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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 54.9778, -1.61323
We awoke in Edinburgh to the nicest, sunniest day yet. That wouldn't last for long. After missing our turn, we were nearing the castle before deciding to turn back and walk quite a distance downhill to the train station. It had no garbage cans. Jeannette broke the law by being charitable to a pigeon (aka "flying rat"😉. Fortunately, she escaped arrest and/or ejection.
After a short breakfast we boarded our GNER train bound for York. We were seated on both sides of table facing one another, which was quite nice. Unfortunately, our car's HVAC was not working, so it was a bit stuffy, especially for Barb and Jake, who were sitting in direct sun. They announced numerous times that anyone caught smoking would be ejected from the train. What a strong word, but funny. It was nice to have internet access on the train. Rich and Barb used the time to look through Ellie and Anthony's engagement photos and pick their favorites.
Upon arrival in York, we met a very kind railway employee who helped us make seat reservations and book tickets for the rest of our travels. We are set for a trip to London tomorrow morning, a day trip to Bath, and finally, a train/ferry combination trip to Dublin. We then began our twenty minute walk to the Travelodge York in the pouring rain. Apparently all the sun we enjoyed in Scotland came due to the sacrifice of Yorkshire. They've had all the rain. It was not a bad walk, though, despite the rain. Most of it was along pedestrianized cobblestone streets and through a very medieval-looking city.
We regrouped and then set out for exploration. The rain came and went throughout the rest of the evening, coming in occasional bursts, sometimes just drizzle, and every now and then nothing at all. We enjoyed food and refreshments at a pub dating from the 1500s that claimed to be the most haunted pub in York. The floors were sticky. Jeannette felt dizzy, apparently being accosted by the sprits. It must have been one of the supernatural kind as she was only drinking tea. The pub was called the Golden Fleece. The floors were very crooked due to a lack of foundation; we wondered how it could possibly be standing after 500 years.
We departed from the Golden Fleece and headed toward York Minster via "the Shambles," a narrow lane that used to be home to York's butchers. Each shop had a shelf outside of it for displaying meats and it was very narrow to keep the sun off the meat. Houses and shops were built on very small footprints for purposes of taxation, but upper floors stretch out over the street. This provides additional square footage and also makes sure that muck lands in the middle of the street when thrown from upper-floor windows.
York Minster is the largest cathedral in all of Britain. It dates from a Roman settlement in 71AD and there has been a church of some sort on the site since 637AD. The current Minster began construction in the eleventh century and took 250 years to be completed. During WWII, all of the stained glass windows were removed and buried under the city wall to protect them from Hitler's bombing raids. Once the war came to an end, it took 22 years to reinstall the windows, which feature the largest collection of medieval glass in Britain. We plan to return tomorrow to visit the crypt, below which lies Roman ruins, and to ascend the 275-step tower. We like our church tours, you know.
After exploring York Minster, we wandered around for a bit and then joined a walking tour, led by a volunteer from the city. It was a very informative tour, despite the occasional barrage of rain, and the tour guide was very friendly. Best yet, it was free. They have been giving volunteer tours in York since 1950!
After the tour, we went back and dried off, finishing our evening at Wetherspoon, a restaurant/pub right next to our hotel.
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