Last weekend Laura and I packed our bags and headed down to York for a couple of days. We did a little bit of sightseeing, a lot of eating and drinking, and had a pretty lovely time exploring a new city. Less than three hours away from Edinburgh by train, it seemed far enough away that it felt like a proper holiday but close enough that it was easy to do in a weekend. Find out what we got up to…
Eat & Drink
Our first port of call after we got off the train was Winner Winner. Located right next to the river, this bar & grill serves up tasty American-style fayre like chicken wings, burgers, ribs and steaks. I went for the chef’s speciality dish, the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, which was crispy fried chicken served with waffles and maple syrup – it was weirdly delicious and I’d definitely recommend it if you fancy trying something different! Laura ordered the Sloppy Joe and we shared a huge basket of tasty little crispy fries. As well as good food, Winner Winner also do cocktails so we had to sample a few of these too. My favourite was a toffee popcorn concoction which came served with a side of actual popcorn!
On Saturday we swithered about going to Byron, but decided we’d rather go somewhere different instead of another burger place. After a quick scan through Yelp and TripAdvisor, we settled on The Blue Bicycle and I think we made an excellent choice. Previously a brothel in a former life, it’s now a picturesque little restaurant overlooking a cobbled street and the River Foss. The food here was amaaaazing. It was on the more expensive side, but not extortionate and the food was definitely worth it. Everything was cooked and presented to perfection, from my scallop and black pudding starter to the sirloin steak main served with a Yorkshire pudding (when in Rome, right?). I’m glad we ended up going here as it was the perfect “special holiday treat” kind of restaurant.
As for drinks, we had Evil Eye Lounge and the House of the Trembling Madness marked out on our to-do list but both were very busy come Saturday afternoon/evening. After a long day wandering round York we decided to just go for the first place we came across which didn’t look too busy, and that happened to be Kennedy’s. It was a fairly standard modern bar, but perfectly nice and we even ventured out onto the roof terrace for a cider in the sunshine. I always try to avoid chain bars or restaurants if I’m exploring a new city, but I must admit we did have a few drinks in the Postern Gate Wetherspoons because it was right next to our hotel and really cheap.
If it’s a fancy afternoon tea you’re after, I’d recommend The Grand Hotel. It’s right next to the station, so seemed like the perfect place for a spot of afternoon tea before we caught the train home. It’s a 5-star hotel so pretty fancy (we discovered trainers weren’t allowed in the dining room so had to do a quick change before anyone noticed!) but it was nice and relaxing and we had probably the nicest waiter of all time. Despite not having had breakfast or lunch, we struggled to finish the afternoon tea because there were so many cakes! As well as mini sandwiches, scones and tea loaf, there were lemon cupcakes, bannoffee cream, chocolate mousse delice, and rhubarb & custard meringue cones. There were plenty of teas to choose from too, and I opted for a rhubarb one.
See & Do
Saturday morning was spent at York Castle Museum. They do a special half price “Access Ticket” for people aged 17-24, so we were able to get in for just £5 each. This was a really interesting museum which had a bit of everything in it – from a Victorian street full of shops to a “Toy Stories” exhibit which had several toys I remember from my childhood in it (I think this means I am old now). There was also a section about the swinging Sixties and a bit about birth, life and death in York throughout the ages. My favourite part was the “1914: When the World Changed” exhibit which is currently on at York Castle Museum until 2018, as the First World War is kind of my specialist subject. It took us around 3 hours to get round the whole museum (plus a quick stop in the cafe for some cake!) which meant we still had plenty of time to fit in other things in the afternoon.
Rather than doing anything specific, we decided just to have a wander round York on Saturday afternoon. We headed to The Shambles and moseyed around the little alleyways and side streets, popping into a few shops as we went. We ended up at York Minster; it was a bit late in the day to bother going inside for a tour so we just admired it from outside instead.
Laura was offered a complimentary stay for two at York Central Travelodge so obviously I tagged along! It’s around a 15-20 minute walk to the train station and within easy walking distance of all the main shopping areas, tourist attractions and lots of bars and restaurants. Our room was nice and clean with comfy twin beds and an en suite bathroom with bath and shower. Hairdryers were available on request from reception, and all the usual amenities like kettle, TV, towels etc were in the room. There was wifi, but it was only free for the first 30 minutes so I didn’t even bother trying to connect – I think free wifi should just be standard in this day and age, but understandable for a budget hotel and it wouldn’t put me off staying here again. The only downside was the fact that breakfast wasn’t a sit-down cooked breakfast but just a breakfast picnic box. We weren’t told about this in advance or even when checking in, and only discovered when we went down on Saturday morning and couldn’t find the dining room! As there’s a Wetherspoons right next door who do cheap cooked breakfasts, if I was staying there again I’d get room only and not bother with the breakfast boxes.
Have you been to York before? What are your top things to do?