Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Trip to York

We hopped on a train and headed north to York on Thursday.

We had a rough idea of what we wanted to do when we got there but 
played a lot of it by ear. Danielle and I make great traveling partners because we're pretty flexible and go with the flow. We bought a two day "York Pass" that let us into many attractions around the city for one set price. I highly recommend looking into these for big tourist cities, and there's even one for London that I'm going to check out.

We toured York Minster, a beautiful Gothic Cathedral in the heart of York containing the largest expanse of medieval stained glass windows, each window being cleaned every 100 years. Imagine the dust!

Outside the minster is a statue of Constantine the Great, close to where he was appointed Emperor of Rome in 306 AD. What?!?! York was founded by the Romans in 71 AD, and the entire Roman Empire was even governed from York for a couple of years. I love the history here!

I got excited when I heard there was a Roman Bath in the city, but when we went to see it, I was a bit disappointed. There was a Roman Bath there and all, but it was just a one room "museum" underneath a pub, jazzed up to make it more than it was. It wasn't professionally done (there was construction paper cut outs hanging on the wall, ha)  I guess I'll have to wait until I can actually go to the city of Bath when my mom comes to visit in March.

Walking the streets of York was a lot of fun because it's very picturesque. The streets and architecture look exactly like I imagined England should look like. Sheffield is great and all, but it's not as pretty as York. The city is surrounded by fortress walls that are open during the day to walk on. Danielle and I had a blast walking along them, even though some parts don't have railings...scary! It was fun to imagine what it would be like standing on them 2000 years ago, guarding the city. Apparently there's a law that still exists today that anyone standing on the city walls can shoot a Scottish person with a bow and arrow if they're spotted after dark. Maybe that's why they lock the gates at dusk...

We caught the musical 42nd street at the Theatre Royal for just 5 pounds! Of course we paid for our cheapness when our seats were at the very top of the theater, above the stage lights. The best part of the musical? Hearing people with British accents attempting New York accents and one character tried for a Texas accent. The lady next to us asked if they sounded American, and I tried to be sweet and said said some of them did but then Danielle came right out and set they weren't even close.

Friday was a beautiful day filled with more tourist activities. My favorite part was walking through the Clifford's Tower, the only remaining part of York Castle. William the Conqueror had built a small tower on this same piece of land, but it was burned down two years after having been built. If you look closely, you can see small slits on the walls. That's where bow and arrows were shot. They were big enough to allow the arrow through but small enough that no other arrow would get through....clever clever!

After that we headed to the Fairfax House, a townhouse displaying furniture from the 18th century, and I learned a little about Georgian architecture. We also toured the York Castle Museum which had a replica of a city street as it would have looked in the 1700's, down to the bank, general store, and schoolroom.

We ended the day by having tea at an Italian cafe. I drank white hot chocolate (am I the only one who has never heard of this?) and tried chocolate caramel shortbread for the first time. It was delicious and is now my favorite snack to get at coffee shops here.

I highly recommend York if you're ever in England, and I hope that I get to come back before I go home in June.


Danielle said...

you hope you go back? me too! should we seriously consider it?!

D's Mom said...

Janelle -- I love the descriptive writing by both you and Danielle. It allows me to see in my minds eye the castles, cobblestone streets (even though you didn't mention them :-) ). I bet the architecture is wonderful. Do they truly only wash those windows once every 100 years...OMG!

Of course, I am reading and traveling through the country side with your words but the thing that caught my attention was the chocolate caramel short bread (I think that is right) and white chocolate. YUMMMMMMMMMMM! That is what I want for sure.

So glad you are having a wonderful time. I can't wait to read about your trip with your mother.