These books are actually part of a large series, and I recommend them to anyone who is gearing up for a trip. It was concise, touched on all the major points of history, and was somewhat humorous.
According to the book, the monarchs either ruled from York, or London. It's not quite clear why they switched between the two, but both places were very important. When you look at a map of York today, it is quite small and reminds me of what the old London probably looked like. Once we visited there we learned that much of the existing architecture is actually a sham, meant to look medieval in order to attract tourists. The layout of the city is still medieval in design, I believe.
York was first established as a Roman settlement, called Eboracum, so it is quite old. Near the large York Minster was a Roman column, dating back to the early A.D's, and I took this picture of a woman just casually eating her sandwich at the base of the column. Is it just me, or does this not just blow your mind? Does she even realize she's sitting on a 2,000 year old piece of stone?!
Near York is a railway museum which Dad just could not resist, so while he was checking that out, Mom and I went on a walking tour. It was just us and our rather quirky tour guide. He has spent a large portion of his life in York, worked for the University for a time, and he was a librarian so he was really knows his stuff. He brought a large shoulder bag with him that was full of pictures, maps, coins and other random artifacts he has collected over the years that really made the tour interesting.
This ruined Abbey was the first site we visited. It has been used for many years as a stage for Passion Plays (they call them Mystery Plays). Judy Dench made her grande debut here!
Next he took us around the University, and through some buildings that used to be the home of Henry the VIII. This is Henry's toilet window:
The York Minster is huge and gothic and beautiful and, unfortunately, not at all as original as it looks. It caught fire a couple times, artwork was damaged over the years, the stained glass was removed and then put back in, etc... and every time it came time to restore it, historians and architects squabbled over how things should be put back (it seems pretty obvious to me. You put it back the way you found it, right?). Still, it is a beautiful building. Definitely one of my favorites.
He took us on a short tour through some of the "snickelways". They are itty-bitty alleyways connecting some of the larger streets.
I'm really not making the tour sound exciting, but truly it was one of my favorites. We didn't go to many sites, he mostly gave us a very thorough history of York. That's very difficult to convey in pictures. He ended the tour outside the Holy Trinity Church. The church has these very interesting boxes for pews, and the foundation was so uneven that the stone kind of rose and fell like waves.
We ate lunch in a little tea room/antique room. It was lovely, as always :) After lunch, we went on a quick boat tour of York. I think this may have been the highlight of the trip for Dad. The tour guide was hysterical. I really can't describe it, you just have to be there. I think it was the combination of the "Yahrk" accent with a very dry, sarcastic humor that made the whole thing hilarious. We have many memorable quotes from that tour guy.
Here's another castle in York that we visited. It's on the small side, and like 15 pounds to get in... but we enjoyed looking at the outside!
Then we visited The Shambles. York city center is really just a bunch of shops and snickelways, but the Shambles are different. They are especially small and curvy, and sometimes get so close together that people on the upper levels can reach out and touch the hands of the people on the opposite side. Also, this is probably my favorite picture of Mom and Dad from the whole trip.
Later we attended a lovely Evensong at the Minster. Honestly, I could have gone to an Evensong service every single day we were in England and never gotten tired of it. I. LOVE. EVENSONG.
For dinner we ate at Drakes, a popular pub that was recommended to us. Funny story: Dad asked the lady at the tea room earlier that day if she had any recommendations for a place to get good Fish & Chips, and she said, "You want to go to Drecks". Dad repeats, "Drecks?" "That's right, Drecks". It wasn't until we got there that we realized it's called "Drakes", and Dad had unknowingly been pronouncing it like a Brit hahaha.
To top off the evening we wandered about the city listening to the bells from the minster. Here's a video, and don't mind the shakiness (definitely need to work on my videography skills):
All in all, a very successful day in York. It was well worth the 3 hour detour to the north, and I would happily visit again!