Monday, 16 March 2009

Yorkity Yorkity - Day One

And I awoke at... sigh ... six. Very early and far too early in my opinion. The hour of six and seven in the morning is not meant for anything more than a gentle slumber. But alas dear friends! I was cruelly woken by the "BEEEEP BEEEP BEEEEP BEEEP" of my cute pink (but ever so demonic) alarm clock.

Today is the day I set off for York! It's quite funny actually because yesterday or so Mum told me I had actually been to York before - Whoops. I'll see if anything jogs my memory (NOTE: it didn't).

Onto the bus and off to sleep. 4 hours later...

YORK! No rest for the weary as we were forced off the bus with sticks by the tour guide for a walking tour of the town. It's a lovely little town by the way. With the flowers blossoming everything looks lovely at the moment so... that doesn't really help. Maybe some pictures? All in good time, dear friend.
York is a rather old city. 2000 years old to be somewhat precise. Yep. This wee town pretty much predates history which is pretty cool. Hundreds of years ago York was considered as good as London - popularity wise and so on. I guess London had better grog so everyone went there over time? The town was started by the Romans and then settled by the vicious Vikings who decided to call it "Jorvic". Great to say. Eventually English tongues got lazy and so it became York. There was one little street which is known as The Shambles. And boy does that name fit. I mean look at the shops! They're all falling on top of one another. Back in the day this was the Butcher street and walking down the street would involve wading ankle deep in congealing blood, various organs and maybe and eyeball or two. I have to admit I'm quite relieved I don't live 'back in the day'.
One of the most monumental features of this sleepy town is the York Minster. It is an amazing structure. Very Gothic structure which was only aided in creepiness by the dead trees around it blowing in the extreme wind. I'm serious about the wind. It was crazy windy! As in I'm-probably-going-to-fall-down-how-embarrassing type wind. My cute new hair didn't just get a windswept look - it got a hurricane look. Which is not as attractive. I mean we're not in the 80s anymore.

Anyway have a look at the Minster. Around the big door you can see are a bunch of empty spaces. Little alcoves that look like they once hosted statues of saints and the likes. Well they did. And guess who's bright idea it was to go all Reformation on their stone hides? Henry VIII. Always shoving his big historical nose in everything and everywhere I go!

The inside was large and in charge. I have photos of the interior but it's hard to explain the atmosphere inside. It makes you feel tiny being in such a huge ornate place. I mean this thing took 250 years to build - 8 generations! Can you imagine building something you would never get to see completed? It was very mysterious inside because some choir boys started singing and the echoes mixed with their alarming high pitched voices gave me more of a small feeling. Then came the tower. 278 steps or so? Stupidly, Miranda and I didn't stretch beforehand - how I regret this! They only let people go up the tower in groups because there is no way one person can be going up and one coming down at the same time - you would get seriously stuck. The steps are tiny and very steep. That and they are very narrow and anyone who is claustrophobic should not attempt. I did though. The step climbing was more of an annoying experience for me as I had some guy in front of me who would keep stopping suddenly and I would be looking down watching my feet so I just ram right into his bottom! Most unpleasant. Half way there and we get out onto this rickety bridge thing - seriously - in that awful wind to go across to even smaller stairs! I was too spooked to get my camera out at that point so you'll have to wait until I get to the top. Huff puff huff puff. Hooray! A light at the end of this winding tunnel! And what a view. The wind and the walk meant nothing.

The air! Cold air whipping the very flesh off my face but still - revitalising air! The view and everything just makes you feel so small. I keep saying that but... that's how it felt. That and I wanted to be able to jump off and fly about the place. Stupid gravity and what not. Back down the stairs - taking it very slowly so I don't fall down and take everyone with me. We then had a look about the town - why do they make streets out of cobblestones? I mean sure they look sweet but they're a pain to walk on... And what about horses and carriages back in the day? Bumpy times.

We then trooped back to the bus and headed out to our hotel (Youth Hostel). Now I would have thought I would be slightly revolted at the sight of the dirty carpets, seedy showers and ugly curtains but no... I live in Founders! I mean if you multiplied this place 8000 times you might reach the grossness of Founders (the hall I live in back at Royal Holloway). The showers were actually the same style as the ones in Founders so it felt like I hadn't really left! We threw on more clothes as the temperature dropped and headed out to go on a ghost tour! Our little posse consisting of Americans, a Canadian and Me split and we went on different tours. I went on the tour that was more about historical ghost stories and Miranda went on one that was more modern ghost tails that had happened around town. York is apparently the most haunted city in England - I still haven't worked out why. Our tours both seemed pretty cool because my tour guide looked like Alan Rickman and Miranda's looked like William Shatner - a good evening. Take a look. One of the stories I heard was about a house (that we were standing right in front of) that had been reported as having the sounds of a child crying in various rooms. The mother of the family living in the house at the time went to tuck her son in bed when he said "Mummy please don't let that little girl sit on the end of my bed tonight. She cries and makes me sad". Freaky deaky. It's said that the very house contained a family who all died of the plague centuries ago. All the family except one little girl. The people who came to collect the bodies saw the little girl and panicked thinking that because she was alive she would infect them so they boarded up the house and painted a red "X" on the door forbidding anyone to come in. People would see the 3 year old girl looking out the tiny window and crying for help all in vain because of the "X". In the end she died of starvation and that is why her crying can still be heard even today! There were more but that was my favourite. Favourite isn't really the right word but oh well.

After a delicious dinner of pizza we waddled home - very full and slept. The pillows were amazingly comfortable and I soon drifted into sleep... Stay tuned for day two!

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