With 14+ hours of sleep behind us we made our way into the BEAUTIFUL town of Cambridge–a town in which I hope to one day live or at the very least spend a bit more time. The town besides the many colleges is home to countless beautiful old buildings, churches, cobblestone streets, squares, alleyways, and arcades. A river divides the historic portion of town and punts are available for hire. Although we decided to skip the punt tour, we walked along the river for quite a while and it was truly magnificent. Boats were moored along the edges and flowers blanketed the banks. It was one of the more beautiful places I have ever been!
The following day we set off further north for York and arrived 3 trains later in the walled city of York just before dinner. We checked into our hostel, The Fort Boutique Hostel, which was the nicest and most affordable hostel that I have ever seen! We were on the top floor in a mini apartment. There were 2 rooms each with 2 bunk beds and a TV, a full kitchen, and a bathroom. It was really nice and the first opportunity we have had to really cook since we arrived. Erik’s foot was bothering him so he had a rest while I went out to explore and pick up dinner. I am a weak soul and wound up coming back with Fish and Chips and beer, but it was a good meal and probably one of the cheaper dinners we had had up to that point so oh well. We were still in “Yay we are on vacation” mode and haven’t started counting pennies but we are trying when we have the chance and went out to the grocery later that night to pick up breakfast and lunch foods.
We met a really nice girl, Olivia, an 18-year-old from Melbourne, Australia and shared a bottle of wine while we chatted about our trips and shared the information we had each researched/discovered thus far. She was a great help and gave us some great advice on what to do in York as well as on how to save money on our train trips.
We spent the next day exploring the town, walking atop the city wall, taking a tour of the Minster, exploring the city parks, window shopping, and walking along the river. Both of us agree that the York Minster was our favorite part of our stay and the highlight of the trip thus far. It is an amazing and breathtaking building that took over 250 years to built and was constructed in 3 different architectural styles. I am not a religious person but walking around in the York Minster made me wish that I was, as I said at the time I have never seen a building that made me want to cry as much as this one did. It was an incredible experience and not one that either of us are soon to forget!
We had a slight complication with our train and realized that it would be dramatically cheaper to stay in York another night, so we did. Travelers Note: in the UK ALWAYS book trains at least 24 hrs ahead or the price doubles!
We spent the next day walking the remaining 2 portions on the city wall, and we went on a tour of the York Brewery. Having worked this past harvest in a winery and growing up in a wine family It is safe to say that I know a fair amount about wine, but embarrassingly little about beer. It was very informative and I was surprised to see just how similar the wine and beer making processes are. We went grocery shopping again, made dinner, drank a bit of wine and relaxed a bit so we were ready to head off to Edinburgh, Scotland (a change in the original plan) in the morning.
Inside Edinburgh Castle
We spent a few hours in the morning the following day in York before heading off. We didn’t get to Edinburgh until later in the night and decided to grab dinner at a pub and then head back to the hostel for a drink and a little pool before joining the Pub Crawl the hostel had going that night. We had a great night, met a few Brazilian girls and a guy from Malaysia while playing pool and then a few Americans, Australians, and an English guy and Canadian girl on the Pub Crawl. It was a really fun and really late night and Erik had a bit of trouble getting up in the morning. I wasn’t in much better shape but we had made plans to meet up with an American Madelyn and the Canadian girl Allegra in the morning to go sightseeing so I got up and struggled through.
Allegra with a princess crown inside the castle
Edinburgh is another beautiful city and after I got a little coffee in me, we set off for the Edinburgh Castle–a must see
when in the area. We spent several hours exploring the interior of the castle, saw the Crown Jewels of Scotland, visited a number of museums about the Scottish military, went through a Prisoners of War exhibit, witnessed the cannon sounding ceremony, and walked through the royal chambers. It was all very impressive and while pricey definitely worth the cost! We the left the castle and found Erik wandering the Royal Mile (the main historic part of town) in search of us. We all went to Oink for lunch and then to The Real Mary Kings Close, a tour of the underground city that was built beneath the Royal Mile. Now I am a bit claustrophobic but it was an amazing experience and truly astounding that people lived in the terrible cramped, disease ridden conditions under the city of Edinburgh. After that it was off to the Scotch Whiskey Experience where Madelyn, Erik, and I learned how whiskey was made viewed the largest collection of Scottish Whiskey in the world, and had a tasking. I am not a big whiskey drinker but it was so interesting to now be able to compare whiskey, beer, and wine production. We met up with Allegra again for a pub dinner before heading back to the hostel.
Edinburgh Castle Church
Tomorrow we have a few hours in the morning before our train to Leeds and are hoping to see Tom Riddles grave (the grave that inspired Lord Voldemort’s name), the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books, and the maybe anotherScottish historic site–pictures to come soon!
Erik at the Scotch Whisky Experience