Monday, 24 January 2011

Later in the Semester there is a College organised trip to York, but a group of my friends from Evansville were daft enough to agree to come independantly with me this past weekend. Now, any native to any country knows that having people vist from other places is basically a big excuse to be able to do the fun touristy things yourself! I've been travelling to York for Christmas shopping for the last four years, but I hadn't done most of the things we did on this day.

We got the train down for a cost of £13.55 each: not bad at all! The first thing we did was walk along part of the walls that surround the old city (prompting many 'storming York' photos) on our way to the York Minster, which is the stunning gothic cathedral you can see n the photos above. Inside the cathedral is a lovely war memorial dedicated to the pilots who died in World War II: the clock is designed to show the world as a pilot would see it whilst flying.

After our early start (these cheap train tickets have their own cost in a way!) we decided on an early lunch break at the world famous 'Betty's Tea Room'. I'm sure that everyone knows that the English love their tea, and Betty's is one of the places where you can have an old fashioned cream tea: complete with scones, clotted cream, jam and a big pot of Yorkshire Tea. I was really very glad that we got to go there as it's rare I get to have a cream tea myself: I'm much more used to the 'tea bag in a mug' kind of cuppa! My friends were fascinated by the presence of cream so thick you have to spread it on the scones with a knife: quite different to the sort they have at home. We went at 11am; if you wait until lunch or the traditional 'afternoon tea time' at 4pm you will most likely have to queue, but things move pretty quickly and it's not long before you're seated.

The old keep from the original York Castle is still standing, and is known today as Cliffords Tower. For £3.00 you can clamber up the incredibly steep manmade hill to the tower itself, which has plenty of winding staircases, photo spots and rooms to occupy you. It has one of the best views of the city, with signs pointing out some of the more important buildings.

All too soon it got dark, so we only got to the ruins of St. Marys Abbey in the grounds of the York Museum as dusk fell. One of the victims of the dissolution of the monasteries in the rule of Henry VIII, the original building was destroyed in 1539. The ruins are in the botanical gardens that surround the Museum, and which are free to enter.

Finally, it came time to depart. One little known fact for the Harry Potter nuts amongst you is that the bridge on which Harry recieves his tichets from Hagrid in the first film is the one in York: there aren't any bridges in Kings Cross because it is an 'end of the line' station. You might look a little odd taking photos on what seems to be a perfectly ordinary bridge, but every American I've taken to York so far has done so, and why not?

I hope this gives you some ideas for future trips out, as York is really a fantastic city, one of the few really traditional English cities left. Plus, it's not a bad place to shop in either...