JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH JEREMY PATERSON FROM NORWICH, ENGLAND!
Jeremy Paterson started life as a native Englishman who wondered about the world. Now he’s teamed up with his American wife to go and see if it’s just as good as he imagined! They met in Norwich, England where Jeremy lived for 13 years, drinking in the East Anglian lifestyle. Together, they now lead a nomadic existence travelling the globe and writing for their blog Cultura Obscura. Here they write articles that focus on dark tourism and street art, as well as the many wonderful and exciting experiences that life on the road has to offer. So far for Jeremy this includes climbing to the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, eating the northern-most Indian food in the world (in Iceland), and documenting the aftermath of 20th century war in Europe. It’s not all fun, but it is always fascinating!
Norwich is a cathedral city in Norfolk, England. The Wensum is the principal river on which the city was founded. The famous Fye Bridge is the oldest known crossing point on this river.
Set only two hours away from London by train, Norwich’s medieval alleys and courtyards, historic cobbled streets, city walls, museums and the majestic Norman castle and cathedral makes it a great tourist destination. It also has Europe’s largest permanent market.
When is the best time to visit Norwich?
Mid-spring to summer would be the best time to visit. Norwich has a great many parks and green spaces to enjoy, so being here to see them in full blossom shouldn’t be missed. Places like Waterloo Park, Lion Wood or Mousehold Heath make great spots for a gentle stroll through nature, and if you’re travelling with family then Eaton Park has a whole host of activities for both adults and children, including playgrounds, tennis courts, pitch and putt, even a model boat racing pool!
This period also has some of the city’s larger cultural festivals. Norwich has festivals running throughout the year, covering all manner of different cultural aspects. The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is an annual celebration of music, literature, dance and visual arts that takes place around the end of May/June. It’s one of England’s oldest city festivals, and has been held every year since 1824.
In July there is also the Lord Mayor’s Celebration; another annual event with a long weekend of fun activities, outdoor performances, street theatre and music. This all culminates with the Lord Mayor’s Procession – Norwich’s own mini mardi gras! The Lord Mayor and a fleet of specially decorated floats form a parade that winds through the city streets. The floats are designed and embellished by local organisations and charities, and are accompanied by street dancers and musicians.
Which is the most convenient and favoured transport of Norwich?
Even though Norwich was England’s largest city for a few hundred years, it is still small enough to be able to successfully get around on foot. You could walk from one far end of the city to the other in an hour. Fortunately, all the main activities are in the city centre and are within easy walking distance of each other.
If you’re needing to get somewhere fast, there is a bus network that operates all across the city. Single/one-trip tickets and daily passes are available from the driver when you get on, and routes can take you out to the surrounding villages/regions if required. There are also multiple private taxi firms that can take you straight to the door of your destination.
Or get on to one of the City Sightseeing Norwich Hop on Hop off Tour bus. The bus makes nine stop tour of the city, takes you to twelve stunning heritage sites and Mousehold Heath parkland with a football pitch and pitch-and-putt. For more information on the tour timings and pricing click here.
What are the different modes of transport available from the airport to the city?
Norwich has its own international airport which can be reached by bus or by local taxi. The busses run from the city centre every 30 minutes and the journey takes 40-50 minutes depending on traffic.
For flights from London airports, there are cross-country busses (such as National Express or Megabus) which depart direct to airports from the local bus station or you can get the train down to London Liverpool Street station (though you will have to connect/transfer to get to one of the airports from there via the tube/London Underground or a bus).
What are the top three must visit places in Norwich?
The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell is a hidden gem. It’s not on most people’s radar, but it almost blew my mind how much I didn’t know about Norwich after I went. Behind a deceptively small entrance, there’s 3 floors of interactive historical content covering hundreds of years of Norwich’s past. Fun, informative and great entertainment for children and adults alike!
Norwich Cathedral and its grounds are not to be missed. Located by the river, the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity is almost 900 years old and has beautiful cloisters, art galleries and a modern refectory which provides drinks and refreshments. Walking through the grounds is like stepping back in time, with gorgeous gardens and lanes, and even sculptures in the main courtyard.
The Grosvenor Fish Bar. A food-based destination! The UK is all about the fish ’n’ chips, and the Grosvenor Fish Bar is the best of the best. They won the Visit England’s Tourism Superstar award in 2017 and their menu is one of the most delicious and varied you can find. They have a converted underground dining area and if you pop into the Birdcage Pub opposite you can order and they will deliver across the road to your table!
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Norwich?
For a taste of local culture, there are multiple seaside towns within easy driving distance (as little as 45 minutes away). I recommend heading north to Sheringham or Cromer – both are fine examples of the idyllic English seaside getaway. There’s even a national footpath route that connects the two, so for those who enjoy a good walk you can leave your car behind and head out to either town by train from Norwich station, have some lunch and then hike over to the other place to enjoy that too!
Sheringham is a traditional English seaside town within the county of Norfolk. Steam train rides and wonderful cafes makes a visit to Sheringham a memorable experience. For more things to do and see in Sheringham, click here.
Cromer is a beach side holiday spot which lies four miles east of Sheringham on the North Sea coastline. The town is also famous for the Cromer crab which is the major source of income for the local fishermen. Once there indulge in activities like surfing or paddleboarding, spend time on the sandy beaches, explore museums or walk along the Norfolk coast path. Check out the ten best places to visit in Cromer here.
If it’s nature that you’re craving, then Norwich is right on the edge of the Norfolk Broads. The Norfolk Broads is the only English National Park with a city in it. An area of natural beauty, wildlife and conservation just twenty minutes out of the city by car, the Broads cover over a hundred square miles of navigable waterways and lakes perfect for hiking, sailing, dog walking, bird watching and family picnics!
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Norwich?
Aside from the Lord Mayor’s Celebration, the big holiday of Norwich is Christmas. Every year the streets are lined with Christmas lights and there are pop-up events such as ice-skating and Santa grottos. There are also multiple Christmas markets that sell all manner of festive treats and decorations.
What is the most loved local food of Norwich? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
It may not be specific to Norwich, but like I mentioned earlier, in the area Cromer crab is particularly prized. Fished fresh in nearby Cromer (naturally) it is available in many restaurants in the city and also in the local market.
Norwich is very vegetarian friendly. My wife is vegetarian and we have no trouble finding meat-free meals in almost every restaurant we go to. There are several places that specialise in vegetarian/vegan cuisine, such as Wild Thyme, Namaste (Indian vegetarian), Moorish (a falafel bar) and the Typsy Vegan!
Where to head for shopping in Norwich?
Aside from the main high streets of Norwich, there are two malls/shopping centres in the city – Castle Mall and Chapelfield. Castle Mall is appropriately located underneath Norwich Castle, right in the heart of the city. Chapelfield is two minute’s walk from the bus station, right on the high street. Both complexes offer multiple floors of shops and restaurants, both have food courts and they are within easy walking distance of each other.
Norwich has a permanent outdoor covered market that has been in operation since the eleventh century! Situated in the main square next to the city hall, it contains over 200 stalls offering all manner of goods, foodstuffs, domestic items, toys, digital media, souvenirs … you name it!
Norwich’s main export for the last 160 years has been a condiment: mustard. Jeremiah Colman founded Colman’s of Norwich in the early 1800s and it remains one of the oldest existing food brands. Colman’s mustard is available worldwide and retains much of the character of Norwich wherever it is consumed. Make sure you pick up a jar!
Which are the best streets of Norwich worthy of taking a stroll on?
Elm Hill is close to the heart of the city centre and is one of the oldest streets in the city. Many of the buildings lining the cobblestones are from the 16th century, and it has been used as a filming location for many period television and film productions.
In 2007 part of the movie Stardust was filmed there (the Britons Arms coffee house doubled for the Slaughtered Prince pub).
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
The Cathedral of St John the Baptist has a tower that offers a fantastic view of Norwich. During the summer period the cathedral runs a tour of the tower, which is not for the faint of heart as it involves climbing a 280 step spiral staircase! Once at the top, though, the effort is clearly worth it. Tours are on Saturdays at 1.30pm and cost £5 per adult, £3.50 per child.
Would you suggest any shows in Norwich to drama, music or art lovers?
Norwich is a modest cultural focal point for travelling entertainment, as almost all major acts/productions play here if they’re touring England and the UK. There are several venues that cater to different kinds of evenings out:
For stage shows, musicals, dramatic plays and major music gigs the Norwich Theatre Royal would be your main destination. Located in the city centre, they have up to 400 performances annually playing to up to 1300 people at a time.
For comedy and smaller music events head to the Norwich Playhouse. It’s situated on the river and boasts not only a fine 300 seat auditorium but also an excellent bar/café with a very chill vibe. Almost every touring stand-up comic in the UK will play here, and tickets sell out months in advance so book early to avoid disappointment!
Art lovers can find all manner of galleries throughout the city. St Benedicts street has a number of converted churches that put on exhibitions throughout the year. The Royal Arcade (just opposite the market in the main square) is also a great area to find new art galleries/shops with pieces for sale (and to view!).
Where can one spot street art in Norwich?
Norwich has an increasing number of murals dotted about its winding streets. One main area for street art is St Stephens underpass, located at the top of St Stephens Street underneath the roundabout (very near to Chapelfield shopping centre). This houses a collection of street art murals from all manner of artists, and has some amount of rotation so you never know if you’re going to see something new!
Also, see if you can spot the dragon mural further down St Stephens Street towards the castle! It’s opposite Rampant Horse Street, and yes, that is a street name in Norwich, but not the most unusual one!
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Norwich?
Unfortunately there are no significant local apps that I’m aware of!
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Norwich?
Like many cities in the UK, Norwich has a local football team (Norwich City Football Club). As football is exceedingly popular in England, on any day there is a home match scheduled there will be significantly more people out and about in the city, especially the Riverside area where the stadium is located. If you wish to avoid large crowds, check online to see the match schedule and potentially avoid heading into the city centre around that time. It’s still as great a place as it is on other days, but it’ll be very busy!
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