traveling single, part 2

28May09

This past weekend I went to yet another midsize/slightly obscure British city by myself. It was good, actually, less weird than my last trip. I’m really enjoying getting out of London, which is a bit concerning. And I’m learning a few things along the way.

1. Xenophobia can rear its head at the most unexpected times, mainly around the use of “British”/”English”.

2. I’d say never spend a Sunday night in this particular town unless you live there and have access to your own kitchen but I suspect this is a fairly common phenomenon. It’s probably just best to avoid Sunday evenings in midsize towns. Any restaurant that wasn’t a national chain or that served Indian cuisine (or in a hotel) was closed on Sunday. Even national coffee chains were closed by 4:30. This included local cafes and tearooms (closed all day Sunday) as well as the high-end restaurants that specialized in modern British cuisine with the all-important focus on local produce. Closed. I ended up at an Indian restaurant recommended by the owner of the B&B where I stayed. It was good Indian but still a disappointment.

3. Cathedrals are better tourist spots than castles. I’m pretty much over castles. Every city worth its salt seems to have one that’s been turned into some kind of museum. Some of them are worth the entrance fee (and note, many of these entrance fees are insanely steep). But the castle in the place I visited this weekend was no Edinburgh Castle. I got my student discount but still I’m not sure it was worth my money. Inside was interesting enough but not really worth my time or money. On the contrary, the cathedral was much better. It’s much more contemplative. I happened to be there during Evensong so there was beautiful music. So it was more meaningful in a way that the castle was not. And it was free.

I’m planning at least two more trips while I’m here. So we’ll see.

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