Chester, a place of hidden treasures. I came here once in the 80’s; I remember the galleried shops, the clock and the walls, but little else. But then again, the company I was with at the time wasn’t the most stimulating!
Roll on 35 years and (some) of the memories came straight back. The walls! Why it is that some historic cities still have their Roman and Norman walls, while the governors of the city of Hull decided it would be more advantageous to knock them down in the name of progress? You can walk almost the entire city of Chester upon these walls, enjoying lovely views and ancient history side by side.
We stayed at a Travelodge; itself opposite the grounds of an amphitheatre amongst which roamed many young children and the occasional adult dressed in Roman garb.
Ever in search of a decent hostelry, we headed out in search of The Cavern of the Curious Gnome which was advertised as a craft and Belgian beer bar. Less of a cavern; it was more of a wander along the ‘Rows’ into a very up-market wine bar and then upstairs after asking for directions. It was indeed curious, with mushroom shaped seats at the bar and gnomes painted on the walls; but an excellent selection of beers. We grabbed two glasses of an excellent 11 percent Abbey Ale before venturing out for something to eat.
We dined at Sergio’s Italian before taking a walk around the walls. Jill was a bit squiffy and didnâ€™t remember this much the next day.
On Wednesday we spent more time exploring the city centre. Jill had been looking for a guide to the ‘Rose Walk’. It was only after she got one that I realise it was the ‘Rows Walk’. The 700 year old galleried shops that line the central old quarter of Chester are an incredible piece of architecture and history. I don’ know whether there’s anything like it left anywhere else in Britain.
The premises lining these Rows were very varied; from book shops to tea rooms to solicitor’s offices; an amazing eclectic mix of businesses. I shudder to think how much the rents must be!
After a few drinks at the excellent basement bar of Beer Heroes we stumbled upon Stile Nepolitano; the award-winning home of pizza chef Giacomo Guido. He apparently visited Chester from his London base and fell in love with the place. I have to say that the choice of pizza was very limited and mostly vegetarian, but what we had was superb. The thinnest and most edible pizza base Iâ€™ve ever had.
On both mornings we had an excellent breakfast at Zuger’s; just around the corner from the Travelodge, (highly recommended). After our second breakfast it was back on the road to home after another most excellent weekend.