Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Break : Nottingham

Day 1: Nottingham

We had a rough start to this day. We had reserved tickets on the train to Nottingham from Paddington Station in the morning. Or so we thought. Turns out, there were no direct trains leaving from Paddington to Nottingham, so they provided us with a ticket for the tube to get us to King’s Cross/ St. Pancras station to catch our train. This would have been fine except for the fact that the time of departure that they gave us was for the train, not the tube. Even though we showed up a half and hour early for the “departure time,” we arrived at the station 5 minutes too late. So, we had to purchase much more expensive train tickets for a later train. Bummer.

But after we had a train ride to calm down a bit and look on the bright side of things, we were doing much better. We arrived in Nottingham, found our hostel, and commenced to wandering about the city. The city centre of Nottingham was pretty cool, with a Ferris Wheel, lots of shops, and a neat combination of old and new architecture. In need of something to do, we visited the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery (for free). While it was a little too “contemporary” for my taste, there were some cool things there. The theme was “Star City: The Future Under Communism “and my favorite part was a giant spacesuit that you could walk around in. After perusing the gift shop (with lots of creative gifts and books), we went to eat at a cool restaurant called “Nando.” It was a kind of South American cuisine featuring chicken, where you sat at nice tables in a cool atmosphere, but ordered and paid for your food at a counter. After that, we just relaxed at the hostel for the rest of the night, and ended up meeting some interesting people from the UK, Spain, and New Zealand.

Day 2: Nottingham

This day had its highs and its lows. The high was most certainly our morning excursion to Lord Byron’s Newstead Abbey. The famous poet’s lovely estate and gardens were wonderfully maintained, and we enjoyed wandering about the estate for a few hours. The abbey itself was also very beautiful, with some fun educational activities to participate in, including a “Dress like Lord Byron” Station, and a room with hats and dresses from the period to try on. It was about a mile’s walk from the bus stop to the estate, but it was a lovely wooded walk and the weather was lovely, so we didn’t mind it much.

Right when we got on the bus back to Nottingham, it started to rain. And our next excursion was to Sherwood Forest! But this was our only day in Nottingham, so we had no choice but to go for it and hope the weather cooperated. We got on another bus heading to Sherwood Forest, asked the bus driver where to get off, and rode it into the English countryside. Unfortunately, the windows were a bit foggy from the rain and the signs for the bus stops were not very large, so we ended up getting off on the wrong stop, 2 or 3 miles from our actual destination. Not good. We wandered in the rain for about an hour and a half until we got into the town nearby, where we found out our mistake. But we didn’t have the energy or the time to make another journey to the actual visitor center, which was still another mile’s walk from our current location, so we settled on going to “The Robin Hood” bar and restaurant. We had some soup and bread, warmed up, and dried out a bit. It was a bit of a failure, but at least we found Robin Hood Lane along the way, and were eating at a restaurant with his namesake.

We were able to catch the bus back to Nottingham with no problems, and when we got back to town we changed clothes and set to wandering farther into town, towards “Nottingham Castle.” It’s not really a “castle” as only the castle walls remain, surrounding a small palace in the center. But by day it is supposed to have some really cool exhibits inside. Next to the castle was the Robin Hood Statue, among some other monuments to the area. The evening was nice and we also saw some other points of interest on our way back to the hostel. But we had another early train in the morning, and we were not missing this one, so we packed up and went to bed.

And now for the Nottingham pictures:

Trail to Newstead Abbey.

Newstead Abbey

Kjerstin and Stephanie outside Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey

Me in the Gardens of Newstead Abbey

Kjerstin and Lauren in Gardens of Newstead Abbey

Gardens - Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey Gardens

And here is our evidence that we were indeed NEAR Sherwood Forest....

We may have settled ....but it was a good cup of soup!

Nottingham Castle

Robin Hood Statue - Nottingham

Julia, Kjerstin, and Stephanie in Downtown Nottingham

This cool thing is called the "sky mirror." It looked like a giant contact lens :)

Stay tuned! Only one more blog entry and you will have read of our entire spring break vacation!

Thanks for reading ,


Shelby (and Kjerstin)

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