Day Two: Experiencing the Sights, History and…Smells?

To say today’ adventures “taught us a lot” about the literary figures and history known to York would be an unfortunate understatement. The experiences we had today allowed us to see the more of the city through a walking tour, visit the beautiful York Minster, and learn about the fascinating life of a Viking in Jorvik.

We met our guide for the tour on the driveway to the hostel and we greeted with a his lovely British and we took off across the pavement to find the birth place of Wystan Hugh Auden: poet, well-known literary figure, and flamboyant playboy. It was quite fitting that his bust was depicted with a cigarette in hand. The next site we saw was the St. Peters school, a school who has the opportunity to boast – although why you would want to boast in this I cannot quite tell – that Guy Fawkes was once in attendance. A short walk down the pavement from the school was the King’s Manor, a beautiful structure that housed the Abbot, was a moral palace, and a girls boarding school. The rest of the tour included the Royal Palace theatre, and a church in which Richard III invested his son as prince. Each building we encountered in York offered us rich history, it seemed as very few people had not passed through this fascinating city.

Following the walking tour we broke into small groups for a quick lunch. The group I was a part of went to a “Mr. Chippy’s” for fish and chips, which was delicious. But most surprisingly was the side dish of the plate – mushy peas. A typical side dish for fish and chips in England it was tolerable if not slightly tasty.

After lunch we went to tour the York Minster, founded in 627 on Easter Sunday the York Minster is a testament to the art, architecture, and history of the city. The building we toured today was completed in 1472. The church had since then experienced three fires, from accident, arson, and lightening, and yet the beautiful structure remains for both tours and as an active Minster. The church is dedicated to St. Peter, and his image stands between the two large doors if looking from the inside. On either side of the statue of Peter twelve headless figures sign in Cemphor, a type of signing using arm movements, that reads “Christ is Here.” The artist purposely left out the heads in order to focus on the message. At the high peak of the entrance to the Minster is a window which includes a large heart pattern, and is fondly known as “the heart of York.” This beautiful window was a gift to the Minster as a tribute to Archbishops Thomas and Williams and is a awesome sight greeting the visitors of York as it towers in the sky. Although the entire cathedra was extraordinary, I found that one of the most interesting pieces of the art was the blue and gold painting at the peak of cathedral showing the souls of Christ’s feet and symbolic of his ascension. Our tour took us through many of the rooms of the of the Minster as we stood in awe of the beauty and history contained in this one structure.

Our final stop for the day was Jorvik, an archeological dig sight turned museum that taught us about the lives of the Jorvik viking. On this tour we were able to see artifacts from the dig such as a 1,000 year old sock, pottery, and common household objects. The most interesting portion of Jorvik however was most certainly the ride which depicted through animatronics and replicas of artifacts the streets of the Viking people. As we rode through we could smell something sulfuric, possibly fishy, and most definitely disgusting. The smell was meant to imitate the combination of seafood, butcher shops, smiths, and outdoor lavatories that were a part of the Viking cities. The experience was fantastic and truly allowed us to both see and smell what it might have been like living in York during the time of the vikings.

Today allowed us to make fantastic connections and have awesome experiences – now to retire to the hostel, tired, satisfied, and away from the smells of Jorvik Vikings.

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