York, like Oxford, was one of the cities that none of us had planned to visit. There was a day when every one didn’t feel like staying at home studying but with nowhere to go. One of us – a lover of historical places – suggested making a trip to York. According to him, York is a beautiful city, rich with English Heritage traditions. At first, the others were a bit hesitant, thinking that being just a small city, it might be just a waste of money. We were, however, absolutely too bored, so, off we went to York. It was one of the short day trips where we did not get to visit a lot of places.
We started off quite late in the day and when we reached York, it was already mid-morning. It is a small town, just less than an hour away from Leeds. It boasts having a stunning Cathedral, Viking attractions, medieval guildhalls and Georgian town houses. Walking down the cobbled streets lined with crooked buildings reminded me of being in Diagon Alley. (think Harry Potter) Most of the tourist attractions in York; we discovered; were mere castles and museums – definitely not our cup of tea.
We walked aimlessly around for quite some time and stopped for lunch at the Highgate Street. This popular shopping spot in York was bustling with people. A street mime dressed in yellow (had his whole body painted yellow, too)was extremely persistent in following one of us around. We jokingly took pictures of them together and after much dodging, he finally left us alone. It had never occured to us then that he might is street performer and some £££ could keep him away.
We felt lazy to walk on after lunch, so, we decided to join one of the Sightseeing Tours in the city. For just £8, we got ourselves a bus ticket that will bring us on ‘an exciting and informative tour’ around town. We could hop on or off at any of the tour’s designated stops, at any time. (the ticket’s valid within 24 hrs). We kind of liked that as it will give us a choice to move on to another location should we not prefer to visit one attraction. And furthermore, by travelling on the bus, it will relieve us the torture of walking.
Our first stop was the York Minster. Tagged as one of Europe’s finest cathedrals, the York Minster has a glorious medieval architecture with the most fantastic collections of stained glass. Since we would be charged with entrance fees, we had to make do with taking pictures just outside the cathedral. It was a shame but since we were on a tight budget, it didn’t seem important for us to spend unnecessary money on.
In addition to the York Minster, we had also stopped by the Cliffords Tower. Apparently, it used to be a part of the York Castle. Standing majestically on top of a small grassy hill – it is said to be worth for visitors to first climb up the hill, pay for the entrance fees to the tower and then climb up the stairs again to the top. And we, being lazy bums and stingy women, did not even attempt ot climb up the hills. According to the glossy brochures we had with us, visitors would expect to see York’s wonderful view when they are atop the Tower.
The Castle Museum was the next attraction that we hop off the bus for. It invites its visitors to experience life as a Victorian as well as a Viking, which historical York was very famous for. By that time, it was already late evening and we were dragging ourselves along, dreading to go home. As usual, it charges and entrance fee and we just sat down on the steps and took pictures. It faces a large square field and on the other four corners were some buildings we could not identify. We took some more pictures of the buildings and headed home.
To summarise, York is indeed a beautiful town, as suggested by the friend of us earlier. If it wasn’t for us beig so tired, we would have enjoyed our trip a lot. To those who are really into castles and museums, York is definately worth a visit. It is one of the cities that would give you an ‘English feel’ rather than being in yet another nondescript cosmopolitan city.