Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A York Kind of Birthday

I'll never forget Little Arrow's first birthday party. I held back tears through the entire night, not because my baby was turning 1, but because my husband and I had recently learned that we'd likely be moving to England. I was excited about the move, but we hadn't yet told our families, and as they gathered around our dining room table to sing Happy Birthday, I knew it would be his last family party for a while.

That's the trade-off on this expat thing. Leaving the life you know and love behind for a few years of incredible, exotic moments. We traded birthday parties with the family we miss so much for foreign museums and medieval gardens. Like Little Arrow celebrating his third birthday this past winter by spending the day in the beautiful, ancient city of York.

Our first stop (and quite frankly, what could have easily been our only stop of the day, as it's so big and so much fun) was the National Railway Museum. This is one of those museums that marries children's activities with adult fascinations extremely well. There was plenty for the boys to see and do that they found completely interesting, yet things my husband and I could learn from and enjoy also. Hands-on, but not in a way that deters grown ups without children from also visiting.

Like I said, our day in York could have easily consisted of only this museum. But since we were here, we wanted to see more. (We'd only been one other time, when we were passing through the city en route from a camping trip.)

York is the perfect walkable city. We started by tackling a portion of the old Roman walls, where we could also admire the River Ouse. Then we headed for the shopping area known as the Shambles where the alleyway is so narrow you can literally touch both sides as you walk through it. (Needless to say I don't have photos of that... too busy shepherding small children through narrow walkways.) Street performers abound here, and the boys were equally fascinated by it all.

And we ended on a high note with a stop at York Minster. It's the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, so just taking a look at it from all sides meant we easily burned off those chocolate ice cream cones we also indulged in (we were celebrating a birthday, after all!)

There are many places I hope we get to see again around England before our time here is over and we're once again blowing out candles with our family singing Happy Birthday to our boys. And York is definitely at the top of that list.