Over the weekend, I hopped coasts and spent some time in Wales and the Northwest of England. Though I saw some of the Welsh coastlines and picked up the language, well one-word “ARAF” or “SLOW,” I was mostly in Chester, England.
Chester is a lively city near the Welsh border and surrounded by walls. Apparently, it was a Roman fortress, which can be seen through its sandstone walls and excavated Roman amphitheater. I thought it was the perfect place to spend a rainy, then sunny, then rainy/windy, then sunny again Saturday afternoon. English weather, am I right?
If you find yourself in Chester for the day, then I highly suggest some of the activities on my list.
Start your morning with a proper breakfast. I dined at two local cafes and had great experiences at both. Marmalade serves up typical English breakfasts but also has a fantastic hot chocolate list. My favorite meal was at Hanky Panky Pancakes. Along with a fabulous name, this establishment also has mouth-watering pancakes. You can choose sweet, savory, and even alcoholic pancakes. Since I am horribly indecisive, I took a solid 10 minutes to create my combo, which turned out to be not super impressive.
For my savory pancake, I had spicy chorizo with goat cheese and a thick balsamic drizzle on top. Now I know what you’re thinking, savory pancakes? Gross. But these aren’t your typical pancake. They are very thin made with a simple mixture, so you don’t feel overly stuffed at the end.
I also chose a sweet pancake because I am a firm believer in dessert and treatin’ yo self. Anyhow, I’d never heard of strove day or pancake day aside from the American one where IHOP gives your a free pancake. On strove day the typical pancake is more like a thin crepe with sugar sprinkled on top and lemon. Since I’d never had one before, I decided to go for it, and add a healthy stack of cream on top.
Bottom-line, go to Hanky Panky for a meal you won’t regret. Until you try on clothes in Zara 15 minutes later with a bloated belly. I digress….
Breakfast pretty much filled me up both days, but Kurtis met me early on Saturday so that we could have lunch together. Our chosen spot was called The Burger Shed. Now I’m not huge on burgers, but my oh my did they have a delicious spread. They have burger, hotdogs, and milkshakes galore to choose from. I had a bacon and bleu cheese burger complete with poutine and an oreo milkshake. YUM! Some of the food such as the meat and cheese is locally sourced from other Chester stores, so it’s not just a dumpy burger place like McDonald’s.
Otherwise, there are plenty of little cafes to choose from and pubs with English food, if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you are into shopping, then you’ve pretty much nailed it with Chester. There are a variety of shops and mini-malls all within walking distance. I spent a lot of time in Zara, TkMaxx (like TjMaxx lolol), and H&M, but there are a million more to choose from. You can buy anything from artisanal cheese to hiking boots without leaving the area. Do yourself, but maybe not your bank account, a favor and snag some new clothes.
What else is there?
While eating and shopping are some of my favorite pastimes, there are many other activities in Chester. I walked part of the city walls, which took a good amount and got my FitBit steps up. The walk includes the ancient Roman amphitheater, the River Dee, the Chester Castle and University, and some excellent sites of the city. You could spend all day roaming about and even getting lost in a nearby town.
This was probably my favorite find. The Storyhouse is a massive library, cafe, theater, and cinema all combined into one beautiful building. I spent some time browsing and reading in the library, which has an unusual setup. It feels more like you’ve stumbled into a cafe surrounded by books than an actual library. I didn’t even notice it was a library until I saw the stickers on the book’s spines. When it was too chilly for me to stay outside/ I didn’t feel like walking anymore, I saw a show at their cinema. The cinema is just one screen and only holds a 100 people, but it was the perfect place to cozy up and watch Monster’s Inc. on a Sunday afternoon.
Apparently, Chester puts on a number of exhibits as well, which can be seen in the Art Centre. Unfortunately, I missed the latest one by a few days, but they came highly suggested. There’s also the Grosvenor Museum, the Chester Cathedral, and a falconry to explore.
If you’re in the area, then Chester is definitely worth a visit. For the more adventurous, the 870-mile Wales Coast walking path begins in Chester. It’s also a short 40-minute train ride to Liverpool so that you can hop from one city to the next.