Today, it was time to explore the metropolis of Nottingham. The sun was already waiting for me as I de-trained and strolled through town, making straight for Nottingham Castle. It’s called a “castle” when it should actually be called “Nottingham Fairly Large House on the Hill”, but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue as well. I looked around at the entrance gate and decided to go for it, knowing full well that I might be staggeringly underwhelmed by the sheer non-castleness of it all. At least I got that right, as the grounds of the “castle” were undergoing a massive transformation after a recent festival and most of the area was in fact fenced off. I’m sure that would have pissed Robin Hood off if he was here with me.
I walked up the steps and went into the building. I’m not a huge fan of museums, and this one, like many others failed to get me going. It was full of average-looking pots, knick-knacks and other useless stuff (one of my favourite words in German is Schnickschnack, and it means the same thing). OK, maybe some of the objects would have yielded a bit more interest upon closer inspection, but I just wasn’t in the mood today. Luckily for me, there was a fantastic art exhibition upstairs, which made up for the pots.
Once I was finished with the interior of Nottingham Castle, a process which had taken a full twenty minutes, I was back out of the gate and to the right, to see the famous statue of The Man himself. No one really knows the precise story of the legend of Robin Hood, nor if the stories and songs were based on a real person or a fantasy. Either way, the story of the heroic archer is just a bloody good yarn, whichever version you go with, and the statue is a very powerful depiction of a simple man who could easily shoot you in the eye from 100 yards, so don’t mess with him. And it would probably be a bad idea to be carrying cash when you ran into him.
I walked on to what surely must be the best thing about Nottingham, the local pub. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is nestled snuggly to side of the sandstone, a small wooden building attached to the network of caves under the main castle hill. Apparently, the caves beyond were used as brewing chambers, but I’m betting the lord upstairs had an easy access tunnel made so he could go down and have a cheeky one whenever he pleased. It was less a pub and more of a fantastic labyrinth of small drinking chambers and windy staircases the likes of which I had never seen before. It’s tradition for me to bang my head into all of the low beams when I go into an old medieval structure like this, but today I forwent the usual and explored uninjured. Nor did I drink large quantities of beer, another tradition of mine, some fresh coffee and wifi was all I needed for a relaxing break in this magnificent place.
After I had a chance to chill for a while, I walked back into town and explored the streets a little bit more. I got the impression that Nottingham was simply a fine place to be and wondered what else I could do with my time before moving on. After a quick bit of research it became clear that the third most impressive cultural attraction in town, after the castle and the pub, was Hooters. Unlike the Jerusalem, which was one of the nicest pubs I’d ever been to, my research suggested that this place was tacky and not worth a visit, so I didn’t.