Primark, tea and scones, and York

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November 13th 2010
Published: November 19th 2010
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*Still in Manchester for the morning*

Woke up around 8 and Emma, Miri and I sat at the kitchen table with some coffee and breakfast. A quick shower and bag packing and we were on the bus to the centre to go shopping and see the city a bit. The bus that picked us up was a double decker so now I can say I've ridden a proper double decker bus in England! We sat up top right at the front which was a bit of a mind trip because the bus is on the other side of the street to begin with and then when it goes around the round-a-bout it looks like it can take out the flowers in the centre of the round-a-bout. So weird!

First we went to Marks & Spencer, a really nice and famous department store to sit down and enjoy coffee and a scone with jam and clotted cream. That's another first for me! The clotted cream did make me feel like my arteries were just a bit narrower inside, but I have to be honest and tell you that it was divine with the jam. The British surely know food that you can eat yourself to death with. =)

Primark was a store that one of my friends back in Whistler mentioned to me. It sounded more like a tiny boutique thrift shop or something so when I walked in and saw a department store with big price signs only saying £1 and £3 I was in buyer's heaven! Sadly I had to remind myself that I'm carrying a backpack and it's maximum weight has to be 15kg (I think around 32 pounds).

We went all around and for £32 (about 43 bucks) I bought: one tshirt, one long sleeved shirt, pair of black sneakers, jeweled bracelet, pair of socks, black leggings, a purse, a cardigan, a sequined tank top, and a cosmetics case. I had to stop there because I was scared about room in my bag but what a steal! I'm still on the hunt for some fashionable boots that seems to be the rage over here.

After that, we met Simon and had a great falafel on the famous Curry Mile stretch of road in Manchester. Lots and lots of Indian and Arab/Turkish falafel and hummus places. Was a great 2 days with the family and I'm glad it worked out like this because I won't be going to Israel this coming summer so at least I was able to see them this time.

I scurried to the train station and got on the train heading from Manchester to York via Leeds and some other towns. I had to transfer in Stalybridge. Finally, I arrived in York and I walked to my hostel. I didn't get lost and it only took me 10 minutes to walk (or less).

First impressions of York is that it's absolutely unique and mysterious. The old city is completely surrounded by medieval castle walls and there are several large castle gates that are still used to this day for people and cars to enter the city. There's a great mixture of old and new in York that I loved. The evening I arrived I walked around just to orient myself and buy some dinner fixings. Met an Australian (from Tazmania) guy named Dean who was sharing the room that I was in. He lived and worked in York for a few months and was completing his final travel days before heading back to Australia. Dinner was a cheese and tomato baguette and vegetable soup. I am still amazed at how cheap good cheese is in England! I bought a good sized square of stinky aged cheddar for £2 where it would normally cost me 11CAD for such a high quality imported cheese. Living it up here in England and then a bread n' cheese-free diet once I'm back in Whistler.

After dinner, Dean and I went out to two bars. We originally got talking because I saw he had an I.D.F. Israeli Army shirt on which peaked my curiousity. He had just returned from a two week trip to Israel so it was cool to hear what he thought about it and chat about such a lovely country that I wish more people would go and see.

Our first bar was called the Red Arms (or something like that). Looked like an old English cottage - whitewashed exterior with dark brown crossed wooden beams. Inside was stereotypically decked out with comfy couches and little round wooden tables, dim lighting and crooked candlesticks on each table. I stood behind an older man who ordered drinks for his table and then something else: the bartender then placed four eggs each in a cupcake paper wrapper on the bar and sprinkled the eggs with salt and pepper. She must've seen my questioning face as the old man walked off, because instead of asking me what beer I would like, she said "I see you've come for a pickled egg". I hesitated and then when she said that she made the current batch of pickled eggs, I felt rude to decline her invitation. So I ordered an egg and her best pint of beer, which turned out to be a Jorvik Blonde Ale. Dean refused to get an egg, so I was on my own with the first bite. Vinegary and salty. Hard boiled egg. Not...bad. It was actually alright, but I wouldn't go as far as saying that I would ever crave such a bar snack.

After the pint, we moved on to another pub that sat right along the river. Inside I found the interior not as comforting - there were no tables and the seats were uncushioned rock slabs. Felt like I was sitting in a brick cellar. It wasn't cold and thus, I accepted the atmosphere. I didn't order another pickled egg to go alongside an apple cider. I realised why the bar lacked interior as I saw a large wall plaque marking dates and levels of where the river had flooded and entered the bar. Some dates, the river had flooded past my head! The bartender said that they recently had a bad flood that had destroyed the cushions and they now keep the beer and wine upstairs, as not to ruin the labels.

As we left the bar, I noticed the ground was silty and a centimetre thick film of mud coated the cobblestones. During the time we were there, the river had risen and then went back down - but not fully - It still covered part of the road. Pictures to come eventually.

Back to the hostel and bed time was needed quickly. Dean went back out but I was quite full from the drinks and was satisfied with my first tastings of York in itself.


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