Wednesday, June 29, 2011

York, England

Just a little more of that left-hand driving!  We left Scotland and headed south into England.  We went first to Newcastle.

One of the fun things about traveling is the people that you meet.  Well, most of them, anyway.  Les and Pat Wilde were staying at Les Volets Bleus, a b&b in Sallèles-d'Aude in southern France.  Delightful people, who live in Gateshead which is just by Newcastle.   It was nice to see them again and to spend a very rainy day with them.  Undaunted by rain, we all went off to Durham where we went through the famous cathedral and walked around a bit of the picturesque university town before the rain got even more serious.

The next day, we headed to York, which was our final stop in England before heading to the continent.  When we first met back in 1976, Penny had recently traveled to England with her Uncle Charles and Aunt Jackie.  York had been one of their destinations, and one that Penny has been talking about ever since.  It is easy to see why.  It is a phenomenal place.  Not too big, but there is plenty for the history-inclined to see.  York Minster, cathedral seat of the Church of England's Archbishop of York, is a huge, Gothic church and the fourth church on the site.  I find those squared towers to be a bit clunky.  Especially the one at the crux.  So from an aesthetic viewpoint, I prefer Notre Dame, Chartres, and San Francisco's Grace Cathedral to buildings such as York Minster.  Don't get me wrong, it is still an awesome structure with lots of history in it. York had been a Roman garrison town, protecting the northern boundary against Scottish incursions.  The whole city could be one big archaeological dig.
Penny remembered this one as soon as she saw it.  The constable of this keep had been selling the stones one at a time long ago, and it had been quite gutted before he was finally called to account.

Large parts of the town walls are preserved and are walking paths.

We also visited Britain's National Railway Museum, which claims to be the largest one in the world.  They have a great collection of locomotives and some rolling stock.  It is well worth a visit.  Now as a Sacramento kid, I can't miss the opportunity to plug the California State Railroad Museum.  The collection is not as large as York's, but I think the displays are better overall in Sacramento.

Jorvik was the Scandinavian name for York.  The city was a Norse one for several centuries, and this is commemorated in the Jorvik Viking Centre.  Photography was not permitted, and so all I can offer is this link:

We turned in the car without incident to the Avis center in York.  They were very cooperative.  I was not sorry to see the car go.  I have had quite enough of driving on the left.

We stayed at Ascot House in York, a very nice hotel-style b&b.  As with all our lodgings on this walkabout, Penny found it on, a site which has been very reliable indeed.

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