An Enjoyable Free Walking Tour

York, U.K. – I had a nice day of sight-seeing today, under incredibly clear, blue skies and comfortable temps in the 70s. At 10am, I joined one of the free walking tours offered by the city council. Our guide, whom I shall call “Jim” to protect him, was a retiree with a quick wit, an excellent knowledge of history and historical fiction novels, many good stories, a facility for sometimes getting off track, and a big chip on his shoulder regarding the local planning council.

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York has three walls (city, abbey, Roman), all extant, and our walk included many views of ancient buildings, gardens, and a long walk on a walkway atop the inside of the Roman fort walls. There were great views from the walls, and you could look out through a crenel (gap) and imagine hordes of attackers being repulsed by defenders.

Jim regaled us with lots of history and, when we were near the huge cathedral, local lore and insider tidbits about it. It was an excellent couple of hours, easy walking with many stops, and just over two hours long. If you care, there were no bathrooms available and it made sense to bring a water bottle.

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The tour ended in The Shambles area, a medieval street with many buildings dating back to the 1500/1600s. These often had successive stories built further out over the street, almost to the point of touching the opposing building. Looks nice in the picture but must have been pretty awful by modern standards.

I rested my feet at the Pivni Bar with a nice pint of Cream ale, from the local Roosters brewery, then had a great lunch at the nearby Drake’s Fish and Chips. The batter was light and flakey and the fish quite fresh – it was probably the best F&C I’ve ever had. Highly recommended! The menu also mentioned its “Chocolate Policy”: if you want to bring in your own chocolate bar, they’ll batter and deep fry it then serve it over ice cream for you! Talk about a heart attack in a dish…

I finished off my day with a visit to the York Brewery, which was somewhat disappointing. The un-air conditioned Tap Room is in the attic over the brewery, where it was warm, even with the windows open, and featured swarms of flies. I had a quick pint and didn’t stay long.

A quick aside: the papers are reporting that there’s a Europe-wide shortage of CO2, that will very soon (in the next few days) affect food producers, carbonated soft drinks, and BREWERIES! As a fan of cask ale, which uses only natural carbonation, I am safe but I pity the others. Just imagine the U.S. without CO2 for moment…

The Hampton Inn bar was invaded last night with loud louts who needed their mommies to remind them to use “indoor voices”, and the breakfast buffet was overwhelmed as I was leaving it this morning by a horde of U.S. high schoolers. Ahh, the joys of the summer tourist high season.

 

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