Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Remembering January - Part 3

Alright, I totally let my readers down (are you still out there!?) by promising a third installment of the "Remembering January" series and failing to deliver. Well, better late than never.

After three weeks in Leeds, I would finally be heading home on Sunday after the last week. This left me with a Saturday free to do something either in Leeds or somewhere nearby. I had been to York once before with a friend and wanted to go back. There is something special about traveling alone that provides a different perspective and an opportunity to explore on my own.

The train to York is quick, only about 20 minutes. I got on at the Leeds Station and then back off at the York Station. York is old! The railway station was built in 1839 but that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. This city was founded by the Romans in 71AD just 8 years before Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in ash. Some of the walls around York still incorporate bits of the old Roman fortifications.

Upon arriving, the sun was already on its way off stage. I wanted to take a walk around the wall, so I took the stairs up to the top of the wall and began my tour around. From the top of the wall, you can see the York Minster, a large Cathedral near the center of town. I decided I would make my way toward the Minster and snap some photos along the way.

Halfway toward the Minster, I got distracted by the Museum and the ruins of an old abbey on the museum grounds. This is the old Saint Mary's Abbey in York... the abbots were featured heavily in the medieval stories of Robin Hood. I wandered into the ruins.. ran my hands along the carved stones. Founded in 1055, William the Conquerer himself had been here, along with countless other ancestors of the English people. I had fanciful thoughts of my own ancestors helping to carve these stones, or visiting this abbey... or at least living in this country during that time. It gave me goosebumps, but I was thrilled to be able to walk around and touch something so old. Near the Abbey were the ruins of an old hospital and a crypt. Finally I continued on my way toward the Minster.

Once I got to the Minster I remembered (well, re-discovered) that they charge for entrance. That wasn't what I had in mind, so I left and decided to look around the actual city of York. I walked through the maze of medieval alleys and streets conatining shops and restaurants. It was stereotypically English in a lot of ways, but the commercial nature of it all lent an American feel. Also the mutiple Starbucks, Subway, Borders, and so on made me feel disappointingly at home. I wandered into a two story book shop to browse. I picked up a book about the battle of Hastings. By now the sun was pretty much down so I wandered over to the dramatically lit "Clifford's Tower" to get some photos there.

Finally I decided to head back to the station where I grabbed a cup of coffee and a ham sandwich to eat on the ride back to Leeds. Back in Leeds, I bought a half bottle of Shiraz at the Marks & Spencer and ordered another of those fantastic Box Pizza specials.

If you're ever in England, I do recommend seeing York.

1 comment:

Lynne Jordan said...

York sounds lovely - all those ancient ruins lying around - the spirit of The Roman Empire staining every wall... Never been to England which is amazing considering what an Anglophile I am... Lucky you!