Since I started blogging, my sources of travel information have considerably changed. Whilst I won’t deny that the ripe old Lonely Planet and the gravitational Trip Advisor still play a role in many of my travel exploits, I now gain much greater pleasure from those nuggets of wisdom shared by all of you. Some of your “48 hours in…” guides have all but done my entire holiday research for me and so many of you have honed down the skill of hopping around a new city in just one day.
An Afternoon in York
But sometimes, we don’t have 48 hours, we don’t have one day, we perhaps don’t even have half a day. I rarely see blog posts covering how to see a place in just a few hours but our trip to York last month was sandwiched between a morning in Durham and a final arrival destination of our comfy new mattress in London so we got our efficiency hats on and made the best of our 4 hours in York.
If you find yourself in the same boat with only an afternoon to spare there, I hope this whistle-stop tour around the quaint medieval city of York might prove helpful.
Climb Clifford’s Tower
If you have climbed the Coliseum in Rome or the Duomo in Florence, the handful of steps at Clifford’s Tower will seem easy in comparison.
Like most ancient forts and castles, the staircases are not suitable for claustrophobes but fortunately, you don’t have to conquer too many of them before you reach the vantage point at the top, which offers panoramic views across York.
There is a small fee for climbing the tower but if the weather is on your side, it is certainly worth the ascent.
Some would say the famous York Minster Cathedral is by far the most popular and renowned attraction in the city. I must confess that whilst we gawked in awe at the Gothic exteriors, we ultimately ended up opting out of exploring the inside.
We had already spent the morning browsing Durham Cathedral and we knew we would only have enough time to either see the interior of York Minster or a museum we had our eye on (read on to find out which one) so something had to give.
The entry ticket for visiting the York Minster is on the more costly end of the spectrum at £15 per adult (find the price list here) but given that the maintenance of the property can cost thousands of pounds daily, the money does go towards upkeep of this stunning building.
I am told by all those who have been before me that the interiors are spectacular and although we had a little glimpse from the entrance, I would definitely take a proper look inside if I ever return to York.
Walk through the Shambles
I love the fact that York is home to a street whose crooked and uneven imperfection has resulted in its perfectly quaint cult status.
The Shambles is consistently name-checked as one of Britain’s prettiest streets with the fifteenth century buildings on either side of the road leaning in flirtatiously, the rooves so close they are virtually caressing each other. Of all the places in York we visited, the Shambles easily had the most dense proportion of keen photographers and given its well-preserved Medieval charm, it was not hard to see why.
If you can peel your eyes away from the architecture and the retro signs, spend a few moments browsing in and out of the independent shops, quirky, endearing tea rooms and watch your will power crumble away when the aroma of the freshly made fudge consumes the pores of this narrow street.
Eat Gourmet Fudge and Chocolate
I introduced this post by saying how much I enjoy hearing pearls of travel wisdom from fellow bloggers and it was thanks to Adventures of a London Kiwi that I was given this particular tip-off.
I was snugly under the duvet in a cosy Durham pub hotel, when she spotted one of my tweets and told me that I must not miss out on a visit to Fudge Kitchen in York (the chocolate orange flavour is a bit heavenly) but I saw and raised by also visiting the newer Roly s Fudge Parlour, where we stepped in just as a new batch of fudge was being made.
If you have more time than we did and the fudge shops haven’t quite curbed your sugar cravings, then either experience the quaint magic of an old-fashioned English sweet shop or make your way over to York Chocolate Story for a decadent hot chocolate in the chocolate bar cafe or a guided tour of the chocolate factory and find out just why York is such a significant place when tracing the history of chocolate in the UK.
The National Railway Museum, York
Our most unexpected pleasant surprise of our time in York came with an end of the day visit to The National Railway Museum. I have never really considered myself to be a motoring or railway aficionado but with last week’s post about Havana’s vintage cars and the enthused ranting you’re about to read about the railway museum, I am starting to wonder if a tide has turned and made a transport geek out of me 😀
A little tip for those of you who can be flexible with your travelling, arriving late in the day on a weekday was a very fortunate bit of chance, as it meant we had almost the entire museum to ourselves and were able to beat the crowds (or rather, they had beaten us but the net result was the same!)
Full of genuine old trains in a huge open space, we saw everything from royal trains to old steam trains to parcel delivery trains.
And we even saw some of the old parcels they were carrying.
We had fun climbing into some of them and getting a taste to what it must have been like to get on board these trains at a time when they were considered such innovative, exciting scientific accomplishments.
And as two Londoners who have spent far too much of their collective time standing on crowded London trains, it was nice to have a whole carriage to yourself and to actually get a seat!
The museum even has its own dining car restaurant but as we had arrived so late in the day, they were setting up for a private event.
And we became nostalgic and patriotic when looking at old signs that used to be found at train stations, Pumpkin taking a particular shining to the Yarmouth memorabilia, a part of the country that conjures up so many nostalgic, childhood memories for him.
Whilst I would have loved to have spent another day or night in York, hopefully this post has proved how many of its highlights you can capture even if you fancy an afternoon out in this beautiful medieval city.
Have you ever visited York? What would you add to this list?