Monday, October 23, 2006

The Stories: York

York was one of my favorite spots of the trip. Not because they had figured out elevators or ramps at the train station (@#%#@% stairs) or because top sheets or face cloths magically appeared (they didn't). For once we had enough time to enjoy something. We took the train to York, had lunch at the station and then found where we were staying (without getting lost - whoo hoo!) and were able to enjoy the rest of the day without carrying around luggage (or dragging it down cobblestone streets). What a relief!

We made our way down to the historic area of town (which is just a pedestrian zone, which made my chances of looking the wrong way for traffic go down significantly) and enjoyed the little shops and scenic streets. One of these shops warrants a mention above the others. It was a sword store. With swords made to look like Lord of the Rings swords, etc. And there were signs inviting you to take them off the wall and play with them. Yes, for real. It was a man toy store. All it needed was computer gadgets. I think I must have convinced Stork that there was no way we'd get any of it through security, because we left without making any purchases. Actually, I ran out when I saw a sword called a "Man Cleaver" and felt really sick. Stork made a more leisurely exit.

After picking up some much needed souvenirs for family, we arrived at York Cathedral. Finally a Cathedral that allowed photography! We explored it for quite a while (and I took an insane number of pictures) and then moved on to walk the city walls. What a cool experience to walk around the outside of a city and look down on things. We saw the Cathedral from different angles and got to see into people's back yards. The whole thing was very cool. Not a whole lot of walled cities in North America (yes, I have been to Quebec City).

Next we went off in search of St. Mary's Abbey. In the tourist book it said it was the ruins of an old abbey. Now, one of my top priorities on the trip was seeing ruins. My tourist guide had the following words highlighted throughout "ruins", "castle", "shopping" and "cheap". But, up to this point we hadn't seen any ruins. We went to the place the guide book said and it was an older building, but nothing that would qualify as ruins. Stork tried to make me feel better by pointing out a crumbling piece of wall. We continued walking around the building and BAM, there were the ruins I had been looking for.

In my usual elegant and sophisticated way, I yelled "RUINS" and set off at a run. Cuz, they only been there a couple of hundred years and will likely disappear in the next 2 minutes.

Again, copious pictures were taken. I actually climbed up on part of the ruins, which was cool. I've later heard that I stretched Stork's patience with my picture taking at this spot, but he was a good sport. Maybe because I hung out while he played with swords earlier.

Finally, I dragged myself away from my beloved ruins and we hurried back to the Cathedral for Evensong. The ceremony itself was very pretty - beautiful choir, beautiful setting. But, it was somehow very uncomfortable for me. Here I was in a church, reading scripture and many other things that seemed the same as usual, and yet I felt like I didn't belong. Everything felt completely empty for me and all for show. Completely dry. It was disturbing.

After leaving Evensong we went to Betty's for cream tea. Now, next to ruins, I think cream tea was highest on my list of things to do in England. Betty's was amazing and I finally got to try clotted cream, which is amazing! Stork was a good sport being dragged along to such an estrogen rich environment (complete with a piano player playing show tunes).

After Betty's we walked around some more (and even managed to get lost - whoo hoo!). We headed back to the Cathedral for some night time photography. Got some cool and spooky pictures. They'll be posted eventually.

On our way back to the hostel we stopped at a little pub by the river for beer and crisps to finish out the evening.

It was such a relaxing day and full of so many things that I really wanted to do while in England. I highly recommend York to anyone going to England.

Next - the Northumbria community


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