York

Went to York for the long weekend May bank holiday.  It’s a great little place to visit with an awful lot of past.  In York they have Past that goes all the way back to AD71 and they are very good at telling you about it!  I think having so much Past makes it an interesting city and great place to visit, because there has been various settlements in exactly the same place since AD71 and it is possible to see evidence of all of these.  At some point (I think sort of Victorian times, but I didn’t take notes) the city council was about to tear down the old city walls and ‘modernize’ all those little narrow streets – and that was stopped – which means that York has layers of change up to a certain point at which preservation and excavation took over and now tourism to look at old-stuff.

The City Walls are interesting in themselves, but also the areas of little narrow streets around the Minster which gives the place that quaint historic look.  However it is difficult to get your bearings, you start to feel smug about knowing your way around when all the locals come out at night and move the streets around like a giant sliding puzzle.   I believe this may be some form of ancient city defence mechanism which is a fall back in case the walls fail to keep out the enemy – simply move streets and landmarks around randomly until they leave in the confusion.

York Minster itself is impressive, and well worth the entry price – especially since photography is permitted.  There is a lot to see and it seems to always have been an active practicing church which hasn’t been lost to simply being a tourist-venue.  There is a built in aerobic exercise of climbing hundreds of stairs to get to the top of the main lantern-tower which does have incredibly views over the city and surrounding countryside.  Again, this is an extra payment and quite a challenge but worth it.

There are a number of other things to do and see in York, the more famous of these being the Yorvic Viking experience and the National Railway Museum – neither of which interested us so we didn’t bother with.  We did visit Cliffords Tower, almost visited the castle museum, looked around the art gallery (wasn’t really impressed with that), and looked at some old churches, and Waterstones.  There was also a market each day we were there over the weekend and lots of interesting shops in the winding streets to explore.

Food, however did seem to dominate a little as we were in pursuit of an elusive concept of a roast beef dinner served up in a giant yorkshire pudding.  At first we sort of assumed this would be easy to find, but couldn’t see anything like that on any menus.  We started asking around, first some of the guides at the National Trust property we visited (Treasurer’s House), someone in the National Trust shop, the guest house owner, etc.  all we really got was ‘some of the pubs might do that’ or ‘I’m not really sure where you would get that’.  … We didn’t manage – our last attempt was to go into a restaurant which was in a really old building and had chalk boards outside with things like ‘real Yorkshire Roast’ and ‘Faggots and Pease Pudding‘ etc.  This turned out to have those things along side pasta, snacks, etc. and we were served by an Italian, German or Eastern European and a Chinese guy.  After asking how they served their roast beef we both went for burgers – which were excellent but we didn’t ever see any ‘giant yorkshire puddings’.

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