We arrived in York in the afternoon, moved into the York Youth Hostel, or as I affectionately referred to it, The Labyrinth. Seriously finding your way in and out of this place was insane. There were multiple levels, wings, and hallways. We had to climb up and down several flights of stairs just to get to our room. But it didn't smell like a bathroom, so that was good. We met in our small groups to get information from our tour leaders and then walked into the city.
The hostel is about a half mile away from the city center, and there is this lovely path alongside the river that we take. It was fantastic. Rowers paddled along, kids played in the grass and trees, and then you come around a bend and get the most breathtaking view of York.
I LOVE York. It was one of my favorite cities. This was more of what I expected England to be like. Its probably the cleanest city we've visited, and the buildings are awesome. Our first order of business was Jorvik. Jorvik is the Viking name for York, a Viking settlement in the 10th Century. Jorvik is this museum/attraction/ride, and Tom had talked it up, so we all agreed to go despite the admission fee. Thank goodness we did. I don't know where we would have gotten material to make fun of for the rest of the trip. We dressed as Vikings, looked at ancient excrement (No. Really.), and rode the dangerous, exhilarating ride through the Viking Village. Seriously the ride went 3 mph, IF THAT, and was full of creepy puppets and mannequins. There were even village-appropriate smells. You know. To get the full effect. We just laughed and laughed at how ridiculous it was. Then after the ride I typed in an official complaint on the Customer Comment computer. "The museum was cool. The ride was a little fast, though. It made me a little motion sick." Ever the flippant smart alec.
After Jorvik, we got to explore the city. York is seriously awesome. We got some ice cream (clearly), and then checked out "The Shambles." This part of town is preserved to look exactly like the Medieval street it once was. A little creepy, but fun. I even saw a cool reference to a movie I love, V for Vendetta!
We met up at Yorkminster for Evensaid. Evensaid is weird, not as good as Evensong, but Yorkminster is my favorite Cathedral. It is incredible. It's huge, the biggest in the North. Fantastic.
After Evensaid, everyone dispersed to attend various Ghost Tours around York. London had Jack the Ripper tours, but no other city had anything to compare to this. There were upwards of 10 different Ghost Tours across the city, ranging from 2-10 pounds. Not really sure why. This prompted me to utter a phrase which henceforth became a sort of inside joke for our group.
"What, does York have a rich ghost heritage?"
We didn't want to pay, but we were ALMOST sneaky enough to tag along with a random tour. Too risky. Instead Jessica, Sam, Megan and I went to Pizza Hut. It was the best idea we had all day. It was just as good as American Pizza Hut, and exactly what we needed. Our ginger waiter entertained us with some flirting and sharing his opinions and perceptions of the United States. We had a much needed girl talk, plenty of sharing and bonding. Then we walked up to Clifford's Tower. This was scarier than a ghost tour, I thought. In 1190, over 100 Jews piled into the tower and burned themselves alive rather than concede their beliefs or be killed and mutilated by the surrounding mob. Yikes.