Viking City

Today I am off to York, my fourth city in four days. This time I am going without Tigger, which makes it less fun. I have been invited to spend the day in York by family. My ticket has been paid for and I am living it up in First Class. The ticket inspector has just punched my ticket and I caught him giving me a sidelong glance. Maybe he was admiring the pin badges in my hat.

I have a single seat next to a window where I can watch the unfolding countryside. A nice thing about travelling in First is that you get free coffee. A touch of luxury from time to time is enjoyable.

This morning I got up early so as to have time to do the usual morning chores and get ready without undue haste. Then we strolled down to King’s Cross, intending to have breakfast in the Station Cafe, but it was not yet open. Instead we went to a little cafe across the road.

After breakfast we still had time to spare so we moseyed across to Starbuck’s for espressos. You would think I would be used to catching trains with all this travelling we do but I still get nervous about missing my train.

We went into King’s Cross station at 8:45 and my train, due to leave at 9:00, was already boarding. Tigger waited on the platform and we communicated by signs through the glass. It was her idea that I should move from my reserved seat next to another passenger to the nicer window seat.

The unfolding countryside is unfolding beautifully as I write, basking in golden sunshine under a blue sky barely mottled with white. Have the seasons changed place in England? Do we now have summer in what used to be autumn? I would be happy with that.

I wish Tigger were here as she enjoys travel and it is such a good day for it. Instead, she is off to Baker Street to reclaim a bag that she somehow managed to leave on a bus. (Later, Tigger let me know that the Baker Street lost property office does not open on Saturday.)

Just then, off to the right, I saw a flock of starlings in flight. This always makes me catch my breath. I watched them until they were out of sight hidden by the body of the train. It was a small flock that changed shape in flight like a ball of thread unwinding to form a single long strand.

What must it be like to be a starling flying in a flock like that, high above the green floor, in the cold sunlit air? We can never know, only fantasize about it, but it is a sight that always evokes wonder and a strange nostalgia in me.

The visit is over and I am on my way back to London. My train is a few minutes late but perhaps it will catch up along the way.

It was colder in York than it has been in London but for most of the day the sun shone benignly, brightening the scene and taking the chill off.

City walls
City walls

First I was taken for a walk along the old town walls. This gives pleasant views but is slightly hair-raising in places as there isn’t always a railing on the outside edge and the walkway is only a few feet wide. I am surprised they allow this as the danger is evident.

After this I was taken to lunch at a purely vegetarian restaurant called El Piano. This is a brightly decorated and friendly establishment with a well populated menu, making it difficult to choose! I had a leak and potato soup served with unusual bread, dhal (highly seasoned lentils) with rice and a cheesecake to finish.

View from the walls
View from the walls

After lunch they took me to the Yorvik exhibition. This supposedly tells the story of Viking York but, unfortunately makes a poor job of it. The whole seems geared towards keeping the kids interested rather than in really educating you about York’s Viking past. In fact, I would say they give a rather Disneyesque picture of the Viking period. For the price of the entrance fee, visitors deserve a better and more professional exhibition. I think the skillful and painstaking work of archaeologists over the years also deserves a more fitting showcase.

River view
River view

Next, we went on the river boat. We sat on the upper, open, deck and although it was a little chilly I very much enjoyed the ride. There was a good commentary on the places we passed and their history.

After disembarking, we decided it would be appropriate to go somewhere for tea or coffee to warm us up. We found a Cafe Nero which filled the bill.

After a further stroll through the city we went for dinner. There is plenty of choice in York. We eventually settled on Red Chilli, a rather unusual Chinese restaurant. The decor is very striking, mainly because of the jagged-cut, illuminated green glass screens diving the restaurant into sections. These give the place a beautiful and exotic atmosphere.

Sunlit facade
Sunlit facade

Nor can I fault the food. I started with a vegetarian sweet and sour soup which was almost a meal in itself. To follow, I chose hot chilli beancurd and fried crispy noodles. The waitress warned that this was very hot and she wasn’t kidding.

When mine arrived, the bowl was so large that I assumed it was for two people. No: it was all for me. In fact, all the portions were so large that there was no possibility that we could eat everything. Fortunately, the restaurant is quite happy to pack up the remainder for you to take away. I was relieved that the food will not be wasted.

The train home
The train home

Then it was time to think about going to the station. Surprisingly, the last train from York to London is scheduled to leave at 20:32.

I had a good day out in York but now, as the train rumbles through the darkness, I am glad to be going home and looking forward to being reunited with Tigger.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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5 Responses to Viking City

  1. I catch up on blogs about twice a week and I just can’t believe how many places you manage to get to in that time. You make me feel like a real stay-at-home boring person!

    I love York. I worked in York for a couple of years and was very happy there. You are right about the Jorvik Centre – I was never impressed with that either although my daughter was always rather keener.

    I worked on Albion Wharf – opposite the pub where they mark up all the floods on the wall (can’t think what it is called) and it was a perfect existance to be able to stroll along the city walls at lunchtime or eat a picnic in Museum Gardens.

    Oh yes, and you must go back in Spring when the daffodils are out as there are thousands of them along the grassy banks of the city walls.

    I love it when you restaurants let you take a doggy bag home. So do my children!

  2. The Villager says:

    As a person born and brought up in York, it’s graeat to see your report and images.

  3. SilverTiger says:

    To Reluctant Blogger: Four cities in four days is unusual even for us! I doubt whether we shall have such a programme again soon. I am sure we will rise to the challenge, though, it is does happen.

    I’m all for museums attracting children in order to cultivate their “museum habit” but I don’t think they should do so at the expense of the more serious side. Somehow the two need to be married successfully. Perhaps I am over-estimating the goals of the Jorvik exhibition. Perhaps it is intended solely as an sort of historical amusement arcade.

    To The Villager: I’m glad you liked it. I have written about a couple of other visits there as well.

  4. David says:

    I love to travel the world through your blog and your wonderful words.

  5. SilverTiger says:

    Thanks, David. I am glad to know it brings pleasure to people.

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