Old York, Old York!!

Disclaimer  – I visited York a few months ago but hadn’t posted about the city.  

You’d be forgiven in thinking I had mistyped New York, however I am talking about the original gangster, the city of York which the newer American city was named after.

I set off early on the train thinking it would take me at least an hour or so to get there, however 20-30 minutes later I had arrived at one of the first railway stations in the country and after passing through the gates the town was transformed into what I can only describe as a portal where the lines of past and present are blurred.  One of the oldest cities in the United Kingdom it may be small but its well packed with things to see and do.  If you’re a bit of a history geek like me, you will need a few days – a week to really see it all.

Let’s get started shall we? I started at the Wall, and followed it a short distance towards the River Ouse which I recognised immediately from a music video by one of my favourite bands The Blue Dawns I found a map which was to direct me to The Yorkshire Museum so off I went.  I passed a giant (for its time) tower, which I have since learnt is the Multangular Tower originally part of a fortress and built in the 3rd Century by the Romans.  Yep, everything in this city is ancient!

I wandered into the Museum and saw artifacts from the city which started during early Paleolithic times, to Roman, to Medieval and to recent history.  This was an educational Museum with so much to take in, I was happy and surprised to see there was a life sized mural of a Moa, and a mounted Kiwi.  A little slice of home in York.  The Museum also held a significant collection from Richard III, an incredible “ivory bangle lady” and real swords! After a good look at all the displays, I headed outside and into the Museum Gardens, out of the corner of my eye I saw something darting across the lawn… YES! I had just spotted my first squirrel in the UK… finally!! There were so many of them, chasing and playing with pigeons, collecting acorns and generally posing as they’re quite tame due to tourists feeding them no doubt.

I left and walked through into the town, past Betty’s Tea rooms infamous for it’s award winning treats, however the queue to get in was quite long and I didn’t think it would have been a very fun place to go on my own so gave it a miss (this time).  I continued towards the York Castle Museum for my second taste of history for the day.  I admit it is a little overwhelming to fill your brain with so much information but luckily this place was more of a visual museum.  Containing street scenes and displays which you don’t really need to read to take in.  You can see creative displays of Woman’s history, the Streets of York which have a timer set from day to night and noises to go along with it.  Even one of the employees wandering the “street” in full Victorian Garb singing songs from the time.  He didn’t leave character once, great effort.  As you walked the street scene became more recent in times, directing you out through the doors to the recreation area of the Castle Prison.  The Prison once home to countless inhabitants waiting to be shipped to Australia for the rest of their lives.  This included one of the most famous highway men, Dick Turpin.  Back into the museum we enter the prison cells, which is dark, small and not welcoming at all, exactly what you want for a prison cell.  Sometimes up to 15 people crammed into a cell at one time, there was disease, violence and death before they even got on board to Australia.

Time to leave, it was getting late and I needed to catch the train home.  I have purposely left a lot of what York has to offer out as I will be coming back time and time again.  Being so close I am spoilt for choice.  I highly recommend York, there’s a bit of walking as the town isn’t really car friendly. But you can rent bikes and ride around if that’s more your thing.  I feel this town would be spectacular in all seasons, however the stone footpaths and cobblestoned roads might make it a bit slippery in winter.

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The River Ouse
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Ruins of St Mary’s Abbey
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Kiwi with a Kiwi
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Betty’s tea rooms
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Cliffords Tower
Cruel message to set the theme of the prison
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Walk through Micklegate – it was once adorned by the heads of traitors… like William Wallace

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