Thursday 24th May-Friday 25th May.
It was a good start to our holiday as we met Matthew and Susan Scarf at at the airport before our flight. The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful though and we arrived into London on the Friday at about 5 AM. We picked up the car and had plenty of time to kill because check-in for our apartment wasn’t until 3 pm. So we headed down to Dover and visited Dover Castle which was fairly impressive as far as Castles go. We also toured the war time tunnels which were also very impressive; these were originally built to defend against Napoleon but were more famously used as the Mission Control centre in the evacuation of Dunkirk. The whole visit took a couple of hours and we then headed back to the car for our trip to the apartment in Ramsgate. This journey only took about 30 minutes and we made it to Ramsgate by around 3 pm where we dropped our bags before heading down to the town centre to find somewhere to have a late but light lunch. After wandering around for a while we settled on a pub called The Goose.
- Link to our flat in Ramsgate: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/16646401
Ramsgate is a pretty seaside town located on the east coast of the UK with the famous white limestone, of ‘The White cliffs of Dover’ variety, lining the coastline. Ramsgate had humble fishing village origins and much of that charm remains today. The older centre of the town is pedestrian access only and filled with its share of pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as hair salons. The latter in surprising numbers. Friday is ‘Market Day’ so there were stalls lining a few of these streets selling an uninspiring array of cheap clothing along with some fresh food stalls. We were struck by how the seeming great potential for this seaside location, just two hours from London, has not been harnessed. The streets were rather sparsely populated and the few around seemed to be humble working class folk. Where were all the tourists, Gen Xs and Ys and millennials that should be crammed into the cafes, pubs and bars?
We left The Goose and headed back to the apartment to settle in, shower and change before eventually heading back out for an early dinner. First stop of the evening was at a small pub, called The Ravensgate Arms, that offered craft beer and wine but not much else. Mark sampled two craft beers and I had a nice Argentinian white wine. We’d found that a few of the restaurants were already booked out for dinner, given the long weekend and high season status this conferred, and so we ended up choosing a British restaurant called The Empire Room. It came highly reviewed but was a rather funny establishment located below street level, in the basement of a row of terraces, and on the elevated southern end of town. It had a distinctly Faulty Towers feel to it in both setting and staff but the meals were delicious. Exhaustion set in shortly after dinner as it had been a long day for us, we’d been on the go since about midnight UK time, and so we headed home after dinner for an early night.
Saturday 26 May.
It was wet and miserable when we woke but the rain cleared by about 8 am allowing us to get out and about for a morning walk. We headed down along the coastal Viking Trail path that runs along the beach and found a lovely collection of quirky cafes and restaurants lining the path around the harbour. Morning coffee was taken at The Royal Victoria Pavilion which, unlike the Pavilion at Bondi, is located right on the beach. The Royal Victoria Pavilion is a vast establishment offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and, more importantly, craft beers. This place was ear marked for another visit to test the beers. There was quite a crowd enjoying breakfast and the seaside view and Mark’s coffee, although not of barista variety, was nice enough.
We headed home for breakfast and Mark then went out for a short ride to explore the Viking Trail whilst the sun was shining. The forecast for the next few days was for rain so we were hoping this won’t be his only ride. On his return we headed back down to the centre of town for a quick bite to eat and to purchase some supplies. Mark filled me on his bike travels and noted that all the trendy folk are just a few kilometers up the road; at Broadstairs. He noted there was a much more up-market vibe to this particular Village and so we ear-marked that for a further visit. After lunch we headed back to the apartment to watch the rest of the Swans before our dinner booking at a Greek restaurant along the waterfront.
Some craft beer before dinner was on the menu for Mark and so we headed down to The Royal Victoria Pavilion and this was pumping when we got down there at 5.30 pm. Lots of families and groups of friends filled most of the tables inside and out on the beachfront and were enjoying all that was on offer. It was a great atmosphere and made Mark and I wonder why something like this could not be made out of the Bondi Pavilion. We only stayed for one drink as our dinner booking was for 6.30 pm but Mark still managed to fine one more pub, The Oak, for another beer before we finally made to the The Delphi Greek restaurant. We scored a window seat overlooking the harbour and, whilst the venue was fairly well reviewed, it paled to the standard of Greek fare from home. The sun was still in pretty full swing for our walk home but it was another early night given my 4.30 am start to the day.
We’ve only had two days at Ramsgate but we are really enjoying the laid-back vibe. It is a bit different to what we had been expecting. Coming from a seaside location near a major city we’d have thought a similar scene might have been on offer here. It reminds me more though of what Bondi was like when I was a child and the Sunday activity was for the family to pile in the car and visit the beach. The cafes, bars and restaurants here are filled more with families and older folk, much how I remember the shopfront scene of the Bondi of my youth. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that this is bad at all, it’s just that it is very different from the buzz of contemporary Bondi where every bar, cafe and restaurant is always over flowing with predominantly Gen X, Y and millennials. Given the great beach-side location and being just two hours from London, I can only imagine Ramsgate’s time will come!