Saturday, May 27, 2000
After a very good breakfast we walked across the street to catch the bus into town. After waiting 20 minutes and no bus, we started walking. I kept watching as we walked into town and never saw a bus so I am not sure what the schedule was. The day was cool and windy with occasional showers but overall very nice.
Our first stop this morning was York Minister where I wanted to take the guided tour. We had visited many other cathedrals but had yet to take a tour of any. The tours are free and last 1.5 hours (about a half hour too long). It was very interesting as the guide pointed out many details that you otherwise would have missed. It seems that each of the four arms of the church had at one time or another caught on fire and had to have major restoration, the latest being just 12 years previously. It was also pointed out where the original builders had made a mistake and the roof wasn't lined up correctly. After the tour I tried to convince Alan to climb the tower with me but he didn't want to climb 350 stairs for some reason.
Our next stop was to be the National Train Museum. I hoped to take the "street train" from the Minister to the museum but it wasn't running so we had to walk. On our way we shopped in several of the thousands of souvenir shops that can be found in the city. I bought some fossils at a small rock shop. Alan purchased a bagpipe from a shop for £80 pounds. I tried to convince him that it would be cheaper to buy a cat to kick. For the price it is actually very nice.
We made our way to the train museum where we paid £6 for the entrance fee. If you are at all interested in trains this is the place to go. First, it is HUGE!!!! I mean really, really big. Secondly, there are at least a hundred trains. There are small trains, royal trains, coal trains, electric trains, etc. etc. etc. Finally, there is everything that is remotely connected to trains. There is so much stuff in this museum that there is one room stacked high with items they don't have a place to display. We spent several hours looking at trains and none of us are even that interested in trains. If you are into trains, you could spend day(s) here.
After the train museum we walked back into town. By now we were hungry for lunch. Spotting a Burger King we decided to join the tourist crowd and enjoy a burger. Funny thing, we seemed to be the only "tourist" is the place. Everyone else appeared to be Brits (now how I could tell this is a mystery but you seem to be able to sort these things out). And the place was packed. We finally got our meals and found a table where we relaxed for awhile and people watched.
We next made our way down to the "Castle Area" of town near Clifford's Tower. We had thought about touring the museum but after we got there decided we didn't want to spend another £5 to go through yet another museum. Instead we found a park bench and relaxed for about 30 minutes enjoying the sun.
We finally decided to walk back towards the Minster, shopping as we went, to go to the 4:00 Evensong service. Of all the places we had visited York was the busiest. The streets were absolutely crowded with people. We saw several street bands playing. I toyed with the idea of visiting the Jorvik Viking Center until I saw a line that stretched 40 yards down the street from the doors.
In the center of town we stopped in a large store that consisted of a grocery on the first level and a department store on the upper levels. It is always fun to go to grocery stores while traveling. I also stopped at an ATM to pull out some more money. We made our way through the Shambles and found a large "Flea Market." I purchased wool hats for myself and a friend and a used CD of Welsh music. We also stopped in many small shops and I purchased several other souvenirs.
We arrived back at the Minster just before the evensong service began. While waiting in line I began talking with a lady standing nearby. Apparently there was a guest choir tonight and her husband would be singing. She shared with me many aspects about evensong services that I would have never known. The service was beautiful and it was wonderful to worship the Lord in this majestic cathedral.
After the service we walked back to the B&B. It was about 6 p.m. and the tourist crowds had once again pulled their vanishing act. The streets were deserted. I still find this amazing being that this was a holiday weekend you would think more people would be about.
On the way I stopped in the Ying Yang China Buffet and made reservations for 8:30 that night. I also went to the small store across from the B&B and bought some tea and cereal for souvenirs for friends. Back in the room we rested and watched Rocky on television. I also spent some time repacking my bags.
We left to go eat supper about 8:00. The buffet was o.k. but not great. It was interesting that almost every dish was strictly meat and there were very few vegetable offerings. It was just getting dark as we were leaving and promised to be a beautiful night.