My trip to Leeds, UK was a revelation. I actually went last winter but did not get a chance to post it until now!
In contrast to most trips, for this one I did not do much planning. I got to Leeds late on a Friday evening, in the rain, shattered from a week of work. I spent the whole evening in the hotel room, watching tv, eating snacks and chilling! The following morning, with leaflets from the hotel reception, a short guide to Leeds from the Hostelworld website and Google Maps I drew this little outline of the city centre by hand – it’s really poorly done and absolutely not to scale – but I think it made my trip that little bit more ‘unique’.
I marked a couple of key sights on it and then I started walking! For a small city like Leeds, wandering around on your own two feet is often the best way to explore and discover hidden gems. Here are some of the cool places I came across:
There was some awesome public art in Brewery Wharf, a chic residential area by the river.
There were loads of quaint covered arcades in the city centre. These are full of fantastic independent shops and cafés as well as high end designer boutiques.
The tranquil serenity of the River Aire and the Calls on a misty morning was inspiring.
I wish I’d seen “Go throw yourself into the sea” but this sign is good enough for me – got a laugh out of me on a dull afternoon!
I’m sorry to say I was not impressed by the Henry Moore Institute – small with disinterested staff and I’m no fan of Dennis Oppenheimer…but maybe you’ll enjoy it more than me! Leeds Art Museum is better, but not much. However, there is also a bizarre yet charming guide to owl architecture in the city. I didn’t find all of them but here is one I did stumble across:
Here’s the map if you want to try to find them yourself!
Don’t miss the Corn Exchange – a renovated Victorian grain market building full of tiny independent shops selling everything from jewellery and eastern-inspired homewares to cameras. When I visited, Judy’s Vintage Fair was on, giving the space even more atmosphere. And there are always events like this or like live music or a vintage record sale.
And the light! Even the tiniest bit of sun brightens this huge room of glass architecture…definitely worth spending a morning or afternoon browsing the shops or sipping on a hot drink in one of the cafés.