A couple of months ago, Josh and I went on a fairly impromptu trip to York. I've not actually seen much of England outside London, so it was nice to play tourist for a couple of days. It only takes a couple of hours on the train from Edinburgh, so after a fairly stressful week at work (we went just before the Festival started!) I packed my bags and headed off on a sunny day.
Here's what we got up to...
WHERE WE STAYED...
I'd been invited to stay with a well-known hotel chain (hence the impromptu trip), so I confirmed everything, booked my (non-refundable!) train tickets and time off work. Then it turned out just a few days before we went (!) that we couldn't actually get booked into a York hotel. And everywhere in York was booked. And expensive. Like the non-refundable train tickets I had booked. Thanks PR!
So, after a fairly stressful day of trying to work out what to do, we decided to reclaim our holiday from being just a blogging trip, and booked a room at the very beautiful Hotel du Vin. This hotel was gorgeous - it's tucked away just down from the walls of the city, in a Grade II-listed mansion house.
My favourite bit was the absolutely massive bath - I even took some lush bathbombs for the occasion (I don't have a bath in my flat, so this was a total treat). It was expensive (particularly as I had not budgeted for a holiday, aaaargh), but it was an absolutely lovely place to stay and I'd definitely recommend it if you are feeling flush!
WHAT WE DID...
York is a beautiful city, so it was nice just to wander around its cobbled streets. We made a beeline straight for The Shamble, Europe's best preserved Medieval street, which is lined with 15th century buildings that lean over and almost touch in the middle. We also explored around the walls of the city (which has such nice views!) and took a look at York Castle and York Minster (although were too cheap to actually pay to enter them!
We did pay to go to the Jorvik Viking Centre, which is built on the site of the Viking-age city, Jorvik, and packed full of cool archaeology things (and a fairly hilarious/terrifying animatronic ride through a Viking village), and to visit the Treasurer's House, a house very close to York Minster with a 2,000 year history. The owner (a rich bachelor with an eye for pretty things) packed it with the most amazing antique furniture, ceramics and art, then gave it up to the National Trust, who have looked after it ever since. He has a mirror that is held up by a GIANT GOLD EAGLE. Definitely worth a visit!
Finally, we went to the (free!) National Railway Museum to look at giant trains. I wouldn't say I was the most enthusiastic person about rail transport, but it was actually really fascinating, and we got to have drinks in a fancy 19th century railway carriage, and watch a massive train spin round.
WHAT WE ATE...
If I'm honest, the majority of our trip revolved around food and drink. My favourite place was the House of Trembling Madness, an incredibly atmospheric medieval bar with stuffed animal heads lining the walls. It's in the Shambles and could easily be missed - you enter through a shop that is packed with different types of beer, wine and spirits, and go up a tiny set of stairs. We ordered Shambles sausages and mash and a platter board, and it was cheap and tasty.
York is full of amazing-looking restaurants, but they were all booked in advance! If you're planning a trip, it's definitely worth getting yourself a reservation early... I reckon we had to phone about six places before we booked in for dinner at the Walmgate Ale House, which was nice traditional food, but nothing particularly special. We lucked out with an amazing brunch at a traditional cafe near York Minster (I'm pretty sure it was Betty's Tea Rooms), and found loads of nice little pubs to stop at for a sunny beer garden pint or a Sunday roast.
And that was York! The accommodation was pricey (but so good), and there were more loud students than I expected, but it's a beautiful place and well worth a weekend visit. Now I think Brighton's next on my list... I want to see the Pier!