I have lived in and around York since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Weekends spent at my dad’s house would involve walking in to the city centre and spending my well-earned pocketmoney. It wasn’t until I got a lot older, when I could venture to York on my own, that I could really appreciate the city for what it is.
York is a very special place to me as it encompasses everything I love about city life; shopping, the occasional street performer and a fantastic coffee culture. But what makes it different from any other city is its richness in history and important cultural sites. What about London or Edinburgh I hear you ask? As somebody who has visited York countless times and has worked in the city centre on a number of occasions, never have I known York to reach the high volumes of visitors such as what is experienced in the City or Scotland’s capital, and thats the way it should be otherwise it will just end up as unbearable as a saturday afternoon on Oxford Street…and nobody wants that.
York is not only home to the largest Gothic cathedral in the North of Europe and Clifford’s Tower noted as ‘the last remnant of William the Conqueror’s medieval castle’. But York also conceals such gems as Barley Hall, a striking townhouse hailing from the medieval era where it is possible to immerse yourself in medieval life and the beautiful Fairfax House a perfect example of Georgian architecture.
If like me you can’t resist a little bit of shopping, then York is the place to be to inject your fashion and homewares fix. The Shambles was voted ‘Britain’s most picturesque street’ and could well just make you feel as though you have stepped on to the set of Harry Potter. This cobbled thoroughfare with its quaint selection of shops (some with original black and white timbered fronts dating as far back as the medieval times) is a stones throw away from the bustling market, but the Shamble’s spell is only broken once you leave the street.
If like me you adore unique gifts and home accessories (more for yourself than anybody else) then head to Stonegate, a quaint but bustling street that could rival the Shambles. My favourite store Wild Hart is jam-packed full of exceptionally beautiful treasures, most of which wouldn’t look out of place in a glossy lifestyle magazine. The shop itself can get a little crowded due to its popularity among tourists but is well worth a visit. The owners are exceptionally helpful and the customer service is top-notch.
Just down the street is The Minster Gate Bookshop. Over five floors of wall to wall book shelves, crammed with second-hand books… my idea of heaven. Some of the rooms overlook the pavement below where it is nice just to sit and browse through the vast collection of books available. Bibliophiles this is the place to be…
York has all the classic high street food and drink vendors like Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Varsity and the like but if you want a completely new drinking experience then make your way to Pivni. Whenever I go out in York with family or friends we always end the night here. Situated on the fantastically named Patrick Pool street Pivni is a charming pub/coffee house which oozes character, and provides York with extensive and eclectic selection of beers including beauties from Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Germany. Visit here for a great review and pictures http://www.thepubsofyork.com/pivni.
This just a snippet of what can be done in York and what I usually do on a rare day off. York is not just beautiful, it is historically important (Guy Fawkes was born and schooled here) and is not afraid to move with the times while still retaining its identity as the York in Yorkshire.
If you are planning a trip to York in the near future, please feel free to contact me where I can give you a more detailed and personal account of York. More information can be found here http://www.visityork.org/.