You know I love to get out and about on my blog, so when National Express got in touch to ask if I'd like to collaborate, I replied in the affirmative super-quick!
I've taken many a coach trip in the past and was excited to test out the newly pimped-up vehicles on a day out to Leeds.
I was travelling from Liverpool and the coach station was conveniently located at the bus station in Liverpool One. Upon boarding, I was very impressed with the extreme makeover touches, including leather seats, air conditioning and the addition of power sockets. National Express coaches now also offer free entertainment via the VUER app, which has a range of films, TV and magazines for your enjoyment. There's also a toilet, should you get caught short on the motorway!
The journey from Liverpool to Leeds took 2 hours 30 minutes, as we called in at Manchester to pick up extra passengers on the way. Plenty of time to relax, check out the VUER app and plan the itinerary for when I arrived.
If you have never been to Leeds before, then you need to have a word with yourself. It's an exciting, vibrant and beautiful city, fair burgeoning with architectural gems. It's also a shopper's paradise!
The coach dropped us off right next to the outdoor section of Leeds City Market. This housed a mix of new and second-hand clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories.
Not to mention essential kitchenware items to carve your fruit and vegetables into wild and whimsical shapes!
Are you even a successful adult if you don’t own one of these exciting choppers?
Following on from this was the indoor Kirkgate Market, the largest covered market in Europe, which was something rather special indeed.
Inside was an ornate and opulent Victorian style market with 800 stalls selling fruit, flowers, meat and vegetables. It was a real treat to stroll around and admire the beautiful glass ceiling and the riot of colourful blooms for sale.
Looking at all the food was making my stomach growl like a predatory animal, so my next stop was lunch!
Leeds has a veritable myriad of restaurants, cafes and eateries and I opted for a trip to Byron Burgers for a quick refuel. If you're gluten-free like moi, you can relax knowing they are on top of their game in understanding Coeliac Life. Nothing is more reassuring than a flag in your dinner to confirm its safe, right?
Once my hunger was satiated with burger and chips, I was ready to continue my perambulations around the city.
Leeds boasts several majestic shopping emporiums and the County Arcade is the absolute definition of refined and elegant design.
Designed by theatre architect, Frank Matcham, the County Arcade is a resplendent display of glazed barrel roofing, mosaics and faience. If you're after a bit of posh shopping in luxurious surroundings, or just want to copy Kylie and 'Step Back in Time', it would be most advisable to hit this place up.
If only I could play Step Back in Time on the piano, then my next caption would be perfection. But if any of you can play it, may I suggest that a quick tinkle on the ivories of this adorable white baby grand is the perfect way to grab a rest and impress the people of Leeds?
County Arcade is just one of a number of incredible malls. If contemporary chic is your bag, you really must check out the Victoria Gate arcade.
I felt as though I'd stumbled into a Turner Prize winning art installation, rather than a shopping centre. I was blown away by the amazing diamond shaped latticework ceiling which flooded the interior with natural light. Not to mention the extravagant gold drop lighting situation. I pondered whether I could purchase anything similar in IKEA. The shopping is secondary, it was enough for me to wander around gawping at the design magnificence.
From here, I pootled over to the Corn Exchange, another of Leeds' iconic Victorian buildings which sports an array of independent boutiques, salons and cafes.
My first thought was that the front door neon light game was STRONG. But then it just got better and better.
I immediately fell in love with the colourful, funky interior and could have spent hours here or even moved in. Would you think I was weird if I came on holiday to Leeds?
Another plus-point about this fine city is that they have fun goings-on in the street. A road full of see-saws seems like such a crackers idea until you see it in action. What an inspirational idea for the kids! If there'd been a vacant see-saw, there's a high chance I would have got on one myself.
I was also most intrigued by the scene below. Either the NHS cuts have hit Leeds hard, or they have a most creative approach to street theatre. Side-note; should crocheted throws be a mainstay in patient care? I feel they should, the colours alone would have a huge effect on boosting hospital morale.
If shopping and sick people in the street are not your thing, may I be so bold as to suggest checking out some cultural vibes.
It's a little known fact about me that I love the company of historic buildings and I very much enjoyed spending some time with Leeds City Museum and Civic Hall. There's nothing like a beautiful mid-Victorian Museum facade to get me all giddy. This is only usurped when I turn around to find an incredible Classical/Art Deco building next door. Leeds is fair bursting with cultural gems, but as I was on a whistle-stop tour, I reserved going inside for next time.
The clock was on and it was time to head back to the coach station and rest my weary self on the journey back to Liverpool.