If time travel were possible we think it would be a lot like going to York. This place has the most diverse past. From Roman walls to Vikings towns, Tudor architecture and historical figures this place has it all…
We started the morning with a nice walk. Our hostel is up away from the city center so it takes about 20 minutes to get to the tourist area. However today we were told about the river walk. It seems the uphill climb along the motorway we took yesterday is not only the less scenic route but also the long way. When we reached the center of town we went in search of a breakfast spot. On the way we passed the birthplace of Guy Fawkes (it’s now a restaurant & inn…but we didn’t go there). We ended up in a little cafe having the most gigantic & most delicious french toast. Justine also had an absolutely huge cup of coffee & Kristin had a whole pot of tea.
The first planned destination of the day was York Minster Cathedral. This church is a great example of what we were saying about York’s widespread history. The Romans first built a church at this location when they invaded. In 627AD the Normans built the second church on top of the Roman ruins, hoping this would inspire people to look at them as strong like the roman empire. Finally in approximately 1200AD the present day cathedral was built. We first toured the main floor, being the nave, the quire and the transepts (where all of the plaques and memorials are located). There was a really beautiful pipe organ placed above the altar…and seeing as Kristin is trying to be a pipe organ enthusiast this excited her. The highlight though was probably the stained glass. There was so many huge windows depicting scenes from the bible, conation scenes and other general pleasantries. There was also a small sort of exhibit that told about the windows and restorative efforts being made to keep them whole & in place.
The church also featured a treasury & crypt. Down below we saw many old artifacts including the remains of the roman church as well as the chalices & other pieces involved in the offering over the centuries. We also saw how the boundaries and layout of the churches which stood here evolved over the years.
Next was the Vikings!!!!! We had read about this place and were excited about it, but the descriptions hadn’t done it justice. The Jorvik Viking Center was built when they discovered Viking ruins beneath the town in 1972. The center started with a large room with a clear floor. Under it you were able to see the excavation site of an old Viking house and street. We saw the hearth and the toilet out back. Also an old comb and brooch and even old dice. The next section of the center was the best part! It was a ride! A very educational & informative ride, but still a really badass Disney-like ride. It took you through scenes of Viking homes and workshops and markets and allowed you to see what their lives were really like. Finally we walked through the museum portion which had artifacts & skeletons & lots of informative displays. Being so wrapped up in the Viking world I think we read every single sign and watched every minute of film they had in the place! Basically we learned a lot, had a lot of fun and reinforced the fact the Vikings are just the coolest! (although Kristin was disappointed the didn’t actually ride dragons…wasn’t How to Train Your Dragon a historical accurate animated film?!)
The National Rail Museum is a place that would totally rock if you were into trains. If your not, it’s still really cool…there’s just A LOT of information about trains here….really, a lot! We liked walking along and looking at the big, old trains that were parked everywhere. The Royal Carriages were on display. From this we learned Queen Victoria travelled in style! Queen Elizabeth however kept things pretty simple. The displays on obscure things like how the mail was sorted on trains we kind of skimmed over. We had already done so much learning at the Viking Center that it was hard to process any more new facts. Hidden away in the back corner, where we never would have seen it if we didn’t know to ask, was the Hogwarts Express! The actual one from the movie! It was all red & black and shiny!
Lunch was late…so it was kinda lupper. (Don’t worry moms we are eating enough!) Lunch was also wonderfully British! We once again hit up a traditional type pub. Justine had breaded scampi & Kristin had a Yorkshire pudding wrap.
In the afternoon we took a break. We laid in the park by the cathedral and did a word search & a word ladder (our new favorite word game app!). We were serenaded by a chorus of bells chiming for almost half an hour…we’re not sure why they were chiming as it went from about 4:45 till 5:15…??? When we felt all rested and renewed we went for a walk on the old town walls. They were built by the Romans as a form of protection from invaders…they would work well as both a lookout and an attack platform.
As evening approached we got a hot beverage before departing on another ghost tour. We hadn’t planned on doing a ghost tour in York, especially since we had just done one in Cambridge but there are so many here that we figured there has to be some good stories. Plus we saw one go by us yesterday while we were trying to find wifi to post last night and it looked so good that we searched and searched today to find the right one! And we did! The guide was an old man dressed in a top hat and and old fashioned coat (the ones with the little cape on the back). He was possibly the most entertaining person we’ve ever had the privilege to see! He was funny and clever and had a awesome tour planned out. Oh, and the ghost stories were good too… But mainly it was worth it just to follow this wonderful actor around and see what he would get up to next. At one point he had our entire tour group (and this was a big tour of maybe 75 people…although it didn’t feel that huge) waving and making faces at people in restaurants. Then he was doing some illusion that pretty much had everybody convinced he was cutting off his hand. Then he was getting people to grope each other. Then he was telling a really terrible tale of the ghost of a little girl who was trapped in a plague ridden house. Anyway, we could go on and on about him…to sum up, he was incredible! Best tour ever!
– Cats! There are little cat statues everywhere in York. We had the option of going on a tour to see them all this afternoon but we passed that up…
What we Learned Today:
– Lots of things about Vikings…did you know they never actually had horns on their helmets?
– Some things about trains…or maybe nothing about trains as we can’t think of an entertaining fact to put here…
Highlights of the Day:
1. Viking Ride!!! So awesome!
2. French Toast!
3. The Best Tour Guide Ever!
Love, Luck & Lupper,