We arrived in York in the afternoon and got a quick tour of the city. As we walked through the streets I was struck by how narrow they were – just wide enough for a single car to drive and barely wide enough for people to fill the sidewalks 2 abreast. Buildings, although small, generally 2 or 3 floors high, felt big on the narrow street. I felt a little bit like I was on the set of a movie, where the buildings are made smaller so the actors look bigger. And they were all crooked, really crooked – a carpenters nightmare. Hundreds of years of buildings settling had taken their toll, and on this narrow street it felt charming, that old world charm that you expect when you visit England. I felt like I was in England of my imagination. The buildings were like Nestle Toll House buildings, white with wood trim, a cute little door in the middle.
After a few blocks we exited the narrow little streets to a large open area with a giant building: York Minster. Compared to the small streets and quaint buildings, York Minster was a giant. York Minster is actually one of the largest gothic cathedrals in all of Europe, but it felt like the biggest one after meandering through the narrow streets of York. It was sandy colored, not like white sand, but like the sand we have on Long Island with a bit of yellow and brown to it, not a lot of yellow and brown though, that would be ugly and this building was not ugly. To the left were the towers, which tower over the city. This side of the building had buttresses and was covered in lancet windows filled with Stained Glass.
We ventured inside, but because it was late there was little time to explore the splendor. In fact it was so late that we could not go to the top of tower for views of the city. It was time for plan B – shop! Shop in all the cute little shops that lined the narrow streets of York – candy shops, clothing shops, liquor shops, pet stores, a pound store (like dollar stores), and of course a Starbucks. I’m not a Starbucks fan, but this Starbucks was a bit of a god send – it had a bathroom and wifi. This city might have made us feel like we were living a couple hundred years in the past, but I had emails I had written to my family on my iphone that were waiting to be sent and the answer came from a 20th Century coffee shop tucked into a Yorkshire building.
Having missed going to the top of York Minster there were actually two plan B’s. One was shopping, which did yield me some lovely fudge. The other was to go to the top of Clifford’s Tower, seated on a small hill in another part of town. On the way we made a fatal error, using the bathroom. Actually, for most people this was a good move, they used the bathroom and made it to Clifford’s Tower. I however used the bathroom and was locked out of Clifford’s Tower, and also had to wait there another 30 minutes until our tours meeting time. I made good use of the time, I climbed around Clifford’s Tower for photos of the city. You’re not supposed to do that, but darn it, I had already climbed to the top and I wanted pictures of this wonderful city!
That night we had dinner in a pub, complete with Yorkshire Pudding. Then we took our ghost tour of York, which you can read about here. It was a perfect ending to a perfect visit in one of my favorite cities in all on England.