My First Day in York
After a gorgeous early morning train ride from Edinburgh that, within 2 1/2 hours, took me along the coast to York I arrived at their classic rail station that is over 130 years old. Rather recent in historic terms for what I would soon discover York had to offer. I checked my google maps on my mobile and it told me my B&B was only a 20 minute walk away, so I set off to stretch my legs and made my way over a foot bridge to one of York’s main streets, Bootham, where I rang the bell to The Crescent Inn. I was greeted by the lovely and charming proprietor who welcomed me in and showed me to my room – on the TOP floor. It’s a good thing I was used to lugging my carry on up flights of stairs after 2 months of traveling with it. And so began my first day in York.
After settling in I quickly set off to explore. Wandering by old ruins, down its quiet streets I instantly felt at home in York, it had only happened a few times on my 3 month adventure, and quickly found My York. I popped into their tourist office, of which has won a ton of awards and is chalked full of information and great ladies to help you out, to pick up my press pack and sat outside going through it. WOW! I was blown away by the sheer volume of things to do, attractions and such that little ole York had to offer. I was invigorated to experience as much of what York had to offer in my four days and decided my first sight should be the iconic York Minster.
I’d seen plenty of churches, abbeys and cathedrals by the time I got to York but was still amazed by not only its sheer size but by all that it had to show. York Minster is so much more than a church, it’s a gallery, a museum and full of such history and beauty. From its stunning views over York, after a steep and narrow climb, to its underbelly where you can still witness the Roman ruins and learn of its over 1300 year history, York Minster is a must! If the price of £15, for combined minster and tower ticket, seems steep believe this budget travel when I say its worth it. But I do suggest you purchase a York Pass if you’re planning on visiting a few of York’s attractions to save big money, plus it comes with a free guidebook!
And as I always do in a new city I went in search of York’s charming bookshops. First up was Minster Gate Bookshop, with its seven rooms of varying shapes and sizes, a key list to where the various subjects can be found, hallways lined with books and bargain basement full of great finds for under £4. It was one of many great bookshops throughout York! If you’re a book lover like me be sure to pick up a pamphlet listing many of the bookshops.
With my belly rumbling I went in search of a lunch spot and decided on Michael’s Brasserie, near the Minster. It was a quaint place, I was sat by a classic fireplace and ordered coffee, which was decent for English standards, and had a delicious sandwich with fries for under £10. And with a full belly I headed down through York’s narrow streets and ended up at Clifford’s Tower perched on a green mound. Clifford’s Tower is pretty much all of what remains of York Castle, built by William the Conqueror in 1069. From its open-air top walk way you are awarded another fantastic view of York.
On my way back to York’s old, winding and famous streets, like the Shambles, I stumbled upon a grand building called the Fairfax House and found myself drawn within. An 18th century house, restored to its original grandeur that is now home to the famous chocolatier, Noel Terry’s collection of gorgeous Georgian furniture, with lovely volunteers who will tell you the tales of the stunning furniture pieces and the intriguing Fairfax family that once graced its halls.
And how does one wrap up a fantastic first day in York? Well, by going on a ghost tour of course! With a place steeped in such rich history of over 2,000 years you bet there are plenty of ghosts lingering within its walls. The first of many ghost walks I went on in York was The Original Ghost Tour. A large group gathered outside the Kings Arms Pub and just as the clock struck 8pm on that chilled night in July our guide appeared from the pub with his dark features, black cloak, strangely carved walking stick yet striking clear blue eyes he lead us away and on a wander through the streets of York and told us some of its haunted tales. From Georgie Porgie, who haunts the pub across the river to the tall, thin man who haunts Castle Gate House and the famous story of the Roman soldier ghosts on horse back near York Minster, he wasn’t in need of dramatics, he knew the art of story telling and his ghost stories held their own.
I realized that even with its 200,000 people York had a distinct small town vibe, where its shopkeepers remember you when you return the next day, where the streets are quiet after dark but there is a distinct quirky aurora – perhaps it’s due to its varied past – that lingers in its streets and ginnels (alleyways) and in the heart of Old York. But truth is, I fell in love on my first day in York!
I was a guest of Visit York but all options are my own.