Sunday, August 4, 2013

How To Spend an Impromptu Day in York

I learned two very valuable lessons during an unexpected extreme change in weather during our camping trip to the North Yorkshire coast a few weeks ago.

1) Never trust the weather forecast, especially in England.

For a week leading up to our trip, we were assured of 80 degree days, sunny skies, and not a rain drop in sight. I got to work researching beachside restaurants, outdoor adventures, and fully embraced a weekend of wonderful weather. I never considered what we'd do if this forecast didn't play out as expected. (I know, I know, I can hear the laughter of every British person who ever reads this... Such a naive American expat I am!)

2) Embrace the lack of plans.

Here is where my husband excels and I struggle. When we woke up to temperatures in the low 50s and fog clinging to everything, I was frustrated and wanted to throw in the towel on the weekend. I said we should pack up our campsite and start the drive home. My husband reluctantly agreed.

But once we were on the road, he suggested we stop in York. Lots of people have suggested we plan a long weekend here, which we had (and still have) every intention of doing. But since we were passing right through, why not spend a few hours walking around, he thought. Such a smart guy.

And what a time we had, in just our brief time there. Keep in mind we didn't know a bit about the city before arriving (and still know very little!) Here's a taste of what we experienced.

 Feeling awestruck by the ferris wheel.

 Making plans to attack York, one shoulder-ride at a time.

 Working on his mastery of walking up and down stairs on the castle grounds.

Playing tag in front of centuries-old monastery ruins.

Here are a few tips if you find yourself unexpectedly in York like we did.
  • Park in the city centre. We plan to take a train for our next trip, but since we were in the car, we were tempted to take advantage of the park and ride options advertised on the highway leading into York. I'm glad we opted to drive right into the heart of the city instead. Parking was reasonable (about 8 pounds to park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and the city was easy to navigate with our sat nav.
  • Grab a map from the hop on/hop off buses. You'll see posted map signs around the city, but it was nice to have something we could carry. Plus, the touristy nature of this bus map meant the highlights for a visitor were clearly marked.
  • Let the weather dictate how you spend your time. By the time we got to York mid-morning, the weather had cleared and it was sunny and 70. So we skipped the countless museums we walked by in favor of a stroll along the River Ouse and playtime in the Museum Gardens. No doubt, given that it's England, we'll spend some rainy days here, which is when we plan to go museum hopping.
I hope to do a proper post (or three or seven) on future visits to York, when I've researched our options and know our way around a bit better. But I'm glad my husband convinced me to allow serendipity to take over so we could experience a wonderful, unplanned day in such a magical place.

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walking on Travels and Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.