[click-able Leeds photo gallery 2 at end of text]
Today I went to Leeds and left King’s Cross station with estimated arrival time being set at 10:49.
I mistakenly walked into first class and wondered why all the seats said first class and realized I had to go further down on the train/platform to find the coach seating. The trains and train stations I had taken from Deptford to King’s Cross were extremely cold from direct exposure to the icy windy morning.
As the trolley service came up through the aisle of the cabin, I decided I wanted some coffee and asked the serviceman if he was able to take credit cards. He said that he could only apply it to a bill over £5 and that the coffee was only £2.5. A very kind gentleman who sat opposite me was very adamant in offering to purchase my drink instead. Needless to say, I was forced to oblige.
The most frightening thing in the world before you get used to it happening a few times is the sound of a train traveling at high speed in the opposite direction of your own coach on nearby tracks. The entire cabin slightly lurches from the pressure created between the two bullets and the sound of air rattling the windows and doors mimics that of some rail-robbing bandit from those old cowboy movies.
My journey to Leeds was the first outside of London since arriving 4 days earlier. One of the first things I noticed was the sun. It had been extremely cold and windy in London’s cloudless streets, but out here the sun shone his face with almost all the warmth and vigor that I have grown accustomed in Florida in the U.S.
The green fields that clothed about 80% of the landscape leading the train to Leeds were breathtaking. I had never seen so much pastureland at one time before. The train was moving too fast and the tree and wall privacy/sound barriers proved efficient in protecting the landscape from the unhindered violation by the trains. I did manage to capture a few shoots below to give you a general idea.
Leeds was wonderful. I met up with an old friend and her schoolmate where we were able to explore most of the city together. Because I had left my previous black scarf on my last trip to Boston, I needed to purchase another one. I had not expected it to be this cold; and I get cold exceptionally easily. I had only brought a very light, thin black sweater with me. Hoping that the continent would not show itself that chilly, decided to not purchase any other warm accessories, especially since there’s no more space in my bag and I wouldn’t feel right buying duplicates of things I left in my closet back home. I will definitely be adding a scarf to my recommended list of must-haves for travel to northern Europe!
Leeds is a beautiful city dominated by its large and ornate city hall, city museum, and town hall buildings. Leading up from the train station to the central plaza, cobble stone streets were flanked with tens of shopping plazas.
Many of the roads radiating from the city centre were flanked by tens of shops and restaurants. For lunch My friend and her schoolmate introduced me to Nando’s restaurant, a restaurant with menus features an interesting blend of Portuguese and South African fare. There, I had char grilled chicken breast marinated in a special mango sauce. As sides, I had a mixed rice and mashed peas. It was great and I recommend the restaurant, which has numerous chains that I’ve seen in almost every part of the country that I’ve visited so far.
We visited the local museum, the University of Leeds, and a local candy shop that sold treats both common and uncommon in England. It was here that I first saw the previously briefly described “Fluff”. Not being a fan of sugary or sweet or overly processed foodstuffs in any form, I found the idea of whipped, flavoured marshmallows “magically preserved” and semi-viscous in a peanut butter-sized jar totally disgusting. But of course, cultural sensitivity demands a degree of restrained emotional response. So I only winced, instead of heaping curses on who ever thought of such a concoction. The storekeeper said that it could be used like Nutella (another thing that makes me ask “why?” but that is still perhaps more natural). He explained that it could even be spread on toast or eaten directly from the jar.
Before I left, we had tea in one of the plazas, where I was treated to Yorkshire tea by my hosts. After that, I headed back to my hostel in Greenwich.
More Leeds here