Day 5 of my trip sees me in my 4th city – Exeter. I do not know what to make of this city. It is a college city with lots of students and in the middle they have an old cathedral, a strange combination indeed.
After I touched down at Exeter St David’s - one of the two or three stations this city has, I headed for the cathedral. Again I was walking blind and walked towards what I thought was the cathedral. There was a huge cross showing over the many houses and cross implies cathedral. This city is built on a sort of hill and so the houses are one behind the other. It is supposed to be a walled city with a castle in between. Most of the buildings were lost in WW2, but a few remain.
I lost my way but made it to a nice picnic spot with a nice looking pedestrian bridge. This is the quay (I am not very sure) and looked like a quite picnic spot. From here I found my way and made it to the cathedral. Again a beautiful cathedral but unlike St David’s the entry fee is 5GBP. I would say that unless you want to see the longest unsupported single span roof you can give this one a miss. They had a discount for tea and cake at the Refectory which I did partake (!!!) of in the evening.
After the church was done I went to the Guildhall which was under renovation. Nearby the cathedral was another one called Cathedral Close but I just took a photo as I had another walking tour to go on.
So far I was not impressed!
The Red Coat Tours begins from near the cathedral and again this is a free walking tour. This evening they did ‘Elegant Exeter’, which was better than I expected and way better that the Bath tour I did. On the tour they showed parts of the Walled City, Victorian Architecture and all the good stuff.
Looking around I began to see more and more of the college crowd, and finally when we did reach the many shopping centers and the modern architecture I began to like Exeter. The crowd was good, lively and when you see the Cathedral from the modern shopping streets, you do see the culmination of ancient and modern, medieval and neo in a breathtaking view.
The 501 must visit cities book had said that ‘Exeter is not a beautiful city, ??’ and I now realize why it is so. Initially I was disappointed and was wondering if the book had got it wrong. Now I realize that they did not. It just takes a while to grow on you. Then you begin to realize that it is an amalgamation of college and old.
There is supposed to be a castle but as far as I could see there was a gate and pretty much nothing else!
I would not recommend Exeter easily unless either College Crowds or Cathedrals are your scene. If so, Exeter is worth a visit if you get the time and are near there.
Now for the best part – I met a Spanish lady during the walking tour and we hit it off instantly. She was finding it tough to converse easily in English but she was doing an amazing effort. We talked all the while through the tour, and I learnt that she was from Lyon. 2010 looks to be a good time to go there and now I am pretty excited.
And this time around I did get her email address, so there!
Hmm…I wonder why I began to enjoy only after the Walking tour…hmm indeed.
These trips are good though, they introduce me to new people, new cultures – it is an experience. I leave you with these thoughts as I take the Cross Country to Bristol Temple Meads and then the Great Western trains to Cardiff.