There was a buzz in the air as I stepped off the train at York Station. The glorious arched ceiling was filled with barely contained excitement and something else – smoke! Walking over the footbridge I saw the source of all the shrieks and pointing fingers. A shining Stanier Class Black Five loco (No. 45305) stood in a cloud of smoke at platform six surrounded by smiling men holding large cameras.
York is a city that is full of unexpected surprises. The glorious spires and gargoyles of the Minster that tower over the skyline from the city’s ancient walls are shocking in their enormity as you emerge from the shadows of the Shambles. The Minster looks like it would be perfectly at home in Paris or Belgium instead of at the end of a narrow street in Yorkshire. Inside the enormous church, gorgeous stained glass windows glisten in the sunshine, showering the faces of the hundreds of people who wander up and down the aisles with a kaleidoscope of colours.
Tourists roamed the streets of York with cameras and wide eyes, taking in the beautiful architecture and the window displays of the decidedly independent shops. Delicious smells wound down the streets from the York Sausage Shop, lengths of ribbons like rainbows lined the walls in the artfully named ‘Dutton’s for Buttons’ and it was only the sheer length of the queues inside The Fudge Kitchen that saved me from gluttony.
Tucked away behind the Shambles is a marketplace buzzing with stalls selling Fedora hats, Indian incense and piles of ruby red cherries. Medieval wattle and daub houses decorated with bright hanging baskets make the scene look like something from many years gone by.
Deciding to join in with the tourist vibe, we joined the queues outside Bettys Café and Tea Rooms. The tearooms are beautiful inside with polished wood panels and mirrors lining the walls, a design inspired by the magnificent Queen Mary Cruise liner. The café displays are like works of art with delicate pastel coloured macaroons sandwiched between jewelled strawberry Pavlovas and glossy chocolate mousse cakes. Attentive waitresses in white lace trimmed blouses and aprons served our lunch and guided us expertly through the offerings of the dessert trolley.
There is almost too much to do in one weekend in York. We didn’t have time to visit the art gallery or the museum or even to take a boat trip along the Ouse that seem to me to be the perfect excuse for a return trip!
by Katherine Wildman © 2011
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