Casanova – an Italian in Cardiff

20140818_194835

Wine of the day is from Puglia

We only did have one dinner time in Cardiff so we wanted to enjoy a nice dinner. In such days we almost always trust to Tripadvisor and choose a restarant in the first 10% of that city’s restaurants. There have been times that this disappointed us, however, Casanova for sure was not one of them.

Un exegerated decoration

Un exegerated decoration

We made our reservation, took a taxi and went to the restaurant. It is a very small family run place, where very few tables are set, some very simple pictures on the walls, a warm welcome and a warm atmosphere. But there isn’t much thing that reminds you of Italy.

Simple and tasty plates

Simple and tasty plates

Menu is just like the decoration, simple, all the prices are the same and have a wide range of wine list. Our choice was from Puglia, Di San Marzone, a wine of a small family enterprise.

Wine and dine was just right, however, the place needs some improvement.

 

Lovely day out in Cardiff

20140818_164257

Cardiff Arcades

Our second stop at our Great Britain trip after Leicester was Cardiff. During our life in Leicester about 20 years ago, we have been to lots of lots of places all around Britain, but Wales was not one of those. So it was always in my mind to visit Wales too.

If you asked me what I kept in my mind about Cardiff, arcades of Cardiff would probably be in the first place to remember. A signature of Cardiff, where local, independent small shops and little cafes get along perfectly well in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Arcades of Cardiff.

20140818_173307

Cardiff Arcades

However of course there were lots of more to see and do with our son. With our science addict son, science museums are always a must see for us. So of course Techniquest has been our first stop of Hop on Hop off bus. Unlike many other science museums like San Francisco, Warsaw, Munich or Tokyo, this one is rather a small one, just big enough to enjoy some science and leave in about an hour so that you do not spend the half of the day visiting a museum.

20140818_155710

Techniquest

20140818_113815

Techniquest

Techniquest

Techniquest

On a sunny Cardiff day, after a nice hour at Techniquest, you can enjoy a small walk to the Mermaid Quay where the smell of the sea adds joy to your lunch.

20140818_150756

Mermaid Quay

A Britain visit would not be complete without a visit to Gourmet Burger Kitchen. And the one at Mermaid Quay looked just right with open air area with the view of boats and people.

20140818_132805

GBK Menu

20140818_133411

Our father is ordering our long list of orders

20140818_135515

And a happy end

Of course the above picture is not what our son ate. As you may have guessed he finished the hamburger, before I could even take a picture. And a Pinor Noir excorted to our people watch activity.

20140819_102412

Cardiff story museum

20140819_102653

Cardiff Story Museum

From the Mermaid Quay, we take our Hop and Hop off bus back to city center to visit the Arcades and streets of Cardiff. Indoor market and Cardiff Story Museum are some landmarks to visit.

20140819_105122

Indoor market of Cardiff

20140819_105237

Flowers at Cardiff indoor market

20140819_105548

And a must eat in Cardiff

The Welsh Cakes taste as good as they look and they perfectly match the joy of exploring the streets and arcades of Cardiff.

Next: Some restaurants we tried in Cardiff

Market Harborough – a day out from Leicester

Market Harborough streets

Market Harborough streets

Leicester – as I have written before, normally is not a tourism destination. A long Saturday was more than enough to go around the city, tell our son about our University days there and visit the “good old times” points of interest. So for our second day in Leicester, we needed to find something interesting around the city. Moreover, you know in UK, they drive from the wrong side, so we did not have a rental car to go around, which meant we needed somewhere to go by bus. Thanks to the lovely ladies at “visitleicester” office, they recommended us to go to Market Harborough – a historic small cute village, with the nice independent shops and local restaurants open on Sundays.

Market Harborough

Market Harborough

Just a few steps from our hotel in Leicester, in front of Leicester Train Station, we took the bus to Market Harborough and it took less that 1 hour to get there.

We did have a nice walk in town with many stops at some shops, especially the stationary and we did have a nice meal at Wildwood Restaurant (www.wildwoodrestaurants.co.uk) The restaurant is very child and baby friendly. I especially loved the cute stickers of the activity book they have given.

Our son's classic

Our son’s classic

My classic is sea food

My classic is sea food

With some pasta

With some pasta

And wine of the day

And wine of the day

On the way back from Market Harborough, we got off the bus at Victoria Park. This park, is a very large and very empty green grass area in Leicester and in our “Good old days” years, it used to be a center of many activities, with many British families coming here to relax for Sundays. However, in 16 years we saw that the profile of Victoria Park fans have changed a lot with an Arabic approach to the environment. We were surprised to see the scene. The toilets and all the amenities were closed indicating “bad use of premises”. Surely, not a nice park to come any more. But the real shock would come a week after, when we went to Hyde park in London, for Sunday, totally occupied by Arabic communities. Well, more to tell about it in the coming weeks.

Le Bistrot Pierre in Leicester

Pierre

Pierre

After a long day of visiting our “old times” places and shoving our son our memories, we needed a nice wine and dine restaurant to relax, write my memories and relax again. While walking around the streets of Leicester lazily, we passed by this restaurant of Pierre Le Bistro and thought of “maybe we can go for dinner”. Even though we lived in Leicester for a year, our most luxury restaurant to go was Pizza Hut-you know student days. So we did not have much idea about any wine and dine points here.

Wine of the day

Wine of the day, Pinot Noir from Australia

Well, we did not make any reservation and decided to give it a try at 19:00 pm. Sure it would be nice if we did make a reservation, because we just could have a table to sit for only 1 hour.

The good thing is, the staff were very friendly and the food were delicious. There was a children’s menu, plus if you asked for a half portion of any meal, it was possible to do so. This was a bonus I think, because I always tend to order lot’s of varieties and have many leftover.

Soup

Soup

Chef's salad

Chef’s salad

Sea bass was a good choice

Sea bass was a good choice

However, it did not take long for our 1 hour to end soon, so we had to drink our nice wine in fast food format. It wasn’t even dark yet when we were back on the streets of Leicester.

Welcoming atmosphere

Welcoming atmosphere

Rich menu

Rich menu

Until we’ve been to Cardiff a few days later, we did not know that Le Bistrot Pierre was a chain restaurant in UK. So you can try this place in about 15 locations throughout the country.

 

Waiting our train at St. Pancras

People watch activity at St. Pancras

People watch activity at St. Pancras

In the summer of 2014, we did a 10 days UK tour together with our son. Yes, UK is not one of our favorite destinations, because they drive from the wrong side, and we can not rent a car and drive wherever we like. However;

1. We wanted to show our son where we studied in Leicester.

2. We wanted to visit Wales, the only part of the country we haven’t seen during our one year stay in UK.

3. We wanted to stay in London, to enjoy wine and dine.

So that’s how we started our UK adventure with many train journeys, starting from St. Pancras.

St. Pancras is a very nice train station, with lovely cafes and some nice shops, that may cause you to miss your train, if you are a shopaholic. So we enjoyed a nice French cafe & winebar “Des Vins”, with a nice decoration of brown brick walls full of photographs of Paris, and huge floor to ceiling windows, which makes it a lovely spot for our favorite “People Watch Activity”.

My Salad

My Salad

Nice and calm decoration, with comfortable sofas

Nice and calm decoration, with comfortable sofas

Waiting for our train to arrive

Waiting for our train to arrive

 

Following Richard, in the land of foxes

Good old days of De Montfort

Good old days of De Montfort

Today let me tell you a destination that is very out of touristic scope, unless you are a fan of Richard the 3rd, or Foxes – Leicester City Football Club.

Leicester is getting ready to the carribean festival

Leicester is getting ready to the Caribbean festival

More than 15 years ago, together with my husband we went to this Midland City of UK to do our master’s degree at De Montfort University. Yes you are right, UK is not one of our favorite destination to travel, because they drive from the wrong side, however, we were keen on to show our son where we lived and  studied, and I admit that, even though we can’t drive there, we love to visit UK, once in a blue moon.

Open market we used to shop every week.

Open market we used to shop every week.

Our first morning started with an exceptionally sunny Saturday morning in Leicester. Wow, no need to carry an umbrella or a rain coat.  So our day started in McDonald’s. not because we are a fan of it, but because it was the very same McDonald’s we used to love to eat Egg Mac Muffin, during our student days here. Than we did a nice walking tour around the streets of Leicester. Of course did not forget to stop at Open Market, where we used to do our weekly shopping of fresh fruits and vegetables. 15 years later it was lovely to hear the “ENGLISH STRAWBERRIES!” shouting still with a very English accent.

Of course not everything was the same as 15 years ago. In the last decade, Leicester found out that King Richard the 3rd died at a battle close to Leicester, brought to the city and buried here. The place where he was buried found out in 2012. Than came the marketing experts to the scene, and created a “Richard the 3rd adventure” to attract tourists here. A King Richard III, visitor center created with middle age stories.

King Richard III visitor center

Exploring King Richard III visitor center

So that’s how we ended up to attend a Richard the 3rd guided walking trail, starting in front of the Cathedral. Unsurprisingly, we were the only three people attending to the tour. So we enjoyed private walking tour with our Blue Badged tour guide Virginia.

The walking tour started in the Leicester Cathedral, where Richard the 3rd now rests. Then to a travelodge building, where there used to be a building that Richard the 3rd stayed for his last night.

 

Following Richard the 3rd

Following Richard the 3rd

Than we walked towards the river, where Richard the 3rd passed to go for his final battle, and finally arrived to the very same building that we did all our classes during our study here. It was a surprise to learn that, after Richard the 3rd died, he was brought to a tiny church here, to show people that he was certainly dead. Our Hawthorn Building of De Montfort University was build on this church, however a tiny wall of the church is still kept inside.

Looking inside of our building, unfortunately closed on weekends

Looking inside of our building, unfortunately closed on weekends

 

It was nearly the end of trail, so we thanked Virginia here, and went around the university. Unfortunately, many buildings were closed for the weekend, however, the Kimberlin Library was open and we went all around the inside. 15 years ago this building was brand new, with everything shiny. Of course many shelves and desks were really old now, but the smell was all the same.

Finally, we went around our home sweet home, just across the Kimberlin Library. We waved goodbye to our memories, probably the last time in our lives.

The walking route toward the city center totally changed. The tiny shopping mall of “Shires” where we loved to eat cake, is now Highcross, much larger than it used to be and more crowded. So we enjoyed our last hours of afternoon, looking at the shops and telling stories to our son about our days around here.

One final remark before finishing. Until this year many people outside UK probably did not ever heard about Leicester. Surprisingly this year Leicester Foxes are the leader at the premier league of England, followed by Tottenham, 7 pts below, as of today. We proudly follow the games and wish good luck to them  for the coming matches.