Some of the best things in life come when you least expect it. The same goes for travelling. Sometimes some of the best places may not be listed on a Lonely Planet guide – you just happen to chance upon it while being lost on your way to somewhere and voila! you couldn’t stop talking about it to anyone who would care to listen.
But if I keep relying on that philosophy in life, I would never have discovered Norwich, a city in Norfolk, of which one travel journalist has labeled to be “on the way to nowhere”.
It sounds harsh, but there is some truth to it. Norwich is located in East Anglia, that little bump in the east of England. It is not easily accessible from any major cities, and there is nothing but barren land between London and the place. Moreover, train prices in Norfolk are generally more expensive than the rest of the kingdom, which only further discouraged people from visiting the place.
So my decision to visit Norwich had to be completely deliberate (there is no other way I would have ended up there otherwise) although it did take me almost a year to board that Greater Anglia train from Liverpool Street.
I never doubted that Norwich was going to be lovely, but the comments by some people about the place kind of got to me…
“What is there in Norwich?“, “Why would you go there?”, “I mean Norwich is lovely, but why?” and a few more things along the line.
… that when I got off the train, I was wary and wanted to take the next train back. I was even hiding behind a pillar at the station, trying to hide from my host but he somehow still managed to find me.
And it was a good thing he did, since I proceeded to have one of the best weekends I have had in a long time.
I fell in love with the city right at the first stop, an area at the outskirt of the Mousehold Heath. It was a hill overlooking the whole of Norwich, and I took to calling it the “Prison Hill” since it was located right across the street from the HM Prison Norwich.
It was wise of him to bring me here since I love hills with a view.
Apart from the stunning view, there is something else to be said about the prison: a lovely cafe called Cafe Britannia located at the former Britannia Barracks, which is now part of the prison. It served affordable brunch (and yummy-looking desserts) that I wished I got to eat more. But the most amazing thing about the cafe (apart from its cosy atmosphere and good food) was that they employ offenders. I couldn’t remember a much better feeling than eating a cheese scone and drinking tea with a great company while contributing to a good cause.