York is a fantastic city to visit, and we were excited for our first trip there this past weekend. It was the Jorvik Viking festival in a very historic city, and of course Valentines Day, which made it difficult to find dinner reservations. We found a delicious Italian place, DelRios, on Friday night. It gave us a reason to wander the city a bit, but we found that most bars, except for late night clubs closed at 11.
While we did not make it to the Jorvik Viking Centre itself, we did make it to the Viking encampments around the city.
There were mock battles staged and entertaining facts about weaponry, cooking and Viking sagas. You could try on costumes for photos and watch reenactments. I think we made a mistake of going the first of the two weekends since the festival was still being set up on Sunday. The twelfth century market was to take place the following weekend as well.
We wandered through the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey (probably much more pleasant in the summer). It has a similar feel to other ruined abbeys we have been to, but the park is interesting (and free) and has ruins with stones from the Roman and Medieval periods, and it is interesting to compare the methods of construction and styles of architecture.
The weather was a bit overcast, so my shots of the York Minster don’t do it justice. It is one of the largest and most northern Gothic cathedrals, and a very impressive sight. I would eventually like to do a tour of the inside but we didn’t have enough time this trip.
The National Railway museum is one of the best attractions in the city. And it is free! You are highly encouraged/guilted into donating though. Here, you can see the train carriages used by various royalty, they are ornate and often a bit ridiculous (really, who needs a bathtub on a train!?). Additionally, there trains and paraphernalia from around the world, including bullet trains, impressive train models and various train furniture. There are exhibits on train spotting and demonstrations on signaling. If you like trains a lot, you need to see this, but even if you aren’t train obsessed, it really is interesting.
Another must do is the 3 or so mile walk walk around the city. The entire city is contained within 3 or so miles of medieval walls that you can walk along the top of. Several towers have museums, and it’s a great way to get your bearings and see much of the city
Wandering through the shambles and the ginnals and snickets is fun as well. The shambles are medieval buildings that lean out across the street to maximize floor space and minimize the taxes that were charged based on ground footprint.
We had a great time in York, and enjoyed delicious food and a lot of history, I’m sure we will be back for more sightseeing and wandering.