I grew up on British humour like Fawlty Towers. If you haven’t seen Fawlty Towers, please watch it – it is literally the funniest thing in the history of comedy. It’s a show by John Cleese (the funniest member of Monty Python) and basically all of my family’s jokes come from the show. My dad also had a friend who lived in England while I was growing up, and we saw his British family occasionally. I also feel like most Canadians (maybe just me?) feel a connection to the UK since we’re still so involved with them – good old Commonwealth. Anyway, suffice it to say I was a total Anglophile as a kid.
My family took a wonderful trip to England when I was probably 9 or 10, and it was the first time I ever kept a travel journal – a lovely tradition that I still do every time I take a trip. We spent 10 days in a rural home, taking trips to places like Stonehenge, Durdle Door and Bath, and then 3 days in London. It was the greatest way for a pair of preteens to learn about a culture and country that had always fascinated us – we memorized the monarchs using a poem we found in the home we were staying in, talked in fake British accents half the time, and were likely generally annoying to locals.
I love London and all of its cosmopolitan charm, but smaller-town England has always been where my heart lies (weird, since in a lot of places I’m obsessed with the cities). There’s something special about the English countryside; it lives up to every single one of its stereotypes and everything is just so cute.
On this summer’s trip, York offered the perfect stopover between Edinburgh and London, and also helped me with my goal of checking off more of England. It’s got the old world charm that makes England feel so different from Canada, but the same kind of people that make Canada so great. That’s why York may be my favourite part of England.
I loved walking the walls, because the sentence ‘walking the walls’ is just so cool and princess-y. This was probably my highlight, and if I hadn’t been so hungover from Edinburgh (oops) I would have done the whole circuit – as it is, I just did the part closest to the famous Minster and was totally blown away. The walls are free to access and there are various points you can get up and down; the views are great and like I said, it’s just a really cool way to feel like you’re in history.
As for the Minster, it’s probably the most famous and therefore most touristy part of York. It was the only place I found super crowded, and I didn’t even go in because I’ve decided I don’t appreciate the inside of churches enough to pay £15 for them. I did enjoy admiring the incredible intricacy of the outside, but the construction was kind of annoying. Churches – beautiful, but meh. I look at them and then I’m like …ok let’s go. Might mean I’m uncultured, but ah well.
‘The Shambles’ is the cutest name ever for the historic shopping district in York. They’re home to everything you would expect; tea shops, ‘traditional’ British goods stores, and then the touristy trinkets. They’re a super cool look into medieval England town life, and despite the crowds I enjoyed wandering through. It was, however, impossible to get a good picture, so here’s one I got from somebody with more talent than me.
I think the part of this trip that made my time in York so special was where I stayed. Hostels were absurdly expensive, so I stayed at an Airbnb just across the river from the historic part of town. The couple who owned the beautiful house I stayed in were incredibly welcoming, even offering up a free breakfast. I booked the place almost solely based on the fact that they had a black lab, and his name was Oscar and I loved him. It’s always nice to break up hostel dorms with a good night’s sleep in a private room, and this night was worth every penny! Sitting around the breakfast island in the morning, watching the news and petting the dog, I let myself believe I was actually from York and this was my home, and it was delightful. Hostels are great, but in a place like this, experiencing local living can really add to the experience.