Friday, November 11, 2011

Olde York. Pictures, history, and adventure.

The first time I went to York, England, I was living in New York. The connection didn't occur to me until I got home, but I think that's because I'd always thought of New York as NYC or Manhattan. No one ever actually wrote out "York," and it certainly doesn't sound English. In fact, it comes from the Viking community that was once settled there, Jorvik. (And there's your know-it-all trivia of the day).

David and I went to Olde York (just called "York") about two weeks ago. It's about the most charming little English town a tourist could want to visit. Complete with what's called the most well-preserved medieval street in all of Europe, the city centre oozes Tudors and cobblestones, markets and tea houses. It winds around itself, pretending to be on a grid system, but really just spreading outwards towards the town walls -- yes, walls.

Dating as far back as Roman times, the walls manage to be both imposing and inviting. We frolicked along them one morning, pretending to be guarding the villagers. David shot a few invaders with his invisible spears, while I missed all my targets, even in my imagination.

We stayed with a super-smart, super-nice man we met on the Internet. (I threw that bit in there just to freak out my blog-following family members, but it also happens to be the truth.) He opened his home to us, showed us the best curry restaurant in town, where we talked about rugby, physics, and music. After dinner, we all went on an adult pub crawl. By "adult" pub crawl, I don't mean that we saw naked ladies. I mean we went to two pubs, then crawled home before midnight.

The next day we explored the Old City, popping in and out of shops, buying cupcakes from Boy Scouts, strolling hand-in-hand past Roman ruins and farmers' markets. An old blind gentleman shared some town history with us, then told me I was "pretty and well-dressed." This still pleased me despite his obvious lack of, well, sight.

York also happens to be home to an absolutely enormous Gothic Cathedral, York Minster. I can't express to you just how huge this thing is. I mean, I've seen some churches during my travels, but this one spanned several city blocks and -- like most of the others -- was about a thousand years old (though it's been suggested a church of some sort was on the site for about two thousand years). Mystifying. Also fascinating is that the site of this cathedral is where the Roman Constantine was crowned Emperor of the Roman empire.

I'll say that again: The Roman Empire. Sorry, but I think that's what I love most about travel. I think it's absolutely amazing to walk the same footsteps as these huge figures of history, or to see the same hills and streets that famous authors, composers, or even unknown peasants and soldiers saw. The history here is just mindblowing.

Enough awe. Enjoy some pictures.

David is about to fall off the walls!

The Walls and Me.

The Shambles!

David and an important corpse:

And for Lyzz, Colleen, and my parents... Clifford's Tower!

Thanks for reading. Where should we go next?

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