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Its got to be old York, old York!
York in General
Member Name: yabbadabbadoo
York in General
Date: 23/04/10, updated on 08/02/11 (186 review reads)
Advantages: So much to see and do, a real family day out
Disadvantages: Some attractions over rated , Blockbuster failure...
Now, over the years I've spent many a happy time in the grand old and glorious city of York. Easily accessible on the East Coast Mainline that runs from London to Edinburgh or by road from the A1, within easy reach of the cities of Newcastle and Leeds, Yorkshire's finest tourist destination offers great variety and is bursting with charm and character.
From those fondest early childhood memories of scampering around the olde worlde everyday exhibits in the never ending Castle Museum, to discovering my Viking roots rampaging along the city walls.
No question, York is my kind of town!
Let's start this whistle stop tour with something a little hot and steamy.
Why York's only the home of the National Railway museum, and gadzookingtons it's now free admission!
A short walk down from the main railway station, here you'll find over 300 years of locomotive history lovingly preserved, including all the famous names like the Flying Scotsman or the Mallard the fastest steam train in the world no less, right through to modern times with the mega fast Japanese Bullet trains.
At the works you can play at being a signal man or lady, there's a great outdoor play area, and lots of other interactive exhibitions to explore. Throughout the year there are a number of special weekends running, which you do have to pay for but in my experience are well worth the money. We took our little man to a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend and it was just fantastic, seeing all his favourites brought to life on special train rides, with loads of fun activities going on all day long.
If on the other hand you prefer your transport to be at a more leisurely pace, you are also in luck. The river Ouse runs right through the city (and has been known to cause significant flood damage to many of York's treasures in recent years.
As a result there are no shortage of river cruise options and even rowing boats for the more intrepid adventurers out there.
If you like a little more cultural refinement and splendour, then you could do worse than head for the utterly mesmerising and tranquil delights of York Minster. These days there is a small entrance fee to pay, but when you consider the astronomical upkeep costs for a place like this and the breathtaking scale and majesty of the place, in my book its well worth the money.
You find yourself instantly drawn to the magnificent 14th and 15th Century Glass displays all around, constantly intrigued by the memorials and statues that line the outer walls.
Around Christmas time, you may even be lucky enough to be there while there are services in place - now that is magical.
~~~~Memory Lane Museum~~~~
Now if like me you are still a big kid at heart, and like to recapture some of those magic moments, have I got the place for you.
The Castle museum is perhaps one of the best examples of every day life museums in Britain today. The numerous exhibitions, the authentic Victorian streets and shops, the Dick Whittington dungeons. From Cradle to grave gives you a fascinating insight into the changing nature of the ceremonies and traditions associated with birth, marriages and death over the last 100 years or so.
Plus in the summer months they often have shows and activities throughout the day. Every time I've been I've discovered something different, it really is a special place.
As for the original castle itself, there's really not much left to be fair. Still standing on the site is Cliffords tower (but be aware it is a steep set of stairs to get up there) which is a separately run English Heritage attraction,
There are a few other notable museums in York, including the Yorkshire Museum, and the Jorvik museum. Although the Jorvik does feature a very detailed, lifelike recreation of Viking existence, for me it is still over priced for what you get. Essentially it's a wagon ride, plus a few exhibitions including all the thrills and spills of authentically recreated Viking poo, but in the end there's really not all that much you can go and explore.
If you are feeling energetic, you can walk the walls for most of the way round the city. Just keep a close watch on those over exuberant toddlers though!
~~~~Diagon Alley - eat your heart out!~~~~
Fans of Harry Potter take note. Certainly one of the most famous historic shopping streets in the land, the iconic narrow old street known simply as The Shambles offers a rich array of exciting arts and craft and mystical shops.
From the sweet-toothed to the tea room junkie, from the casual browser to the most fervent of collectors, there is a curiosity or two for everyone here, so long as you watch your step.
Those cobbles can play havoc with the ankles!
~~~~The Yorkie Bars (and tea rooms) are on me~~~~
York has also had a long association with the chocolate industry, thanks to both Terry's and Rowntrees chocolate factories being based in the city.
Also there's a fantastic 10 day annual food and drink festival in September each year. The stalls in the central square are not to be missed.
Down one of the main thorough fares that takes you from Betty's down towards the Shambles, there's a big wooden sign hung between the shops "Ye olde starre Inn" pointing to another side alley.
Although there are many other great eating pubs like the "Three Tuns" in and around the centre, this one has become a regular stop off for us.
It's full of atmosphere and also kid-friendly. There's a hot food desk where the waft of hot steak pies and other home cooked fineries is constantly enticing.
Just along the way, you'll find the famous Betty's team rooms, and typically speaking you'll be able to tell when you are close simply by the huge queue of people snaking out of the door.
Betty's was founded by a Swiss lady, who combined the best of traditional swiss "cakery" with some classic english tea time service, to create the perfect recipe for afternoon indulgence.
Yes it's pricey for a pair of crumpets, but when they are dripping in hot butter, and served with a silver salver and a steaming hot chocolate, just , you try and resist!
Dear reader, I feel I must share two more of the reasons why York will always have a special place in my heart. Back in 1989, I entered an eliminator competition at our 6th form college, and being a supercalifragilistic sort of a swat, I managed to make it to the final 6. Our reward was an interview in historic York to fight for the chance to make it onto the very essence of student quiz programming - Blockbusters.
Sadly Paul in York gave battle in vain, perhaps the world wasn't quite ready for me on the TV screens, or my constant lamenting that big bad Bob Holness hadn't come along in person , or maybe just the fact that I didn't get enough questions right -but whichever my dreams of a gold run came to an end right there and then.
But this is my story, my fairytale and from a scene of great personal disappointment, I emerged to return but a few months later on a golden run of my own.
After training long and hard up and down hills on a lunchtime, me and me pal who's surname was Hind (another golden connection) trampled our way all the way round the city from race course to castle courtyards to complete my first ever half-marathon.
What's more I even outrun the incredible athletic ensemble representing Betty's tea room.
Ahh the memories!.
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