We could see our hotel, the Premier Inn, from the door of the railroad station. During our week here, this location encouraged us to take several day excursions. It is a newish hotel in a newish England chain, designed primarily for business travel and nicely satisfying our needs (for the first Norwich public market time, we elected to have a morning paper delivered which was a nice treat).
We arrived in early afternoon but they had our room ready, so after dropping our luggage we set off to explore, climbing a long hill to the Castle shopping mall, and then up and down some more past a major reconstruction of the historic graveyard in the middle of the city, and on to Castle Meadow and the Tourist Information Board who were very friendly and gave us lots of material on Norwich and the Broads (meaning portions of rivers wide enough for sailboats).
The nearby church of St. Peter Mancroft was an object of our genealogical interest, so we made a quick visit. It is a beautiful, rather spare building compared with the cathedrals we've been seeing. We were especially taken with the ceiling and its contrast to the walls.
On our way back to the hotel we walked through the permanent outdoor market with its hodge podge of stalls, selling everything from American jeans to English cheeses, which we read in the paper are a fast growing export product for England. The portion we bought was a creamy sheep cheese The cheese store which gave us delicious snacks for a couple of days. We also had to stop at Waterstone's for more books. We were reading about the English Reformation and English politics, the latter spurred by the Labour Party Convention which was concluding and generously covered on television.
Wednesday morning we once again left our laundry with a friendly attendant, and then boarded a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus for a tour of the city. We learned that Norwich was once larger than London, that the Sopwith Camel was made in Norwich, that the Canaries are the local football team, that Norwich is the headquarters of Coleman's Mustard, that the stone for Norwich Castle was imported from Normandy and floated up the river on barges, that Norwich has the longest city wall still standing, that the cathedral's spire is second-highest (after Salisbury) and that Kett's rebellious peasants protested the enclosure laws in 1549 upon another high hill on the other side of the river, with the wonderful English name of Mousehold Heath. So the bus tour was a great success, and we continued round until the stop at Norwich Castle.
This is really a castle, ordered built by William the Conqueror, and now a local museum geared for students with plenty of hands-on exhibits but Royal Arcade interesting to adults as well. We spent a fair amount of time learning about Queen Boudica and her revolt against the Romans. There are also exhibits of Roman, Celtic and Saxon artifacts, plus the required knights-and-chivalry in the castle keep. We left through the Regimental Museum, which is also very well done.
We explored the Victorian-era Royal Arcade and found the Coleman Mustard Shop and Museum nearby. It is more shop than museum, with many varieties of mustard for sale in the trademark yellow packaging. We found the chocolate bar with mustard to be quite yummy. Pursuing the candy idea, we visited a confectioner's shop and discussed "English toffee" with English people who had no idea what we were talking about. We bought some English toffee (without the quotes) which we would call taffy.
There was much more to see in Norwich, but on subsequent days we were happily seduced by the proximity of the railroad station to explore the Norfolk countryside.