) to add to the gigantic, ever-expanding Roman Empire!
Justine – When I walked up the stairs to the balcony of a Tudor architecture building the two guys playing a violin and keyboard on the side of the road started playing Titanic music…sigh…what could be more perfect!
Love, Luck & Legionaries (that’s what you call a Roman soldier!),