Our trip to York was not only fulfilling in terms of the Hotel Du Vin York, but also satisfying in regards to the lovely sights and sounds the city had to offer. I always believe that every place needs to be first explored by simply walking around the local neighbourhood, shops, cafes, etc. to simply breathe in the unique air. That was exactly what we did when we landed at this place in the afternoon.
With Christmas round the corner, there was no better motivation to visit the local Christmas market and outlets to pick up some lovely things. Whether you are looking for one of a kind unique little gift or something designer and classy, York has it all. Wander through the cobbled streets of Stonegate centre to have a look at the antique shops, vintage stores, and small boutiques selling everything from pottery, jewellery and artefacts. Whatever is your budget you are sure to find something worthwhile to treasure. In case you are in a mood to shop for some classy labels and not blow up your pockets, head over to designer outlet to satisfy your craving. Wait! There is more. A visit to the famous Shambles market (It is nowhere in shambles, but a gem!) right in the heart of the city is perfect for that leisurely stroll through 70 odd merchant stalls selling local produce, flowers, antiques, books, etc. museum; you name it and you will find it. York promises to satisfy every kind of shopper ever born!
The next day, after a sumptuous breakfast, we headed to soak in some culture and history by first making a visit to the York Castle Museum located at the Eye of the York. This is a one stop location to learn all about hundreds of years of York history-from recreated Victorian old jails to the Jacobean dining rooms. The interactive galleries hold thousands of objects that give a glimpse into the glorious English history.There was even a Christmas carol presentation at the Victorian place, not to mention a Christmas trail for kids to explore. Our next stop was the magnificent York Minister, one of Northern Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals complete with stoned masterpieces and stained glass. The vast spaces come alive with the deep reverence for worship, tradition and music. There are even some inspiration corners at the Revealing York Minister that were displaying artefacts and various audio visual clips perfect to soak in the 2000 year old history of the cathedral. If you’re fit enough, one can climb up the 275 steps of the Central Tower, from where you can get a complete view of the city. Believe me it is so worth the effort.
The next stop in our medieval trail was the York Castle, situated between the Fishergate and Skeldergate bridges. It was a fully wooden structure built by the Normans in 1068. The Clifford tower is the oldest remaining structure of the castle, which was later rebuilt in stone during the 13th century. It is said that the king would display all the executed bodies on display in this castle. Apart from this eerie fact, the views are stunning. We were very keen to see the York castle dungeon, which is a thrilling show showcasing city’s brutal history like the Viking invasion, murderous rogues like Guy Fawkes etc. However, with our 3 year old kid in tow, we had to do something less extreme, so we headed to the National Railway museum, just behind the York station. It has so many impressive locomotive exhibits dating back to 1820’s like Queen Victoria’s Palace on wheels, King Edward’s smoking saloon and even a Japanese bullet train. There are countless demonstrations, exhibitions, live theatre and science shows perfect for kids and adults alike. I can say that this was most enjoyable for all of us.
Our last activity for the day was a relaxed boat tour of York, suitable for families where we got to know some interesting colourful snippets about the city’s rich culture along with marvelling at the beautiful sights. The boat tour just summed up all that we wanted to see in York.
I was pleasantly surprised at the rich cultural history of York and it offers so many activity options for young and old alike depending on the season. So, if you want a short break combined with relaxation, learning and fun, York is the place to go.