Blog: A weekend in York

This weekend we had a little retreat to one of my favourite cities to visit, York. The city has such a long and fascinating history: stretching from the Roman to the Anglo-Saxon, through the Viking era to the Medieval times. It is certainly not the only city with such a patchwork heritage, but what I love about York is how you can see this timeline as you walk around its streets. Whether it’s turning a corner to find a Roman-era column, walking around the Norman motte of Clifford’s Tower, or winding your way down the Medieval Shambles, there’s so history to be explored. We definitely didn’t manage to see it all, but it was nevertheless a lovely way to spend a weekend.

On our first evening at York, we strolled the streets to get to know the city’s layout, and passed by some of the main landmarks, such as York Minster. I didn’t go inside, but was more than happy to admire its impressive architecture and sheer scale from the outside.

We only managed to walk a little stretch of the city walls, from Monk Bar to Bootham Bar, but it still gave us an impressive view of the Minster (see cover photo). We did have lunch at the little tower of Dyls Cafe Bar (not part of the ancient walls unfortunately, but a bridge motor house!)

The Roman column standing in Minster Yard, which was originally one of 36 that were part of a Roman Hall. It’s impressive to think what the scale of this hall must have been, but also impressive that one of the columns has survived, considering how built-up the city is around the Minster.

Breakfast at the Double Dutch Pancake House! A must to return to following a previous visit the last time I was in York. Very popular, though the wait in the queue made the tasty pancakes and warming hot chocolate all the sweeter!

Visiting the Viking Market was a must – I hadn’t realised our weekend away coincided with the Jorvik Viking Festival! It was difficult to take photos as it was so busy, but here are some runic pendants and an overview of the Scandinavian Futhark alphabet. I imagine most customers chose the rune which translates to their own initial, which is fair enough – but runes are different to our alphabet in that every ‘letter’ has a meaning. It’s a shame the meanings aren’t on display.

The Shambles. You can see why in the day (and even the night, with the many popular ghost tours) it is a tourist hotspot. The narrow cobbled streets, the crooked timbers, and overhanging jetties… it really transports your mind back in time. Walking the street at night really captured my imagination.

Sometimes the unplanned moments are some of the most magical. In the ten minutes before our dinner reservation, we swung by the Minster to catch a little of the light show, to see the cathedral lit up with ever-shifting projections. A choral soundscape accompanied the spectacle, and though we only stayed for a short while, it was very captivating.

Breakfast at Bettys! This really is an experience. I opted for a fairly light breakfast – just some cinnamon toast – but I tried a new tea blend (Ceylon Blue Sapphire) and treated myself to a delicious raspberry macaroon. We bought some of the tea as loose leaf, and some mini macaroons in a fancy box. It’s not something I do often, so I certainly made the most of it!

One thing that was on our to-do list, but that we were not able to do, was to visit the York Ghost Merchants. The last time I was in York, I breezed in and out of the shop as I browsed by way along the Shambles – this time, there was a 3-hour long queue! So we gave it a miss.

(Luckily I already have my little friend from my previous trip!) 🙂

We rounded off our trip with a visit to the National Railway Museum, before heading back home.

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