Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Trip to Europe Continued (Eleventh Post In Total)

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We four, my wife, two of my daughters, and I, stayed the second Wednesday night of Europe trip at the York Priory House in York, England, of course. We all stayed in the top floor, the outside of which is in this photo.
It was the third floor, represented by the row of windows at the top right and reached by a very, very narrow winding wooden staircase, that seemed over a hundred years old.  We had pre-paid for an English breakfast for three of us four, which had everything I had previously described in an English breakfast:  the banger, blood pudding, tomato, baked beans, eggs, and fried bread.  It was enough to discourage further English breakfast.  I'm sure if I grew up there, I would enjoy it all, much like I love the American breakfast.

I like the banger, but not for breakfast.  I had another one the next day, which I'll describe when I get to it, and I loved it in an entirely different combination.  English tea is good, better than U.S. tea.  My wife and I have still not concluded what makes English tea better and why Americans can't seem to imitate it.  We had it for breakfast and then later that day.  She says it is stronger than American and that you can come close with two tea bags.

We still had our rental car, which wasn't due until 1pm.  I had read there was a locker in the train museum.  The National Train Museum is in York.  I've heard only good things about it.  A man in our church has one of the most amazing model trains I've ever seen, taking up his entire two car garage.  His dad was from England and they went to this museum one of the times they visited the U.K. way back.  He highly recommended it and we walked in with our luggage and they said it was only for those touring the museum and only when at the museum.  Most women wouldn't like it.  I'm just saying.  There is a give and take on a trip like this, and I mainly catered in that fashion, because there is enough overlap.

We have a train museum, the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, that is very good, as good as any in the U.S., the train a major factor in California history.  The big four, railroad magnates of the Central Pacific, made their fortune through the transcontinental railroad.  All four of them built palaces on the top of Nob Hill, very famous in San Francisco.  Leland Stanford became governor of California and started Stanford University.   The location of Mark Hopkins's house became the Mark Hopkins hotel, the top of which is famously called the top of the Mark.  The cable car famously travels through this neighborhood with some of the most famous hotels in the city.  The population of California grew rapidly for two reasons, the gold rush and the railroad.  Once the transportation was built, people poured into the state, and its builder, the four tycoons, became rich.

Instead, we paid to put our luggage in storage at the train station and we returned our car.  Right there I had found the previous day the steps to the York wall, the exterior of the old city, and we walked on the top of it all the way to center of the old town, and we took steps down to cross the old bridge over the river Ouse.

York 's history begins with the Romans, founded in AD 71 when 5,000 men of the Ninth Legion set up camp.  Later Constantine came to Britain with his father, the emperor Constantius, in 305, who died in July the following year there.  Constantine was crowned emperor.  In the 10th century York was a Viking capital. William the Conqueror, on his first northern expedition after the Norman Conquest in 1066, built a number of castles across northeastern England, including one at York, and Clifford's Tower, the keep of York Castle, still stands there.  My wife and I walked the steep hill up steps to this high point of the city.

York offers a slice of varied aspects of all of England's history.  The York Minster, which we toured, is one of the largest Cathedrals in all of Northern Europe, the second largest Gothic one.  Below the Minster, in an architectural task of reinforcing the building not long ago, archaeology yielded the Cathedral as the very location of the Roman center in Northern England and in Christian symbols the testimony of Christianity in England to the fourth century.

Probably the most popular part of York is known as The Shambles, which second floor overhangs the road between its timber-framed shops, dating back to the fourteenth century.  The street itself is mentioned in William the Conqueror's Doomsday book of 1086.  We did a lot of window shopping and had afternoon tea at Betty's.  The tea and cakes do not disappoint, even for a large man sitting on a tiny wooden chair with three much smaller women.  Just be sure also to take small bites.  It's the experience.  Remember.

These shambles at York were the model for the shops in J. K. Rowling's novels.  They did give you the impression that you were sent back to medieval times in real life.  York is also one of the major chocolate or confectionery centers of all of England and then the world, the history of "sweets" coming through this town, the Kit-Kat invented here, and Yorkshire the site of the oldest surviving, continuous operating confectionery shop in the world still here.

We got back our luggage and boarded the train to Alnmouth to stay that night on the coast of the North Sea.  At the small station, we stood at the door, waiting for it to open, waiting and waiting with all our luggage.  I was wondering what was happening when the train started again, and learned from the conductor that we had to open the door.  He was very nice.  We could embark at Chathill and take the next train back. The way to open the door on this train was to open the window on the door, reach out the window, and open it from the outside.  Right.  I'll do that the next time.  It took us about 45 minutes longer as a result.  It did yield an interesting conversation with a conductor at the next train station, a man from Scotland.

Our place of stay was in the country on a rural road about 400 meters from the tiny station, more of a train stop.  An older local walked his dog past our odd group.  We traveled very light on this trip, everything carry-on for the entire 3 1/2 weeks.  We arrived at a room for a family of four for that one night.  The next day we would tour Alnwick Castle in the town of Alnwick, pronounced Annick, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.

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