I had already planned to spend my summer in a European city but for some reasons, I couldn’t go. Plus I wasn’t about to pay inflated fees during the summer when I can always go some other time. So, I decided to create a summer schedule of sorts. I picked a few cities that I would be exploring. One of them was Stoke-on-Trent.
If you have been reading my previous travel posts, you would see that I’m very spontaneous about my choices of city breaks/day trips. I don’t think too much about them or attach unnecessary importance to them. Once I check my Google Trips app and I see a handful of tourist attractions, I’m good. Stoke-on-Trent was one of those cities that drew me mostly based on curiosity. I was curious about the North’s Pottery and Ceramics capital. But most of all, I was excited to experience something new.
Getting To Stoke-on-Trent
A few weeks before, I booked a return train ticket to Stoke-on-Trent on the Trainline app for about £8. I had already checked my regular coach service, National Express and I noticed that there wasn’t a direct coach to Stoke-on-Trent so I opted for a rail trip. Funny enough, when I was coming back to the Stoke train station via the Stoke Bus Station, I saw a National Express section. This meant that they actually pass through Stoke-on-Trent. Oh well! I wasn’t so upset because the coach and train tickets were just about the same. So I got the Manchester Picadilly Station about 30 minutes before and lounged a while until it was time to take off. As always, the train was punctual and in about 55 minutes, I arrived at the Stoke-on-Trent Train Station. The journey was quite pleasant. There was enough room to move around but I didn’t enjoy the fact that there was no Wi-Fi and USB port. Thankfully, it was a short trip so I immensed myself with Beyoncé’s The Gift album.
9 Things To Do In Stoke-on-Trent
Typically when I arrive at a new city via the National Express coach, we disembark at the city’s Bus Station which is usually located in the middle of the City Centre. But since it was my first time entering a new city via rail, I didn’t think it would be any different. But alas, it was! Stoke Train Station is located outside the city centre so against my usual tradition of walking around and taking pictures, I had to take a bus.
The first bus I took was a wrong one. I don’t know how exactly it happened. I guess it was a combination of panic and desperation. From the train station, there was something unwelcoming about the city. So I needed to get a bus to the city centre as fast as possible where I would find a semblance of positive vibes. After about an hour going around Hanley, one of the towns in the city, I finally found my way to the City Centre.
My first destination was the Potteries Museum and Gallery. It is one of the four local museums and the only one I was able to visit before the general 5pm closing hours. As the name implies, the Potteries houses some of the finest ceramics and art collections.
I had such a good time moving from the Art Gallery to the Design Gallery learning about the art of ceramics and admiring all the iconic ceramic pieces. I was super time conscious because I wanted to touch as many places as possible. So I spent about 30 minutes there. I left with a fridge magnet which I have decided to start collecting as souvenirs from my trips.
Next was the Airspace Gallery which was right across the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. I didn’t go in though because it didn’t look big enough to house that many interesting things so I just passed by. Yes! Sue me!
Then I took a walk down the Picadilly avenue down to Intu Potteries. At different points, I consulted with Maps for directions because I didn’t have mobile data.
I found two cute boys to take pictures of me and I must say, they nailed it.
Along the way, I saw the Regent Theatre. I recently discovered that it is the norm to see one or two theatres in any city.
Imagine my shock when I saw Intu Potteries which is a massive shopping centre like the one in Manchester; Intu Trafford Centre. The only thing that I kept thinking about was, ‘who owns this franchise?’ Of course, I didn’t stop by because I didn’t come to shop. I went around and took as many pictures as possible.
Then I walked back to Tesco to grab some snacks and passed by the Mitchell Memorial Arts Centre. Can I just mention how artsy they are in this city? If you’re in the Arts industry, you need to take a trip to Stoke-on-Trent.
After which I started checked the time and it was about two hours to my departure so I looked around for some last-minute sightseeing. I found a gorgeous office space called Smithfield and I just kept staring at the architecture. I almost wish I could rent an office space for a day.
On my way back to the Stoke Train Station via the Stoke Bus Station, I came across the Victoria Hall which is another concert hall similar to the First Direct Arena in Leeds and Manchester Arena. Of course, I passed by because of the time constraints. But if I had known how small the city actually was, I would have checked it out. My biggest fear when going on any kind of trip is missing my coach, train or flight. I’d rather come back for a second trip than miss it.
My biggest takeaway from this trip is that I need to leave home earlier especially on my day trips. I keep complaining about the closing times of all the indoor tourist attractions but if I got there earlier I would have time to maximize my day trip. So, for my next trip to Blackpool and/or Birmingham, I will ensure that I leave home early enough so I can visit more places and have more things to write about. I hope you enjoy this post though. No matter how little time you have, you can see a lot in a short time.