Friday, 10 October 2014

York in a Nutshell

Our anniversary trip to York could not have come at a better time as my new job has been quite demanding and sometimes stressful. We gave ourselves from Sunday morning until Tuesday evening to make sure we got the most out of the city. We didn't have to rush, and staying at the beginning of the week meant things were a lot less crowded and we didn't have to queue for the main attractions.



One thing I will say is that most museums and attractions charge a fair amount for entry. We paid anything between £4-10 each for things like castle towers, the Yorvik Centre, York Minster etc. Some things were better value than others. Luckily we got our train tickets fairly cheap due to booking in advance, and there is a lovely new Travelodge on Picadilly very close to the centre of York so we saved on that side of things!

Dining


We ate a cheap and cheerful breakfast at Wetherspoon's each morning as it was literally attached to our hotel, but opted to indulge a little more where lunch and dinner were concerned. On the first night we chose the Hollywood Bar and Grill on a whim and were not disappointed! A fairly priced menu, yummy food and funky cocktails helped us gear up for our ghost walk. The second night we ate at The Golden Fleece, the most haunted pub in York. Our meals were hearty and huge even if the place did give me the heebie jeebies a bit!


A trip to York is also not complete without a trip to Betty's Tea Rooms. It's pricey and a little snobby as it's a 'phone free zone' but we just couldn't resist! Another hotspot is the Trembling Madness off-licence, which boasts a truly hipster-worthy pub upstairs. The Shambles Kitchen also do some kick-ass pulled pork rolls that carry less guilt than a giant Yorkshire pudding.

Shopping

York boasts a great mixture of highstreet, designer and boutique shops, and while they were by no means the centre of our trip we definitely enjoyed exploring.



My absolute favourite store was The Imaginarium, a crazy trinket and home store with faux stuffed animals, bizzare portraits and amazing scented goodies. We took home this Autumn scented Melt candle and dang is it good. The shop was an offshoot of it's neighbouring parent store, the Yorkshire Soap Company. Think Lush but quintessentially British. 

Sights

A little bit of tourism never hurt anybody, and having never visited another British city for fun apart from London I was keen to explore. The city is enclosed within an ancient wall first built by the Romans, and the buildings are a hodgepodge of ancient, Tudor, Victorian and modern architecture. The result looks pretty impressive and a stroll across the city walls is not only a must but totally free of charge. You can also walk up The Shambles, the oldest shopping street in Europe, which was probably JK Rowling's inspiration for Diagon Alley.


I can also thoroughly recommend a walk around York Minster - the place is huge and absolutely beautiful. We spent about two and a half hours here while the rain came down.in sheets. The Yorvik Centre was a short experience so a little disappointing, but still one to tick off the list!



Two free attractions I would highly recommend are the castle gardens, home to the very creepy remains of St Mary's Abbey, and the National Railway Museum, which is impressively huge and surprisingly interesting.

The Ghost Walk



By far the coolest thing we did on the trip was a ghost walk. There are loads run by different operators around the city but we were recommended the original and best. Our ghost hunt guide meets the public every night at the top of the Shambles for 7.30pm and the tour lasts about an hour and a half. He never leaves character and operates come rain or shine which is pretty impressive! It was more hilarious than scary thanks to his little jokes and tricks, but the stories told are all bonafide York ghost legends and as the most haunted city in the country you can't help but get sucked in!

If you're looking for a traditional city break that won't break the bank as much as Paris or Rome but packs in character and style, York should be at the top of your list!
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