Saturday, October 10, 2009

day 11? 12? - reliable internet again -- need to blog

ok, ive checked my gmail, facebook, messages, twitter, sirtris mail, and voicemail. i have 30 minutes to write a good blog about york, durham/hadrian's wall and day 1 of edinburgh


probably the most picturesque city ive been to in england so far. this is an extraordinarily old and charming city with an amazing walled old city dotted with ruins and a medieval section of the city called the shambles. some of the streets are so narrow that the buildings nearly touch each other. this is definitely a 2 day UK city.

we went to the york history museum which was one of the most interesting museums so far. york is built in the heart of old viking, roman, and normal settlements and each one was built on the other so there are archeological finds aplenty and this museum has em all. it also includes ruins from the old sections of the city. literally, the museum is built on the foundations of the old ruins of the city! as the museum descends there are more and more distinct areas of ruins.

there is also the old norman keep which is comparable to the keep in cardiff castle. its a large circle made of stone. cool. this is right the york castle museum. the keep used to be in the now destroyed york castle. there is a museum that stands which is a definite visit for its inclusion of york from the victorian era to now. there are recreations of kitchens from the 18th century the 1950s as well as vintage tubs and vacuum cleaners. however, the crown jewel of this museum is the 2 recreated victorian streets which need to be seen to believe. yes, ill post pictures soon

finally, i will discuss yorkminster abbey which is considered in the top 4 cathedrals in britain (salisbury, st pauls, westminster being the others). its an architectural marvel! not only is it huge but the extensive crypt is built on the remains of the cathedrals from older civilizations. its interesting. one period stops and another one begins all in a 5 foot height!

the lats night in york was spent on a ghost tour; the original ghost walk of york! it wasnt as scary as new orleans but full of macabre charm. also, the mighty boosh took the same one a year or so ago :) the guide was a delightful old chap with excellent vocal timing and a vincent price like narrative. definitely good for some scares and fun

but sadly we had to leave but en route we stopped off in...


what is durham? there isnt much there. its a posh lil university town but the main is the durham cathedral and castle, two world heritage sites. durham cathedral is considered the most preserved norman style cathedral in the world (their empire was big this is impressive) and is also the final resting place of st cuthbert, the patron saint of pets! prayer to st cuthbert for the cats

i climbed the tower 380 steps up to the top as i have in every cathedral that had an open tower (salisbury, york, st pauls). this is a pretty tough climb but it was worth it for the sites of northern england and north umberland. the old section of the city had the same ancient feel to it that stratford and york did but it was flanked with an ultra modern mall with a bunch of UK chain restaurants (ask, slug and lettuce, nandos, express?). anyway, it was the cathedral that was the main site and see it we did. it was very impressive. the castle was pretty small and not worth the admission price which is why we didnt go in :)

besides, we needed to be off and get to the housesteads roman fort on hadrian's wall.

at this point in the trip, the 4 divided highways ended and the 2 lane carriageway took over and for 90 hellish hilly miles, i drove it and only hit one curb! that is a victory uninitself. also, we began to see sheep. thousands of them. thousands and thousands and thousands of sheep all around us. i wondered if i died and went to heaven and was rewarded with virgin sheep.

we ended up in hexham which was the start of hadrian's wall...or at least so we hoped. we got stuck in rush hour in hexham (its 1 light but what a ridiculous light!) which derailed our plans to get to the roman fort ruins before it closed. however, with a lot of help from our england map (stupid sat nav was useless!) we ended being pointed towards the housesteads roman fort.

finally we arrived at the most preserved of the roman ruins that date back to the 2nd century and despite the site being closed, we climbed to the ruins anyway and snuck in. however, hadrian's wall was completely overtaken with sheep. the sheep invaded and conquered the fort. apparently, the area around the wall is all farmland and sheep graze there. it was adorable! so after a quick frolic (i have picture) and a wander around the ruins, we headed back to the car and onto to edinburgh.

that was the day of our 5 year wedding anniversary and after 2 hours of backroads, we got to edinburgh and found that the main way to get our hotel was closed. the entire city is being uprooted to make way for a tram so after 20 minutes aimless driving in the rain and the dark, we saw the hotel behind closed barriers figured we couldnt to it and parked in a carpark 10 minutes walk away. we got the hotel with all of our heavy luggage and checked in. turns out that they had parking and it was way cheaper than the carpark and cathy forgot her wallet in the car. in short, we had to go back get the car got lost again and arrived very very angry. we both agreed it was a bit of a suprise we didnt break up by the end of it all! not the best way to end our anniversary but a few reasonably priced drinks of good single malt scotch put me in a good mood. sleep fixed cathys mood...i think.

alright, that is it. i wanted to write about edinburgh day 1 but this is really long right now and most of you have probably stopped reading. either way, i have to get a party being thrown by my canadian friend stef for her flatwarming a 10 minute walk from my hotel :) im a popular boy arent i? i have ladies all over the world!