In February, with plans to head back to the states by the end of March, I had about 5 weeks left to explore more of Canada (I was in Montreal), but I was really feeling the need to slow down before beginning the journey home. The project I worked on in Canada was over and I’d already adjusted to the cold, so I thought: why not finally make my way to the United Kingdom and go see friends? It’s just a short flight ‘over the pond.’
Most of my time on the road has been spent in hotels, hostels and B&Bs- but that wasn’t the plan for my visit to Leeds. One of my close friends Phil lives in the semi-small city in Northern England, in a flat about a ten minute walk from city center, and he welcomed me with open, excited arms. Phil told me to stay as long as I wanted. “Okay, Phil, I may stay a full month if I like it, honestly. You’re going to get sick of me,” I warned. “Oh shut up, just come! Excited to see you.”
Off to England I went, to live like a local in Leeds. I was kind of sick of being a tourist.
I landed in London and immediately got the train, taking no time to see any of the sites in the world famous city. All I cared about was getting to Leeds and hanging out with friends. Traveling solo can get lonely and the time you get to spend with truly close friends is coveted and invaluable.
I stayed up late, slept in and chilled out.
It took almost the entire first week to adjust to the time change. No matter how seasoned of a traveler I am, jet lag still gets me every time. I was kind of a hermit that whole first week, doing my morning ritual and reading all day with coffee or tea in hand (when in England, you have to drink extra tea, right?).
When I had finally adjusted and started exploring the city I found myself pleasantly surprised with all it had to offer. It helped, perhaps, that I came to Leeds with fairly low expectations of the city itself, because it’s less of a landmark and more of an afterthought to London, Manchester or Liverpool.
In the weeks leading up to coming to Leeds, I was often asked by people I’d meet and share my plans with, “Why Leeds of all places?! There’s not much there.” I’m happy to say “they” were wrong, in my opinion, and I’ve found plenty in this cute little city that is Leeds.
A few of my favorite highlights from my time in Leeds…
Yes, I said that. Leeds hadn’t seen a storm like that in about six years apparently, and it was kind of funny to watch everyone react to the seldom seen snow. After my time in Montreal, I feel conditioned to such conditions, and found a lot of beauty watching the snowfall with tea in hand.
Sunsets on the Canal
Street Musicians in City Center
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A national museum which displays the National Collection of Arms and Armour (with fun photo ops). The museum, like most in the city, was free to enter, and we were some of the few adults in the building as most attendees were children on school field trips- but hey, we fit right in and learned a bit about the history of weaponry.
One of the most beautiful shopping centers I’ve ever seen- and I’m a former shopoholic, so I’ve seen quite a few. The center is a £165 Million project development, and it shows. It’s full of upscale boutiques that tempted me to throw my budget out the window and shop until I dropped.
One of the oldest abbeys in England, and absolutely breathtaking. It immediately felt like I was hours outside of any city and inside a historical vortex. Hard to believe this place has been standing since 1152.
I found tons of gems in this city and immediately outside of it.
I used Leeds as a jumping point for a road trip through Northern England and a trip to Scotland is only three hours away by train. (More on both of those experiences coming to the blog and YouTube soon.)
It was nice to be able to leave my massive suitcase (aka my house) at the flat, pack a small bag and just go. My month here truly flew by.
It’s been rejuvenating to have a little sanctuary in Leeds, to slow down, and hang out with my English friends and feel at home somewhere new. While I’ve been physically freezing (anyone hear about Storm a Emma?) my heart has been full and warm.
Big thanks to Phil for hosting me and showing me around his city; and another thanks to the Leeds Tourism Board for helping with my itinerary.
WATCH the “Living like a Local” episode on Youtube here.
Book your trip to Leeds using my partner link here.