Monday, January 4, 2016

York, England

Actual date of this event: 15-17 May

Our UK Visas expired back in June, so Luke and I needed to set aside some time in May to give up our passports for a few weeks. That meant we couldn't travel out of the UK. Boohoo us, right? So, we jumped on the opportunity to visit one of the must see places on our list: York.
York is one of the most historic cities in the UK with beautiful city walls, a massive cathedral, Diagon Alley-like streets (Harry Potter fans, you would love it!), and the most pubs in one square mile that I have ever seen in my life. Oh and I can't forget, we ate THE BEST Indian food we have ever had, too - really, the trip to York is worth it just for that!
We took the train around 11am, and it zipped passed those beautiful rapeseed fields. For miles and miles, all we saw was yellow everywhere. It was so beautiful and really made the 2.5 hour train journey go by so fast.
When we checked into the hotel, we decided to walk and see stuff on Friday, and then actually visit and do things on Saturday.

So we started our walk on Friday with a pub stop at the Kings Arms along the river. Quick little story - Luke to barmaid: "Two pints of Sovereign Bitter please." Barmaid pours beers: "That will be £3.75." Luke: "Oh, I had two pints." Barmaid: "Yes, two pints is £3.75." Luke brings beers back to me: "Debbie, we're gonna get drunk here!!" Granted, it was a Sam Smith's pub and those are notorious for being cheaper than other pubs, but still, that was amazing! And we refrained from getting drunk... there. Anyway, it was a beautiful day, and everyone was enjoying the weather. So we sat on the edge of the river to enjoy our cheap pint before wandering the city. We passed by the majority of the sights and made several pub stops along the way too.
{The Kings Arms has been known to flood when the river gets too high, with a marking board on the wall. The UK was recently hit with heavy rain and many areas have been devastated by flooding, one of them Aberdeen. York was hit very hard, and the Kings Arms will soon be adding another marker to their board. Click here to see an article with an image of the Kings Arms under water. We have had such a wet past couple of weeks - we actually had a small leak in the roof - so let's hope this stops soon!}

{Above: We actually found Crown Royal in that display of bottles!}
{Above & Below: The Shambles is EXACTLY like Diagon Alley. They should have just done filming here!}

For dinner, we enjoyed delicious Indian food at Mumbai Lounge, and decided we had made enough pub stops for the day, so we called it a night fairly early. On Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Cafe Concerto before visiting York Minster Cathedral.

It was another gorgeous day (we got so lucky with weather during all of our travels in 2015!!), so we decided to climb the stairs up the central tower.

{Above: The Shambles}

After York Minster, we got a quick coffee then walked along the city walls. It is free to walk the three miles worth of walls which is nice. We came across a few gates/towers where we were forced to leave the wall, but then we were able to continue soon after. There were parts where we saw other people walking as well and other parts where we didn't see anyone for a while.

After walking as much of the walls as we could, we decided to visit the Clifford's Tower, also known as York Castle. Built up on a mound, the tower was just part of the castle, and is the only part still standing. At one point, an explosion destroyed the roof of the tower leaving only the walls intact.

After visiting the tower, we were pretty much finished with the tourist attractions. We continued wandering around the city, until we came upon a flyer for a beer festival at the York Brewery. We meandered that direction, and felt like such outsiders... because we were. Everyone there was a local and chatting with each other, meanwhile, us introverts stuck to ourselves. Hundreds of different English brews were available, so it was difficult to choose which to taste. We even saw a bright turquoise colored cider which looked fun!

As we walked around the city, we noticed MANY people "having a good time". By midday on Saturday, there was so many groups of stag and hen do's (bachelor and bachelorette parties), and those people were crazy! I didn't think York would be a big party place (I've heard Newcastle is the place to go), but it sure seemed that way. I was very curious to see how the rest of their days turned out given they still had a whole evening and night to go!

For dinner, we followed the recommendation of another expat and went to Missoula. It was an American restaurant, and this expat claimed it was one of the best meals she ever had in the UK... not that it was bad, but I most definitely would not consider it to be anywhere near a top meal I've had in the UK - sorry. On Sunday, we had a few hours before our train at 3:30pm. We went to Cafe Luca to have an English Breakfast, then walked our way toward the train station. With still a few hours to go, we decided to visit the nearby Railway Museum which was free. It actually turned out to be pretty neat with lots of old steam engines, old carriages and Royal Carriages set up the way the Kings and Queens liked them. They also had some of the fastest trains in the world on display. It was a great way to pass the time for a few hours.

I am so glad that we got the chance to go to York! It was a wonderful city to visit for a weekend, and I highly recommend it. I was told before going that it is what London was like before the Great Fire with small streets, an old feel, and quirky timbered buildings - I could see that. It would be fun if we could go back with some friends, but not to do the major partying, just to enjoy the pubs and of course the Indian food.

York Minster's Great East Window is larger than 2,000 square feet, the largest medieval glass in the world.

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