April 21, 2012 – Back in the UK
Here we are, back in the UK. After the madness of New York, it is wonderful to be back in England – where life is slightly less frenetic! We picked up our hire car (booked a Ford Focus, got an Audi – woohoo!) and drove north. Thank you, Google Maps!
We got as far as Yorkshire, before deciding to call it a day. We found a lovely hotel in York, and we'll have a look around York tomorrow before heading on to Scotland. Damian got onto a “last minute” booking website, and found us a 5 star hotel right in the centre of Edinburgh for £60 a night!! We'll stay in Edinburgh itself for 2 nights, then head to St Andrews.
April 22, 2012 – Travelling the UK
What a day! This morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before exploring York. What an amazing, historic place. We took a tour of the York Museum, which houses a vast array of exhibits which range from medieval times through to fairly recent eras. The most amazing parts of the museum are the streetscapes (where you walk down reconstructed streets,
featuring sounds and real characters who you can talk to about the streetscape era) and the jail cells (which includes the actual cell where Dick Turpin spent time before his execution). York Museum is actually on the site of the York Prison, and much of it can still be seen today. It's well worth a visit, and set plenty of time aside to take the tour.
After the York Museum, we visited Jorvik Museum, which deals exclusively with the Viking history of the area. This was truly fascinating – the Museum rests above the site of an excavated Viking village, and the village has been recontructed over the exact foundations of the original village. Hence, the Museum exists underground, as the ground level of today is many metres above where it used to be in Viking times. The recontructed village is viewed from suspended moving cars, with running commentary on the village and people. The reconstructed village includes the actual smells of the Viking times – and I can assure you, the smells are vile
!!! After the tour of the village, the Museum also includes a vast array of artifacts which have been excavated, including three skeletons which are
in incredible condition. The skeletons all show various stages of joint degeneration and significant injuries – the Vikings lived hard, and died even harder. It was a real privilege to spend time seeing such history in the flesh (not just on the TV!).
Afternoon saw us back on the road heading for Scotland – and here's a tip for other travellers: Streets in England and Scotland are NOT well signed. Google maps refer mainly to street names, which meant that it took us about an hour of getting thoroughly lost just trying to get out of York! We got there eventually though LOL The trick is, when using google maps, ensure you're connected to the net and zoom the map right in, as this will then reveal business names (e.g. hotels, pubs, bigger businesses) and this is a much easier way to navigate through villages and towns instead of struggling with trying to find street names on the fly.
Using this method, we got to our hotel in Edinburgh without getting lost at all, and I have to say Damian's chosen hotel is a ripper. The Ibis Edinburgh Central is right in the middle of the Old City
– right around the corner from Royal Mile, where the entrance to the Underground Catacombes is, and literally 5 minutes walk from Edinburgh Castle. James Palace is just down the road. Royal Mile holds heaps of fantastic looking shops which I am planning to visit tomorrow on our way to the Castle, plus pubs and restaurants.
Tomorrow we are booked to go on a tour of the catacombes in the afternoon, and then we're going back for a more in-depth Ghost Tour at 9pm at night. Should be a bit more interesting than the Maryborough Ghost Tour we did a few months ago!!
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