A May 2007 trip
to York by Red Mezz
Quote: A day long visit to this city in Northern England, has made me appreciate my English neighbor and marvel at the structures it's created.
Whenever I first arrive in a new country, pretty much the first thing I do is start grilling the locals on all there is to see and do, what are the things to miss, and what are the things you should be ashamed of not seeing. When it came to my English neighbor, the place that has come up again and again is York. It’s a trip, not far from my doorstep that I have been trying to make the entire time I have lived in Britain, and after so much hype, it was sure to be somewhat of a let down. But to my utter and complete delight, the Saturday I found myself pulling into the York train station after warily watching clouds hover over the coastal ride down, was perfect weather, and York turned out to be one of my favourite places in Britain.
I realize I have mentioned in the past that I'm not keen on English cities - always followed by messages saying 'But have you been to Bath? Have you been to York?' And I admit, the answer was no. But after the weekend spent in this breathtaking little city, I must utterly retract my former position, and can not recommend it highly enough. As a photographer, the city has come recommended to me time and time again, and I arrived with the hopeful notion that I would just get a few good shots in of York Minster and then anything else good would be a bonus. As it turns out, it was a day full of bonuses, and after our little weekend jaunt down into England, I don't have a single, solitary complaint.
Being on the east coast of the country always seems to lend itself to good weather, so you have a fair shot at it in the summer time, which makes the whole experience that much nicer. Aside from Edinburgh I am hard pressed to think of a city that is more enjoyable to walk around, to browse, and to explore its little nooks and crannies. York is certainly a place all of its own, with an incredible amount of history encompassing the Romans, Anglo Saxons, and the Vikings. With the mind blowing architecture of York Minster, and its great crooked little city streets, I can't think of a place in England I've enjoyed more.
My trip to York took place on a weekend in May, and though the weather will always be precarious in Great Britain, aim for May - September for a trip here, as it's such a great place for walking around, and this is always best when you get nice weather. Aside from the fact that the photos you will get of the Minster will be all the better with a bit of sun.
Having said that, there is also plenty to do here if the weather is less than perfect. Go inside the Minster for a modest fee (or even just pop into the entrance for some great views and photos of the arches for free.) There is no limit to the amount of little shops and tea houses to pop into in The Shambles to get out of the rain. Bring some extra cash for buying things from these shops - I may have to plan a trip back around Christmas time so good and unique were all the local products offered.
If you're staying for more than a day and want to do all of the sights, it might be worth your while to pick up a 'York Pass' which gets you free entry into 29 of the top attractions, and even discounts from things like restaurants and car hire. (Check out the York visitor centre if you're interested in that.) There is an excellent selection of restaurants and cafes in York, so I do recommend you pick up a free York Mini guide when you arrive in the city to figure them all out before you begin walking. There is a great selection of both local and foreign cuisine available, so you will probably want to give it some thought while you're walking around and building up an appetite.
Other than that, just wander. This is a city for exploring. Every little corner seems to divulge some new niche of local wonders, and with camera in hand, the day slips by at an incredible pace. There are some amazing little shops in The Shambles, as well as a great local market selling everything from produce to leather jackets and sweets in Newgate.
Restaurant | "Earl Grey Teahouse"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 25, 2007
Earl Grey Tea Rooms
York, England YO1 7LZ
+44 1904 654353
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 27, 2007
Gert and Henry's
York, England YO1 8RT
+44 (1904) 621445
I got on a train to York with only one true intention in mind - to photograph York Minster. I'd seen friend’s photos of the building, and heard many people say what an incredible structure it was, and was eager to see for myself. Even so, I was a little bit wary that it might indeed turn out to be just like every other Gothic structure in Europe, and living in Great Britain for four years will certainly leave you accustomed to such sights. I left hopeful - but still unconvinced. When the train stopped and I left the station, eager to make my way to the Minster encase the rain should start up, it was the first thing that caught my eye. It stands out in the centre of this city, and is an easy compass to its centre from many different locations. I must start by saying that I've seen many incredible buildings in the time I've been travelling Europe. From ruins of Scotland and Southern England and great cathedrals and castles from Paris to Germany. But by the end of my day in York there was little doubt that York Minster had just taken over as my favourite building in the world. If you have any inclinations towards photography, then you must go and see it. Not only is it mind blowing to look at, but it is actually possible to get some extremely impressive photos both inside and outside. There is a great park and open to the side and front of the Minster, allowing a bit of space to actually compose a decent shot. But even if photos are low on your To Do list, this is a place definitely worth seeing. It literally left me breathless, and even after nearly an hour of shooting photos of all angles of it, I still made my way back to different views of the building to see it twice more during the day. It is well worth the acclaim. But also, there is a huge amount of history tied up in the building, and remains a strong sense of spirituality. The bells tolled just before we left the city, making the entire atmosphere lift around us. The crowds of people inside the cathedral sight seeing were mixed solidly with those there to worship - all blending happily together. You can light a candle if you wish, amidst the ancient stone that has seen so many centuries of worship and trials. The original Minster dates back to around 627, but has been rebuilt many times in light of all of the Dane, Saxon, and Norse invasions. This was, after all, the highlight of my stay in York.
It’s great if you’re on a budget, because there are endless shots inside and out to take or just to see. But its also only £5 to go in and have a proper look, £7 gets you into both the tower (a wonderful climb if you have time) and the undercroft.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 25, 2007
York, England YO1 7JA
+44 (190) 455 7216
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 8, 2007
York, England YO1 9RY
+44 1904 646940
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 3, 2007
York, England YO1 7LZ
Inverness, United Kingdom