Written by Joy S on 04 Oct, 2011
* Get a York Pass, this allows you entry into different attractions for a reduced rate and makes it better value for money. You will make substantial savings if you plan to visit a range of different places.* Shopping in York is such a…Read More
* Get a York Pass, this allows you entry into different attractions for a reduced rate and makes it better value for money. You will make substantial savings if you plan to visit a range of different places.* Shopping in York is such a great experience. There is every kind of shop you could want - from antique and book dealers in Micklegate, high street shops and famous names in the Coppergate Centre, speciality shops and designer fashion in Swinegate and in the Stonegate Market they have great fresh produce. There are lots of unique shops and boutiques, but equally plenty of touristy shops selling souvenirs. The Shambles has lots of shops selling exactly this type of merchandise. The shops everywhere are beautiful with lovely old fashioned wooden shop fronts. The buildings have not changed much since they were first built.* York, despite being very historical, is also extremely cosmopolitan and very lively with lots of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. They say there is a bar here for every day of the year! These range from traditional historic timber framed pubs tucked away in ancient alleyways and squares, to really trendy places along the banks of the River Ouse.* You do not need a car in York. If possible, leave it and take a train (as we did) or a bus to the station just outside the city walls. Most of the centre of York is traffic free. Driving into the city centre is a nightmare - lots of congestion on roads around the city, especially at rush hour and on Saturday mornings. Parking is not easy and very expensive, particularly at weekends and during the peak summer months. The Park and Ride bus option is reasonably priced.* Walk wherever you can - you will see so much more that way. Definitely walk at least part of the 2 miles of city walls. Walking the whole way round takes about 2 hours. You can walk the walls every day between 8am and sunset. This is where you get the best views of York. The walls are medieval but were built on Roman foundations. The best views are from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar around the Minster. This section only takes about 15 minutes and is ideal if you do not want to walk the whole way round.* The train station in York is a lovely Victorian building. It was voted the "nicest" station in 2007. There are lots of arrivals and departures and it is one of the main hubs of the UK rail network. There are a large range of services and destinations to choose from. It is easy to find your way around, and on our visit, trains were on time. We bought our tickets online a few weeks in advance - this offered some really good savings.* Explore the "Snickleways" - these are the famous medieval alleyways and narrow streets in the centre of the city. They provide short cuts across the city centre. They tend not to be on maps so often you will not be sure where you are going to end up. In York though, this can be a nice surprise.* In July and August there are throngs of tourists choking the narrow streets and really long queues to get into the Minster. April, May, June and September are less crowded. We visited in September, there were lots of people, but not as bad as the summer months and we did not have to queue for the Minster.* Throughout the streets the buildings are decorated with gargoyles and other things. Look at the little devil on 33 Stonegate - this meant a printer worked here. Stonegate is full of interesting gargoyles. Close
I think that York must be the north of England's most compelling city. It is compact, but despite this, there are so many things to see and do. 4 million visitors come here every year - so others must agree with my view…Read More
I think that York must be the north of England's most compelling city. It is compact, but despite this, there are so many things to see and do. 4 million visitors come here every year - so others must agree with my view on this!York stood at the heart of England's religious and political life for centuries. Until the Industrial Revolution, it was second only to London in population and importance. York has Roman, Viking, Georgian and Victorian history and heritage. Few cities in England have such a rich history as there is here. York was the capital of the Roman Empire's Northern European territories and the base for Hadrian's northern campaigns.The city of York is still encircled by its wonderful 13th and 14th century walls. These are 2.5 miles long and have 4 gates. You can still walk the whole length of the walls. One of the gates - Mickelgate, once greeted visitors coming from the south with the heads of traitors on the gate.York also has an extraordinary spider's web of narrow medieval streets. The Shambles is possibly the most famous. Here the houses are timber framed and lean towards each other. The street is so narrow, that in parts you can stand on one side and almost touch the other.At the heart of the city of York is its crowning glory - the cathedral or Minster. This really is an awe inspiring place and is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. It is an important cathedral too - it makes the city of York an ecclesiastical centre, second only in importance to the Anglican Church to Canterbury.York Minster is also the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps. The stained glass windows are especially amazing. If you are fit enough, definitely climb up the steep metal and stone steps to the top of one of the towers - you will be rewarded with a breath-taking view of the city.In my opinion, culturally and historically and for beauty and just sheer fun, there is nowhere quite like York. Close
Written by Drever on 13 Jun, 2011
For 150 years tourists have flocked to York as it has much to offer. We made our way there in March. It is a no hassle place with all the attraction clustered in the city centre in what was the medieval town. For 2000 years…Read More
For 150 years tourists have flocked to York as it has much to offer. We made our way there in March. It is a no hassle place with all the attraction clustered in the city centre in what was the medieval town. For 2000 years York has played a leading role in England’s history. Even without its crowning glory, a cathedral of breath-taking grandeur, it would be a city of outstanding beauty, interest and ageless charm as the shortest of strolls can testify.The 9th Roman Legion founded the city in 71 AD. They erected a wooden fortress on level ground above the River Ouse close to its confluence with the River Foss. The fortress, later rebuilt in stone, covered 50 acres (20 ha) and barracked 6,000 soldiers. Significant traces of the Roman city have survived, the most spectacular being the base of the Multangular Tower which formed the westward corner of the legionary fortress. York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. Most of the remaining walls encircling the medieval town date from the 12th - 14th century.York declined in the post-Roman era until taken by the Angles in the 5th century. In the 7th century York became the chief city of the Anglian King Edwin of Northumbria. The city came to be the episcopal, and later, royal centre of the Kingdom of Northumbria.Vikings from Denmark captured the city in 866 AD. Under their rule the city known as Jovik became a major river port, part of the extensive Viking trading routes throughout northern Europe. King Edred drove the last ruler of an independent Jorvik, Eric Bloodaxe, from the city in the year 954 while completing unifying England. In 1973, during excavations in Coppergate to deepen the vaults of a bank, links with the Vikings appeared. They included three timber buildings preserved in the wet peaty subsoil and many examples of Scandinavian craftsmanship. In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially the rebellion was successful but on the arrival of William the Conqueror the rebels stood no chance. He at once built two wooden fortresses on mottes, which are still visible, on either side of the river Ouse. Fire badly damaged the first stone Minster church in the uprising and the Normans later decided to build a new Minster on a new site. Around the year 1080 Archbishop Thomas started building a cathedral that in time became the current Minster. In the Middle Ages York grew as a major wool trading centre and the ecclesiastical capital of the northern province of England. York's location halfway between the capitals of London and Edinburgh means that it has long had a significant position in the nation's transport system. One of the most notable legacies of the period is the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall built by the oldest and most powerful of the city’s many guilds.In 1644, during the Civil War, the Parliamentarians besieged York, and destroyed many medieval houses outside the city walls. The garrison surrendered but fortunately the terms included a promise the victors would not desecrate the Minster or any of the other churches. In 1660 with Charles II regaining his father’s throne the garrison from York became unnecessary. In 1688 it left and the city became dominated by the local gentry and merchants, although the clergy were still important. Competition from the nearby cities of Leeds and Hull, combined with silting of the River Ouse, resulted in York losing its dominant position as a trading centre. The city's role, however, as the social and cultural centre for wealthy northerners was on the rise. York's many elegant townhouses, such as the Lord Mayor's Mansion House and Fairfax House (now owned by York Civic Trust) date from this period, as do the Assembly Rooms, the Theatre Royal, and the Racecourse.The railways saved York from stagnation. Rail travel was still in its infancy when the first train left York in 1839. In 1840 the first train ran direct from York to London. By the 1850s, there were 13 trains a day between the two cities, carrying 341,000 passengers a year. In 1877 a new station, the largest in the country, opened to cope with the numbers. By 1888 there were 294 trains arriving daily.Tourism boomed: within two years of the first train steaming into York, excursions to the historic city were arriving from Manchester, Nottingham and London. Theatre goers came from miles around to see productions at the Theatre Royal, rebuilt four times in the 19th century. Two Fine Art and Industrial exhibitions in 1860 and 1879, at York Art Gallery, attracted nearly 870,000 people due to the new mass mobility of the railway age. The railways also brought heavy industry to the city for the first time. Fittingly Britain’s railway heritage is on display at the National Railway Museum in York. As well the Yorkshire Museum, the Castle Museum, the Railway Museum, the Guildhall parts of York itself is almost a museum. The Shambles and Stonegate are among the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. Close
Written by dkm1981 on 24 Jan, 2010
The city of York is, without a doubt, a shopper’s paradise. Offering everything from funky souvenir shops to the mainstream High Street giants, you can’t fail to find something here to spend your money on. The beauty of York is that the shops are laid…Read More
The city of York is, without a doubt, a shopper’s paradise. Offering everything from funky souvenir shops to the mainstream High Street giants, you can’t fail to find something here to spend your money on. The beauty of York is that the shops are laid out in a rabbit warren style amongst the old city and each turn of a corner offers another undiscovered gem or two.The first place to head is the area around Daveygate and Parliament Street, which is a massive square lined with the all the main High Street names including the Disney Store, Thorntons, Boots and the main banks. This is a nice place to start as it’s centrally located and will help you get your bearings when you are looking for other shops. There are also plenty of cafes around here for a quick stop between shops and there is often a travelling market located along the centre of the square; we’ve seen German Christmas markets and the local farmers markets in previous trips and they were both excellent, offering choice and quality that you don’t often get elsewhere.Leading off this main square many side roads that spread out around the centre and offer even more of your favourite shops. If you wander down towards the river, you’ll find WHSmiths and many clothes shops including Monsoon and Coast. Wandering up towards the impressive Minster will find you in the midst of the souvenir shops, where you kind find many hundreds of things proclaiming that ‘I’ve been to York’ in the guise of fridge magnets, keyrings and chocolate bars. Walking out towards the city walls with find you a plethora of cheaper shops, such as Poundland and The Works, as well as specialist shops offering things as varied as fancy dress, fishing tackle and even guns.If you walk across the River Ouse, you’ll find an excellent selection of Chinese restaurants and a very cheap and well stocked Chinese supermarket. This is a good place to find specialist ingredients or even Chinese ready meals at very good prices. The restaurant that is attached to this supermarket in particular is excellent – it offers a tasty food in stylish surroundings and the service is second to none.One of the most popular places in York and somewhere that shouldn’t be missed is Shambles. Shambles is a very narrow, cobbled street that runs parallel to Parliament Street. It is one of the most popular streets in Europe (according to its very own website) and details of it were recorded in the Doomsday Book, which makes it at least 900 years old. Shambles is what I imagine foreign visitors to this country picture when they are thinking about a stereotypical English town. It is a very small and narrow street that is lined with fifteenth century buildings that lean rather alarmingly towards its centre. It is almost always crowded, not only with shoppers but with tourists taking a photograph of the very pretty street. The shops here are mainly small boutiques offering antiques, hand made chocolates and wooden gifts amongst others.If you prefer the hustle and bustle of a market atmosphere then head to Newgate Market, again just off Parliament Street. With over 120 shops offering fresh flowers, local meat and a glittering array of fruit and vegetables, you are bound to find everything you need. I’ve always found that the things on sale here are very cheap, even compared to supermarkets, and the quality is exceptional. The market is actually a nice way to walk from the main shops to Shambles. Its open daily and has done since the Middle Ages. Another thing to enjoy in the centre whilst you are shopping is the outstanding street performances. The performers actually have to do auditions before they are allowed to perform here and this has ensured that some very talented people work here. I have seen musicians, magicians, dancers and comedians all work their thing and have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. Do make sure that you give money at the end of the performances as this is a full time job for these people and they are worth every penny you give them.Outside of the centre, there are more shopping opportunities including a series of retail parks (Monks Cross and Clifton Moor are the main ones) and these offer larger versions of the High Street shops as well as all of the main supermarkets. For those of you who like designer outlets though, make the trip to the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, just outside the city centre. A dedicated shuttle bus leaves York Station every ten minutes, so it is very easy to get to. It’s open from 10am until 6pm everyday except Thursday when it opens late until 8pm and there is plenty of free parking if you are arriving by car. The outlet is very well designed over two floors and is easy to walk around without missing anything. On the ground floor is where you’ll find all the shops offering up to 60% off regular prices on designer items from Paul Smith, Armani and Ted Baker to name a few. There is also a good smattering of kitchen accessory shops, toy stores and electrical shops all with good discounts. On the second floor is the food hall where you can get burgers, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, pizza and fish and chips from all the major food chains. Even if you don’t buy anything, the outlet is worth a trip because its a thoroughly modern place, all indoors, that makes for excellent window shopping.So, whatever you’re shopping desires, York has it all. Whether you are a hard core shopper who loves sniffing out a bargain or an occasional shopper who likes to enjoy the atmosphere of an historical city, you can’t fail to be impressed with York. Close
Written by tvordj on 06 Feb, 2009
I was part of a group of friends that gathered in Manchester in September 2000. We rented an 18 seat mini bus and did some day trips around the area. On one of those days, 8 of us decided to rent an 8 seat mini…Read More
I was part of a group of friends that gathered in Manchester in September 2000. We rented an 18 seat mini bus and did some day trips around the area. On one of those days, 8 of us decided to rent an 8 seat mini van and drive over to the historic city of York. I'd been there once, years before as part of an organized bus tour and one other of our group had been there many times but it was new for the rest of the group. We headed off cross country on the M62 to Yorkshire. The drive takes about an hour and a half, not much difference to the train journey from Piccadilly station to York station. This is a busy highway and the main west-east artery for that area.We arrived in York near to noon and parked in a Park and Ride lot. The city of York discourages traffic in the historic center and provides several of these car parks with free parking and a cheap return fare on a city transit bus into the center of the city, about 10 minutes away. We picked up tourist brochures at the bus stop and perused them on the way in and picked a 300 year old pub, called the Punch Bowl for our lunch break which we would do first to shore up our resources for an afternoon of exploring this lovely quaint city.The pub is inside the pedestrian section of York on a street called Stonegate. Many of the medieval streets in York are ended with "gate" and there are four old entrances to the city still standing but these are not called gates, but "bars". Micklegate Bar is probably the most photographed. Much of old York is still circled by city walls as well. The pub was low ceilinged and half beamed with several small rooms. We managed to find two tables for four each and ordered a meal. I had shepherd's pie and when it came, hot and steamy with real beef and gravy and creamy buttery mashed potatoes on top, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! The only thing that really took away from the old pub was a gambling machine behind us that was chirping and beeping and playing the theme tune from the cartoon series The Simpson's! Indignantly we decided they ought not to be allowed in a pub like that but I suppose competition wins out.Well fed and watered (ok, "ale'd") we wandered down Stonegate, admiring the shops and architecture and narrow alleys and lanes leading off the road. Looking up past street level is entertaining too because there are often lots of little details on the corners of the buildings. One photo I took is of a plaster devil painted all red. This road led across St. Helen's square and farther on to the grandiose York Minster, a soaring gothic cathedral that guards the city.It seems to have more light inside than Westminster Abbey in London and has less of the memorials and tombs than Westminster does as well though of course there are quite a few still. The stained glass windows in the nave and transepts are wonderful, soaring tall and perpendicular to echo the pillars and buttresses and the vaulted ceilings way above you will guarantee a crick in your neck as you gawp up in amazement. You may take photos but are required to buy a photo "license", basically that's just another way to raise money for the upkeep as there is no entrance fee, only a donation box at the door. You can climb up in the tower or go down into the crypt for another fee but I didn't do that. I had a look around but I had been here before in 1993 so I didn't spend a lot of time exploring. I had a look in the gift shop and then decided I better find a toilet. Outside, I saw Alan and told him what I was in search of and followed a sign down High Petergate to a public toilet. Well I followed the sign but I guess didn't go far enough because I was in despair of finding it so sneaked into a pub and used theirs. The pub was a few doors away from Bootham Bar and I found out later that the toilet was just outside the archways of the Bar.Back with the group, we set off for the Shambles via Lower Petergate. At that point everyone was oohing and ahing over the medieval houses and narrow streets. I thought, just you wait! About halfway down there we saw a busker on the street entertaining the tourists. But we were astonished to see that his musical instrument was a full sized upright piano! Now that's what we call trying hard! Mind you he must have been doing well at it because he had a mobile phone on his hip.Back to York. When we turned the corner into the Shambles Alan and I watched everyone's jaw drop! The street is about 6 or 8 feet across with a narrow pavement on either side. This used to be the area where the butchers had their abattoirs and shops and under the overhang of some of the houses you can still see meat hooks. Near the middle of the street are several houses that lean and twist and the upper floor levels are leaned into the street so far that two people could lean out the windows and shake hands across the gap! All the houses have shops in them now whether they did originally or not which of course does take away from the authenticity of them. One of the most twisted little houses belonged to Margaret Clitherow and her husband, a local merchant in Elizabethan times. Margaret was a secret Catholic and then not so secret and it got her into trouble because she was caught hiding priests in her house. She was in and out of prison several times and eventually executed for her treasonous activities. Inside the house where she lived is a little altar and shrine to her. She has been canonized as well and is a saint. We ducked in there for a look. Duck is the right word too, as the doorway was barely high enough for me to get in and I'm 5'8.Down the street a little farther we explored and photographed. Connie found a little lane called "Hornpot Lane" leading to a little cemetery and church, Trinity Church, a little bastion of peace and quiet only yards away from the busy tourist track of the Shambles. She scooted down there for a look while I found a market down another lane behind the Shambles. I didn't linger however as I wanted to keep with the group.Finally at the end of the Shambles we regrouped and checked our maps. Most of the group wanted to go to the Jorvik Viking museum. I had thought I would go to the larger York castle museum. We made our way down another short street but I spied some shops that caught my interest and changed my mind and decided to shop instead. I figured the museum would be too big to see much in the time we were going to stay so shopping suited me. Christine came back and joined me. Later, we found the Jorvik museum and had a cup of tea in the tea room though the others were long gone. We wandered outside the pedestrian area and discovered a long yellowed half beamed building which was the Merchant Adventurer's Hall, a sort of guild hall but it was closed by this time. The sky, which had become overcast by the time we got to the Minster, had darkened a bit and we thought it might rain.We made our way to the museum situated beside what little remains of the old York castle, Clifford's tower, sitting on a grassy mound. The others had been inside exploring and taking photos of the view over York. We met up and went to the museum but it was just closing so we browsed the gift shop for a few minutes. It's nearly 5 by this time so we decided to cross the road to the bus stop, having walked ourselves out. A short wait in the riverside park where the River Ouse was actually flooding part of the park near it's banks and then back to the mini bus.The drive back was quieter as we were tired but happy. A bit more traffic and we got back into Manchester and to the hotel by 7. Close
Written by UK Flower Girl on 17 Sep, 2005
When planning a visit to York, you may want to consider the York Pass available from the Tourist Offices in York or from their website where multi-day passes are sold at a discounted rate. Passes are available for one, two or three days sightseeing…Read More
When planning a visit to York, you may want to consider the York Pass available from the Tourist Offices in York or from their website where multi-day passes are sold at a discounted rate. Passes are available for one, two or three days sightseeing in and around York. The Pass comes with a small guide that offers basic information about the sights you can enter for free within and outside of York as well as discounts at restaurants, cafés, and other activities.
I had a friend, Faith, visiting from the U.S. We purchased our York Pass at the Tourist Office near the Minster, just outside the city walls. Since we were leaving for Germany the next day we chose the one-day pass. It was £17 (right around $30 at the current exchange rate) for each of our passes.
The York Pass provides for some of York’s most popular attractions such as the City Sightseeing bus tour, York Brewery, York Dungeon, York Model Railway (free already, but offers sound guide free), and York Minster. If you purchase the multi-day pass, you can also see some sites outside of York, such as Castle Howard, Eden Camp, World of James Herriot, Yorkshire Air Museum and various abbeys and castles in the area.
We used our passes first for the York Minster. Due to a fire alarm going off we didn’t get to go down to the Undercroft and Crypt since they evacuated the building. We never did go back. We also used it for the bus tour, Clifford’s Tower, and Fairfax House. It is actually tough to get your money’s worth unless you have a whole day to sightsee.
The card does offer budget sightseeing if you really keep moving all day. Feel like biking? Europcar offers bikes for £5 per day from their office in the train station. Want to catch up on your email? The Gateway Internet Café-Bar offers up to an hour free internet time with your pass and Starbucks offers a two-for-one drink (and it will still be overpriced!).
The Tourist Office offers many other things besides the York Pass. Here you can find brochures for many area activities as well as a couple of shelves with many maps, books and guides for area sights. The friendly staff at the office will also make hotel bookings and give superb advice about all of York. You can post your postcards and even purchase tickets for some events and sights here, too.
Overall, I would highly recommend the York Pass if you are planning on seeing many of the sights anyways. To get your money’s worth out of it, though, you really have to keep moving all day. If you plan on being in the area for more than one day, it seems to me that the best option is to purchase the two or three-day pass. It is only 5.50 more online or 8 more in person for a two-day pass. This will allow you to see something away from the city like Castle Howard (admission here is £9.50 for adults and £6.50 for children) or Eden Camp (admission is £4.50 for adults and £3.50 for children).
Written by Nancy on 02 Oct, 2000
We walked through the ancient city gate of York as the bells chimed noon. Although twelve was far later than I’d anticipated arriving, it was still a huge thrill to be strolling down a narrow lane of shops built in who knows when to the…Read More
We walked through the ancient city gate of York as the bells chimed noon. Although twelve was far later than I’d anticipated arriving, it was still a huge thrill to be strolling down a narrow lane of shops built in who knows when to the sound of these thunderous bongs. The idea of real bells in European churches has always fascinated me. They seem so romantic to those of us who come from the West Coast of the USA where the only church bells are pathetic, electronic clarions.
After twelve tolls the bells were still going. Curious, I left my family in an antique shop and went out to the end of the street and looked up at the Minster itself. It was really loud there in front of the church. I felt the concussion of each impact reverberate through my body, and I thought with a shudder of a favorite mystery book, The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers in which bells are almost characters. To understand the shudder read the book!
Written by Ed Hahn on 03 Jul, 2005
First is when I stop at a pub for lunch. For reasons, which even now I can't figure out, I order a chili-stuffed potato. It is horrible. Quite frankly, it's the worst pub food I have my whole time in England.…Read More
First is when I stop at a pub for lunch. For reasons, which even now I can't figure out, I order a chili-stuffed potato. It is horrible. Quite frankly, it's the worst pub food I have my whole time in England. The beer is good, though. Never again, until my last night in England 7 weeks hence, do I order American-type food while I am in Europe.
Second, I decide to stop at a Burger King Internet Café to access my email. Yes, it's true, a Burger King Cyber Café. It takes me 40 minutes just to purge the spam that made it through the Mail Guard filter. What a waste of time and energy. I'm afraid spam is going to be the death of the Internet.
I am brought up short at the smell of cigarette smoke. I realize that I am shocked. I can't remember the last time I saw a smoker in a fast-food restaurant. I worry that I'm becoming another "politically correct" anti-smoker person, me, a three-pack-a-day smoker until I quit 17 years, three months, and 13 days ago. I also worry that, if I am bothered by second-hand smoke, I'm going to have problems later when I get to continental Europe, especially since I'll be traveling with a smoker for 3 weeks.
Written by jopyz on 26 Oct, 2004
While planning our trip to London, I also looked into possible day trips out of town and was immediately intrigued by the city of York. I found its long history and medieval flavor impossible to ignore. So early one morning, we hopped the…Read More
While planning our trip to London, I also looked into possible day trips out of town and was immediately intrigued by the city of York. I found its long history and medieval flavor impossible to ignore. So early one morning, we hopped the train at King’s Cross for the two-hour ride north to York.
We had tickets for the hop-on-hop-off city tour, so we first took that around the city to get oriented, but York was very easily managed just on foot. The central part of the city is almost, but not completely, surrounded by the 13th century wall and gates (or bars, as they are called) and a one-of-a-kind barbican. We began our exploration at the
magnificent York Minster cathedral, a beautiful, gothic-style cathedral with numerous
medieval stained glass windows.
After viewing the cathedral, we began wandering down the narrow, winding streets. Some were wide enough for cars to pass through, but others were definitely just for walking, especially those that had over-hanging second stories. It was a charming area to walk and an interesting place for studying the architecture. As we walked along we sampled the baked goods and meat pies from some of the tempting bakeries in the area, as well as stopping into various gift shops. Down in the square, a band was setting up to play for the lunchtime crowd, adding to the festive atmosphere.
York’s history as first a Roman and then a Viking city was one of the things that had originally attracted me to visit, so we next headed off to the Jorvik Viking Center. Personally, I found myself somewhat disappointed in the place. It takes guests on a time- travel ride to the city of York during the Viking period. You ride through scenes set up with animated figures and authentic aromas, depicting what life was like in the 10th century. While entertaining and, honestly, fairly informative, I didn’t particularly care for the presentation. I far more enjoyed the end of the tour, where they had displays of the artifacts found during the archeological excavations in the area and costumed presenters doing short talks on different aspects of the Viking culture. The weapons guy was quite good.
Our last stop before heading back to London was the interestingly named Bar Convent. It was just too hard to pass. The name comes from the fact that the convent is located just outside a bar, or gate, of the city wall. Not a very noticeable building, but the museum it contained showed a fascinating history, not only of the convent’s foundress, but also of the lives of Catholics during the time of suppression in England. Besides the museum, the convent still houses a school, a gift shop, a small café, and guest rooms, as well as an attractive chapel. While found accidentally, the Bar Convent was a truly enjoyable stop on our day in York.
There were several other places that I would have loved to visit, including Clifford’s Tower, the Railway, and York Castle Museums, but unfortunately, we still had packing to do for our return to the States when we arrived in London, so it was on the time to get on the train and head back south. But I will be looking forward to an opportunity to finish my tour of York in the future.
Written by Green Dragon on 13 May, 2003
Wednesday the 9th
We woke up around 7am, well-rested and ready to start on our adventure! The breakfast was wonderful and of course more than we were used to. There was a choice of cereals (I chose the equivalent of raisin bran), apple juice, coffee, tea,…Read More
Wednesday the 9th
We woke up around 7am, well-rested and ready to start on our adventure! The breakfast was wonderful and of course more than we were used to. There was a choice of cereals (I chose the equivalent of raisin bran), apple juice, coffee, tea, milk, eggs, ham (sort of like Canadian bacon), sausage, toast, and fried tomato -- definitely plenty to fill us up!
We decided to find the Games Workshop factory, so Jason could look around, so we looked up the address of a shop in the business directory (which, by the way, just happened to be the Yellow Pages!). We found three addresses, so we wrote them down and went on our way.
We tried to call them from the phone booth out across the street from our B&B, but there was no answer. We also tried to call our next B&B, but also no answer. So we drove back to Nottingham, explored a little bit. It’s a nice town, busy enough for some entertainment, but not so busy that it was very dirty or run down. After about three circuits of the downtown area, we found one of the Games Workshops stores, but it was closed until 10am (it was about 9:30am at that point), so we walked around and people-watched for a bit. We found a church nearby and sat on the bench under a tree to watch for a while.
At 10am, we went into the shop, looked around at the nifty displays (Jason took some photos of the storefront display) and got directions to the factory/museum, which was only about 15 minutes away. We drove to the factory, and it had a huge Chaos Marine out front in stone. We went inside and took the tour of all the gaming convention displays, and Jason took a roll and a half of pictures. We had a drink at the Bugman Bar at the end of the tour, and phoned our next two B&Bs to make reservations.
We drove on to York that afternoon and found the parking lot completely full -– in fact, it took us 10 minutes just to drive past the entrance, as the traffic was stopped up –- each person on that street was waiting for another to leave the lot, rather than driving by! We parked in an alley close by and proceeded to walk into the centre of town. We saw a museum called the Jorvik Viking Center, which had some wonderful displays, but it was £6.50 each to get in, so we decided to instead wander around the town. We did meet a local Living History-type gentleman at the entrance, entertaining those waiting in line to get in. He was dressed quite historically accurate as a Viking, and had a large axe that he let kids hold. He talked up the Viking Centre as he strode up and down the aisle.
We went down into the center shopping district, where the street is strictly for pedestrians, no cars allowed. The streets were cobblestone, and there were two floors of shops facing the street. We stopped at one shop that had all sorts of swords and historical-style nicknacks, very tempting. However, since we had very little cash, we bought nothing.
We went on down the street to York Minster, and walked around the church before entering (Jason has a tradition of this –- it keeps him from bursting into flames as he enters, or something). The walls, ceilings and windows were amazing. There was a line of sculptures representing each king of England from William the Conqueror to about 1400 -– I don’t remember who the last king was, but I know Henry VIII wasn’t there!
We heard the choir practicing, and toured the rest of the Minster. There were tombs and memorials to merchants, civil servants, military men, and many church officials. They covered the walls, the halls, even the floors!
After our visit to York Minster, we headed back to the shopping district for our supper -– we found a small fish & chips place and had that and a chicken & mushroom pie. It was ok, but not as good as last night’s supper. It was a fast food-style place out front, with a sit-down restaurant in the back and the restrooms off the back patio.
When we got back to the car, we found a £20 parking ticket –- oops! We had a bit of a time getting out of the walled town, as rush hour traffic was starting (it was about 4:30pm) and there are only so many exits through the walls!
We headed towards our next B&B, which was in a town called Ravenscar on the northeast coast of England. We found it across the street from an old mill; it was called Smuggler’s Rock and was cute -– the room was small but adequate. We checked in and went exploring. We drove first down to the right and towards the coast (you could see the North Sea on the horizon from the B&B), and stopped to look over the incredibly beautiful inlet. A local woman walking her dogs told us that the town across the inlet was called Robin Hood’s Bay and it was built on the side of the incline, rather on the bottom near the sea, so that they would be able to see the Vikings coming in from the sea easier and be able to more easily defend their town.
We drove back past the B&B and continued on North along the shore (up about 500 feet!). This was a small, windy, up and down road, the first of such we had really dealt with, and we felt we were going to die at any moment! We drove really slow, and explored where it went -– which was nowhere. It led to a couple private, gated driveways, and it was a rock road (like a dirt road, but with gravel, not sand). At one point, I swear the angle was about 45 degrees!
We went back to the B&B and went the last direction we hadn’t taken, west, back towards the main road. Once there, we took that road to Whitby, a harbor town of decent size. We explored the ruined Whitby Abbey and the church grounds (right next to a youth hostel), which had a spectacular view of the sea, being on a promontory over the harbor. Jason started getting a little faint (we think the jet lag and lack of blood sugar started getting to him), so we found a take-out fish & chips place and shared an order while sitting on the docks and watching the sun set. It started getting chilly at night and I knew we were getting farther north!
We drove back to the B&B and dropped off to sleep pretty early, about 10:30pm.