A couple weeks ago I spent a night and a day in York (after the day in Harrogate mentioned in my last entry). York is a historic walled city with plenty of different museums, shops, historic sites, and parks to visit. In keeping in line with my budget travel style, I attempted to spend my 24 hours in York as frugally as possible. After an evening stroll to nowhere in particular, I spent a surprisingly good night at Safestay Hostel. This hostel is just over 5 walking minutes from the city center, is affordable, provides a standard hostel breakfast, and each bunk has curtains for privacy and darkness. Not bad.
I began my morning with a sunny stroll through the museum gardens to see the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey. Even in February the gardens are worth the walk with nice buildings, a view of the river and most notably, an over abundance of pigeons and squirrels. I saw a man hand feeding a squirrel and two visitors with pigeons on their arms. I mostly like the squirrels. They were chubby and cute.
Next up was the free York Art Gallery. Unfortunately, this was closed for renovations and took away one of my only free indoor activities leaving me a bit in the cold. Note to self: if you plan a day trip in winter, find more inside venues. So I skipped right to the walk atop the York city walls. The wall circles the majority of the historic city center and provides stunning views of York Minster and Dean's park. I choose to walk the northern half in the morning and the eastern/southern half in the afternoon. The wall was one of my favorite activities in York for people watching and catching the precious winter sun.
Clifford's Tower provides a nice little climb near the York Castle Museum. While I choose to skip the York museums, you save money if you buy tickets for both locations. The rest of my morning and early afternoon was spent wandering the inner city streets window shopping and munching on tea and sandwiches. Shambles street has some of the city's oldest architecture and unique shops. The surrounding streets have boutiques, chains, discount shops, and more tea houses than one city really should ever need. I bought a couple used books and spent some time stealing the heat in one of these shops.
My two final attractions were the historic Holy Trinity church and York Minster. The rather cold Holy Trinity church is secluded in the city center and well stocked with information on the building and its past. I found this building and the helpful staff very moving and more intimately interesting (especially in terms of information) than the other historic attractions I saw in York. Only downside, it was freezing. York Minster, arguably the most popular York tourist attraction, is large, beautiful, and expensive. I chose to attend the Evensong service (both to avoid the entry cost and to learn what an evensong service is). I recommend this immersive learning tactic but allow yourself time and an open mind if you do.
York is a great little city with plenty to do and see. One day is certainly enough time to get an impression of the area. If I were to visit again I would plan more indoor activities as the cold got to my mood a bit (as well as running into a rather unpleasant man on the street abusing pigeons and seagulls). Aside from him, everyone was friendly and the sun on the stones was a real pleasure to see.