We just left York and are on our way to our hotel in Carlisle. The city of York was definitely different than I expected in a good way. I was expecting something similar to London or Liverpool – a modern metropolis, but was treated to an old walled city filled with meandering roads and a plethora of shops and pubs. The city made me feel like I was back to places like San Gimigano or Siena in Italy or Prague in the Czech Republic, some of my favorite places in the world.
Yorkshire County has a large Viking culture as it was settled by many Vikings when the King of England gave them land to settle to try to avoid the numerous Viking raids. The city of York had a Viking museum, but it was closed due to a significant flood a few months ago.
Since the city was a walled city, the streets were so narrow that our bus had to park outside the city in a car park. Our Contiki tour guide walked us through the city so we could get our bearings and left us for a free afternoon of exploration and enjoyment!
Our walk through the town concluded at the York Minster Cathedral. There was a play going on, so we couldn’t walk around the entire interior, but the building was still very impressive.
We then grabbed a bite to eat at a local Fish & Chips place. Since I’m not a huge fan of fish, I had a hamburger. Once we are, we were off to explore the city of York.
We skillfully dodged the rain, which in typical English fashion was very sporadic. It would rain one minute and be warm and sunny the next! I briefly broke off from the group of people I was with to walk down a street called “The Shingles” which is a very narrow street with shops, restaurants & pubs along it. It reminded me a bit of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
I then walked towards Clifford’s Tower at York Castle which was one of the main guard towers of the city and is the only one still standing. It was partially burned down in 1190 when 150 members of the Jewish community took refuge from a mob there before committing mass suicide instead of being murdered by the mob. Climbing the tower involved hundreds of steps, but it was well worth it as it provided an amazing view of the city.
After the tower, our group headed to the York Castle Museum, but it was closing in 15 minutes so we left and walked down the river bank.
We then headed to meet the rest of our group at a local pub for our included dinner. The FA Cup Final between Crystal Palace & Manchester United was being played, so the place was pretty rowdy. Our main course was Yorkshire Pudding, so I was able to try it for the fist time. It was pretty good!
After dinner, we had a ghost tour of York. The city is apparently the most haunted place in the world, so we were treated to various stories of beheadings, torture and murder before hearing about how their ghosts still roam the city today. I went in skeptical and am still pretty skeptical, but our tour guide truly believed what he was telling us and claimed he saw ghosts first hand during one of his tours!
We then boarded our bus and headed for our hotel just outside Leeds.