The first thing we did when we arrived to our mini weekend break in St Albans was to find a place for lunch - naturally! I had made a little list of places that sounded promising (once a planner, always a planner!) and in the end we chose the Beech House because it had a big, varied menu and the decor looked really cool.
I opted for the vegan pizza option, the Marinara, with added chillies for an extra kick. I've raved on about my love for marinara pizzas before and I just think that they're a great option for a vegan because you can always ask the chef to add extra toppings to it if you so wish. Personally I don't like it when there's too much going on in my pizza because if the tomato sauce is of good quality, there's not much you really need - too many things will just drown out the lovely flavour of the pizza anyway!
Sarah went with the sweet potato & feta salad which got rave reviews from her and looked extremely yummy to my eyes too. They had a lot of slightly different and more exciting salads than your average restaurant and, had I not spotted the Marinara, I was definitely going to go for the halloumi Caesar salad - yum!
VISIT THE CATHEDRAL
The St Albans Cathedral is beautiful. We were lucky enough to get sunshine and blue skies on the first day of our visit and it just made the experience of seeing the cathedral even more special. It was built in 11th century and the whole time I was there I couldn't stop thinking about how long it must have taken to build it! How did they get all those intricate paintings on the ceiling without the help of any technology? So impressive.
You can go inside the cathedral for free and I would definitely recommend doing so. There's lots of different corridors and spaces to see and those paintings I mentioned earlier are very, very beautiful too. If you're not much of interiors person, a walk on the cathedral grounds is a really great experience too!
GO TO THE (CHRISTMAS) MARKET
If you're going to St Albans before the year is over, definitely go visit the lovely Christmas market that's right next to the cathedral. There's food and drink (I finally had the first mulled cider of the year!), lots of arts and crafts stalls perfect for presents or Christmas decorations and finally, entertainment and music for both kids and adults to enjoy. Alternatively, if you're not a Christmas person or if you're visiting at another time of the year, there's also a general street market every Wednesday and Saturday on St Peter's Street. It has over 160 stalls so you're pretty much set for the afternoon!
HAVE DINNER IN NUMBER 23
This one wasn't actually from my pre-written list but a completely accidental (but very welcome!) find through none other Apple maps - my savior whenever I'm in need of something good to eat close by! Number 23 is, in their own words, a British tapas restaurant serving little dishes to everyone from a meat eater to a vegetarian - there's so many options to choose from!
As a place it's as cosy as can be with its low lighting, candles and the perfect background music. We kicked the evening off with the house red and continued with a selection of fresh breads served with oil and balsamic - the perfect combination! From the tapas list I chose the halloumi salad (my favourite!), a mozzarella veggie stack and a portion of triple cooked chips (so, so heavenly crispy!).
I think I can safely say that everything we both tried was a success and the whole restaurant experience from beginning to end was very pleasant. I'll definitely return if I go back to St Albans - there's a lot of dishes I'd still like to try out!
TAKE A WALK IN THE PARK
The Verulamium park next to the Cathedral is a perfect place for a Sunday stroll and a way to work out the appetite for that lovely, big Sunday lunch you should definitely be having when on a weekend trip..! The park is named after the ancient Roman city on which it stands and has a lovely lake and a river flowing through it which makes it even more idyllic.
If you still feel like walking and exploring a bit more, I would recommend making your way through the park (starting from the Cathedral) and visiting the ruins of an ancient Roman theatre next to Bluehouse Hill. There's an entrance fee of £2.50 and that gives you access to the little path that goes through the ruins and the information boards showing you how the theatre used to look like in its glory days. Definitely well worth the money if you're into your history even a little bit.
St Albans, I think I fell in love with you a little bit!