Today I left the beautiful city of Bath bright and early to start my journey north to York. The drive wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Out of the 4 hour drive only about 30 minutes of it was through small back town roads while the majority of it was highway. As I left super early I started feeling super tired and had to try and figure out where to stop and get something to wake me up. Apparently in England they have these stops called "Services." Basically its like a rest area stop but has gas stations, food, bathrooms, and a multitude of other stuff. I couldn't find any energy shots (maybe just a US thing) but did buy a Red Bull and decided to try my first coffee EVER!!! I got a Vanilla Latte from an automatic machine and added a couple of sweeteners to it. Have to say it wasn't too bad and it sure did wake me up for the rest of the drive. Didn't even need the Red Bull after all. Then it was back on the highway to enjoy beautiful green landscapes till I reached York.
I would say the coolest thing about York is still seeing the Castle Walls all around the main city and of course the massive Gothic Cathedral of York Minster. My hotel is actually located right across the street from the York Castle. I quickly dropped my bags off and headed out to explore the city.
First stop was clearly York Castle as it was right across the street. York Castle was built on orders from William I, aka William the Conqueror, to dominate the former Viking city of York. The hill is also one of two left in the town from that era. You are able to go to the top of the Castle and have great views of the entire city. Across the street they also have the Castle Museum that used to be a prison if you want to view as well. I decided to opt out as there was so much more to see before everything shuts down at 5 pm. Speaking of time, I don't think I've mentioned the fact that the sun rises here before 7am and doesn't set till 9pm. However, everything shuts down at 5pm. It's kind of crazy cause you're wide awake till late with not much to do but eat or drink. I guess that's why there are so many pubs in England. :-)
The other thing I haven't mentioned is the HEAT. Yes, I know I'm from Florida where it gets up to 99/100 but, for some reason in the past 2 days England has had record breaking temps. For example today was 26C, which is basically 81F. At no point when I was packing for this trip did I ever imagine it would get this hot. In fact it said the highest it would get was 65F. So I've been creatively trying to figure out how not to die in the heat as I brought mainly cold weather clothing and for some reason 75/80F here in England feels like 100!
Anyway, back to York. After the Castle I decided to jump on another hop on hop off bus to tour the whole city. These really are the best deals in town. You get a full view of a city, hear a ton of history, decide what you want to see, and its basically free transportation for the next 24 hours. After riding around and seeing all the great medieval buildings, Georgian era buildings, and Roman buildings. I decided to jump off at the Shambles.
The Shambles is York's most famous street, lined with timber-framed buildings so close together. They say that in olden days people could reach out from one building and hug their neighbors in the building across the way as they were so close. There are tons of shops and food places in the Shambles now including an open air market. I was able to grab some yummy food (Elk burger) while continuing to explore the city.
At this point I just decided to explore the city and walk through all the different alleyways and streets and just enjoy the views. I eventually made my way over to York Minster and of course went in for a quick peak. Tomorrow morning I will spend the whole morning exploring York Minster and going up in the tower and down below the cathedral, so I will save pictures of that for tomorrow.
From here I walked over to the City Wall to take pictures of the original gates. I noticed there were stairs going up by the City Wall and decided to see where they took you. Well they actually take you up to the City Walls were you can walk along the walls just as the soldiers used to. It was so cool looking out over the 800 year old city walls. I also realized that I'm a little too short to see out of some of the peep holes as well.
After walking both sides of the wall it was just about time to head back to the hotel as everything was starting to shut down. I'm doing this entry early as tonight I'm going to go on a Ghost Walking Tour of the city. York is considered to be one of the world’s most haunted cities. There are an estimated 500 ghosts in the city, including those of Roman soldiers. So of course I can't pass up an opportunity to encounter a ghost sighting! Have a great night folks!