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I was born near to York in a place called Harrogate and went to York for University, I now return as regularly as I can.
York is one of the few large cities in England that has retained it's prettiness whilst still being extremely friendly towards visitors. It does not sprawl far outside the city walls and provides something new on every visit.
Architecture ------------------------ - Naturally the oldest thing in York are the Roman and Medival walls, which despite years of being repaired and reinforced are still walkable and in the Spring when the daffodils which line the banks are out, it is a best way to sightsee around York as it takes you past all the views. On a clear day, it is said you can see Leeds through binoculars. - In amongst other things, York has it's spectacular Minster wich is almost tucked away behind the main shopping areas and provide a pleasant respite to the shopping rush. The services are also regular at the Minster and it's adjoining churches - Scattered across the city too are various styles of architecture from all time periods, from the famous medieval street The Shambles to Tudor style houses that are situated near to the Minster to the Georgian magnificence of the Castle Museum and the Mayor's residence. - Included in this also are the three bridges in the centre of York that cross the famously flooding River Ouse.
Attractions --------------------------- York has a wonderful amount fo attractions going on and is a surprisingly dynamic city. Here is a taster of some of the things which I have actual experience of. - Ghost walks, bags of fun to do in a group as the storytellers are very dramatic in their story telling and it's a good way of getting to know the city by night. This isn't just an academic in a map telling you the stories, you actually get a great performance for your moeny and occasionally the locals join in. - The Castle Museum - a pleasant museum which boasts a replica Victorian and Edwardian street and a Jacobean drawing room inamongst a large collection of artifacts including costumes and is a great way to spend an afternoon (in the Winter there is also ice skating outside the castle museum and usually a Carosel in the summer). - Cliffords Tower - near to Castle Museum and on the top of a large hill, it gives your marvellous views complete with a gruesome story for kids. - Yorvik viking centre - a replica of a viking village complete with authentic smells and costumes. - York Races - are very mixed clientele collect here for the races so expect to rub shoulders with both landed gentry and students alike but it is good fun. - York Dungeons - a very popular attraction and brilliant for children if they can stand the queues, it is a the part-time job of many students to work at the dungeons and they enjoy putting on a show. York has a pretty gruesome past so the stories are true). - Richard III museum, a tiny museum that has hosted a few very good performances, including the excellent "Audience with Richard III". - York Grand Opera House - which regularly hosts musicals and shows as well as being a regular venue for comedians. - York Theatre Royal - hosts regular plays and performances including Shakespeare and best of all holds the best pantomime ever with the amazing Berwick Kaler. Incredibly popular. - The National Railway Museum - outside the city walls and behind the Railway Station. The best collection of trains in England and probably the world it caters for everyone and has regular festivals in the summer.
Shopping ------------- - There is always a market going on everyday and over the course of the year there are regualr farmers markets, continental markets and Christmas markets. - It has all the larger stores including the higher class department stores Fenwicks and Browns - York is also host to many tiny one-off shops especially in roads such as Stonegate and the Shambles. It is worth exploring the city in search of unique shops as they often hide away.
Food and Drink ------------------------ - Supposedly over 365 pubs and bars in the city walls .... quite literally one for everyday of the week. This includes tiny hidden local bars, students hangouts, cocktail bars and historic pubs. The famous Micklegate run which is on the side of the steepest hill in York has fifteen pubs and bars - Every price range is catered for from cheap snacks at Snadwich bars to a four course meal at the Blue Bicycle which will easily set you back £100 for two. - Notable restuarants that are unique York include the Greek restaurant Mana, the Chinese Buffet Restaurant Willow which turns into the cheesiest disco in the evenings, Wildes which is a nice bar hidden away behind Borders. As well at the expensive yet incredibly high-class tearoom Bettys
Nightlife ------------- - There are a few clubs in York which include Ziggys, the Gallery and Toffs, mostly located aorund Micklegate area. York is not big on club but these does a good job hosting pop, dance and alternative nights, especially on Ziggys. Mondays to Thursday tend to be student nights. - Most bars now have a late licence and venue bars often go on until early hours with many bars having musicians on. - Notable pubs and bars incldue the Kings Arms which gets flooded at least twice a year, the Stone Roses which was once a rock bar playing mainly Britpop, Fibbers an excellent bar for hosting new bands, the Star which is the oldest pub in York and the Pitcher and Piano which has a balcony right on the river.
Travel ---------- In comparison with Leeds or Manchester the actual city of York is quite small with most of the locals living in the surrounding villages and suburbs. The student quarter is out towards the hospital and the surburbs of Fulford, Heslington and Tang Hall. - Fulford and Fishergate are in easy walking distance of the city although there are very rleiable bus services going out to Clifton Moor, Fulford and other places as well as providing several excellent park and ride services. - The train station is ten minute slow walk from the very centre of the city and as much or the city is pedestrianised in the centre, it isn't worth catching a bus in. There is a regular road train service to National Rail Museum. - York train station is the main gateway between the North and South of England and has regular services between Birmingham New St, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Kings Cross (the service it is most famous for). The service to Leeds also has a late night train service runnning at 1am 2am and 3am - There are also plenty of local trains regularly runnning to places such as Ripon, Harrogate and Scarborough. - There are also regualr bus trips that go up and own the river. - Taxis are relatively cheap in comparison with other big cities. A taxi from the centre to Clifton Moor will cost about £8. - Roadways, altough driving throguh the centre is difficult at any time of the day it is possible. A large ring road known as the A64 circles York and once you are one it, it will take you where you need to go and the easiest way to get to York is up the M1 from the West or the A1 from the East until you hit the A64. It is a pleasant run too with plenty of scenery.
Hotels ---------------- - Hotels vary in price from £45.00 at the travelodge to well over £200 a night in a suite at the Hilton. - The nearest "chain" hotels to the city are the Travelodge, Travelinn and Novotel although Travelodge and Travelinn has satellite hotels on the outskirts of city so watch which one you book. - The b+bs around York are often incredsibly friendly, very well kept and dish up enormous breakfasts that are tasty and filling. I have staye din three b+bs in the Fulford area and have not been disappointed.
Good Points ----------------- - The locals are incredibly mellow and the city does not grind to a halt in snow or rain or floods. They are also quite friendly and it is a city I have felt relatively safe walking through on my own at night. - Most things are contained within the city walls so you never have to walk very far. - No matter what the weather, York always looks pretty. - 365 pubs and bars!! I haven't drunk in them all but the chart on our fridge came to 175. - The shopping is excellent, you can find anything here and even the charity shops yield something. - There is always some new alleyway, tiny street or hidden corner you have missed. - The main University campus is a mile outside the centre in the village of Helsington therefore on a weekend the students tend to stay on campus in the evenings. - There is just something about York that makes you unable to never go back, I still haven't worked out what it is. - Travelling there is also easy with trainlines, bus routes and a straight drive up.
Bad Points ---------------- - The worst thing: Tourists and crowds make it very busy, especially during Christmas shopping and festival periods. You can usually find quiet spots but it is becoming more and more popular. - Naturally increasedamounts of people means increased amounts of traffic - Foreign tourists. If you look even vaguely English you will have Americans or Japanese pestering you for directions. - Hen and stags night have started coming to York to take on the Micklegate run and sometimes it can resemble Basra on a bad day at the end of the night with people in the gutters. - You can get lost very easily as there are so many winding alleys and streets that look similar. - It does flood, although the locals don't care too much it does increase traffic. - Some of the prices can be quite expensive, although shopping around helps.
By only regret from York is that I was unable to stay after I graduated and had to move because of job committments. If given a chance I would move back there in an instant. It is possibly the most quirky of all of Englands big cities and well worth a visit.