English Time Machine: York combines a rich past with modern attractions, pt. 2
York Continued fromTl the 13th and 14th centuries and are carefully maintained and restored. Originally, a moat surrounded the walls. Now daffodils are planted around the wall to add a touch of color in the spring. Despite what is said in the blockbuster blockbuster movie "Braveheart," the Scots never got into York, says Helen Santorsola, our guide. It's only fitting to travel to York by train, catching it at King's Cross Station in London, because the town became the 19th-century 19th-century 19th-century hub of Britain's railway system. Now it's home to the National Railway Museum, the largest railway railway museum in the world. Housed in two huge warehouses near the railway station, the displays range from the earliest prototypes and Queen Victoria's lavish rail car to the latest technology. "Explainers" that's what it says on their name tags will tell you all about the displays. displays. Admission is free. York is a tourist's dream to explore. Although the streets shoot off in different directions and it's easy to get lost, you won't stay lost long because of York's compact size. The narrow streets are crowded, crowded, but the central area of town is pedestrian only. You can stroll the crooked streets by foot. Shops carry a great Walkabout Guide to York to help you on your way. Or you can hop on an open-top open-top open-top bus, take a horse-and-carriage, horse-and-carriage, horse-and-carriage, horse-and-carriage, horse-and-carriage, or get your bearings on a YorkBoat cruise along the River Ouse and its smaller branch, the River Foss, both of which run through town. A gated community Four "bars" form the gateways to the city as they were used to bar the enemies' entrance. Big, heavy, spiky bars were lowered to keep the bad guys out a prototype, of sorts, for today's gated communities. Monk Bar has kept its portcullis (an oak door with iron spikes) in working order (although it has not been let down since 1953), while Walmgate Bar has preserved its barbican, a funnel-like funnel-like funnel-like approach forcing attackers to bunch together. Bootham Bar saw many attacks as it was the main route from Scotland. Micklegate Bar, the royal gateway, is home to the Micklegate Bar Museum. Looming over the city is the nearly 800-year-old 800-year-old 800-year-old 800-year-old 800-year-old York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe with its famous collection of 128 stained-glass stained-glass stained-glass windows, windows, dating from the 12th century. More than half of the stained glass that exists in England is in York, Looming over the city is the nearly 800-year-old 800-year-old 800-year-old 800-year-old 800-year-old York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe with its famous collection of 128 stain-glass stain-glass stain-glass windows. Call Barbara Dunster (973)428-6592 (973)428-6592 (973)428-6592 ' to Place an Ad in this Directory low Rates Prevail!! Travel Agents j' Bus Tours MotelsMotels Bed & Breakfasts Resorts Cruises on ii i urcnm nouee inn Brandon, Vermont In the heart of T "TOfr Vermont at the edge of the Green Mountain National flrSS Forest. Hildna. '4 &i 't I tl blldna. and cross- cross- nST: : country skiing at U our doorstep. fe (502) 247-3078 247-3078 247-3078 vwvv.churcriillhoueeinn.com we are told by a guide as we marvel at the windows within the vast building. The Five Sisters Window dates to 1260 and contains a grayish type of glass known as grisaille. It's said to be the largest area of grisaille glass to have survived anywhere in the world. As big as a tennis court, the Great East Window, constructed between 1405 and 1408, is the largest window of medieval glass in England. The panels illustrate scenes from the Old Testament and the book of Revelation. Lightning struck the south transept of the Minster in 1984, the day after a controversial bishop had been consecrated there. Some saw it as divine judgment. As a result, the Rose Window was badly damaged, damaged, with glass cracking into 40,000 pieces. Fortunately, the leading leading recently had been replaced so no glass was actually lost; it just had to be pieced back together. The guide tells us it is basically held together with Super Glue. An ancient site The present Minster was constructed constructed on the site of a former Norman cathedral, which was built on the site of a former Roman fort. Although the Minster is teeming with tourists, a prayer is said over the loudspeaker every hour, "to remind people that it still is used as a place of worship instead of merely merely a tourist destination," the guide says. The chattering guests are silenced by the reverent moment. Off to one corner is the chapter house, a roundish room with seats all along the wall. Above each seat is a carved figure, each with a different different expression, from funny to grotesque. This is where chapter members met to discuss the means for running running the mission. "Money is not a sacred subject so it was discussed in the chapter house," our guide tells us. In addition to the Minster, York still has 19 medieval churches. Another familiar York landmark is Clifford's Tower, which sits high atop a grassy mound on the south end of town. The steep climb up the steps, as well as a lack of time, keeps us from exploring this remaining main tower of York Castle, built about 1250. The York Castle Museum, housed in old prison buildings, looks at life in the city from 1580 to 1980. John Kirk, a country doctor from North Yorkshire in the 1890s to 1920s, wanted to preserve life the way it was. The variety here is vast, including including re-created re-created re-created Victorian streets, period rooms and the cell of highwayman highwayman Dick Turpin. It also houses the 1,200-year-old 1,200-year-old 1,200-year-old 1,200-year-old 1,200-year-old York Helmet, considered considered the finest Anglo-Saxon Anglo-Saxon Anglo-Saxon head armor found to date. tYou could spend hours, even a full day, studying all the museum has to offer. York also is known for its narrow little street called The Shambles. It's the name traditionally given to streets of butchers' shops and slaughterhouses, but York's is probably probably the best preserved and most famous. The short, dark street is narrow by design, to keep fresh meat out of direct sunlight. Now, instead of slabs of sirloin, buildings are filled with tony specialty stores, coffee shops and pubs. If eerie things seem to happen to you here, there could be a reason. York is supposed to have more ghosts than any other European city, and the town offers several ghost walks. Our ghost walk meets outside King's Arms pub along the Ouse River, with scullers methodically working their way past as we gathered. gathered. The ghost guide, Mark Graham, is decked out in full black cape and cane. "All the ghost stories are true," he tells us in the beginning. "Some more so than others." A few of York's other attractions worth checking out: The Regimental Museum gives insight into military history from 1685. The Yorkshire Museum covers 1,000 years of the region's heritage and features the Middleham Jewel. The York City Art Gallery offers 600 years of European paint ing and an outstanding collection of studio pottery. York Dungeon looks at the darker side of life, including man's inhumanity over the past 2,000 years. B The Fairfax House, a distinguished distinguished Georgian town house, offers an 18th-century 18th-century 18th-century interior and exhibitions. For culture there is the Grand Opera House, the Theatre Royal and the Barbican Centre. Time travel machine Although York is a step back in time, the official time travel machine is at the Jorvik Viking Center in the newer Coppergate area of York. Here, an entire Viking village from 1,000 years ago was discovered discovered in the 1970s. Once the importance importance of the site was realized, archaeologists were given five years to excavate the remains before the( area was developed. The dig uncovered an extensive Viking settlement on the bank of the River Foss. It's the largest collection collection of 10th-century 10th-century 10th-century objects and artifacts ever found in Britain. Archaeologists sifted through 5 tons of pottery and tile and 20,000 small objects of metal, bone, stone, glass, wood and leather. More than 15,000 artifacts worth keeping were unearthed, including a Saxon helmet, which is on display display across town in the Castle Museum. Guests venture below the center, climb aboard time-travel time-travel time-travel cars (similar (similar to open-air open-air open-air railcars at Disneyland) facing backwards, symbolizing symbolizing the journey back in time. At first, the concept seems hokey almost Disneyesque for such an important find. But when the cars turn around and travel forward through a re-created re-created re-created Viking village, you are appropriately whisked into the past. Time has stopped on an October day in A.D. 948 along a typical Viking street. The time cars weave between thatched dwellings with kids playing, dogs barking, people working. The re-creation re-creation re-creation is multisenso-ry: multisenso-ry: multisenso-ry: Not only do you experience the sights and sounds, but you also get the full benefit of the smells which are not always pleasant. When you leave the . village behind, you return to 1980 and the dig that provided the evidence. After exiting your time car, take time to explore some of the dig's most important finds. And when you leave the Viking center, be sure to continue exploring exploring York, which is still filled with other important finds.