January 2, 2018

England, Day Eight-York

On our second day in York, and our first full day to explore, we decided to tour the city. We first filled our stomachs full with the ever so wonderful english breakfast and tea. We stole two croissants for later (and by stole, we just took them off our plates). We then headed back to our room to finish getting ready.

We had to layer up quite a bit as York was having a particularly blustery day, but the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful blue. We did the local tour where locals guide you through the city, filling you with information about the history of York. It was almost a 3 hour tour..completely outside but absolutely enjoyable. My parents and I did the same tour 3 years ago, but we went when it was during rain and windy, let's just say the tour was much much shorter. So I learned a lot more this time around. And we even went into a middle age church that had the original box pews. It was beautiful in an eerie yet wonderful way.

After the tour, my sister and I decided to find somewhere to eat. We wandered the shambles and tried to not run into the loads of people that were everywhere. We walked and walked and walked and couldn't decide on where to eat, that was until we passed a small tea room that no tourists were in. So we stopped there, ate tea cakes and drank tea. We tried to warm up a bit since it was slightly chilly outside. After lunch, we had planned on visiting the viking museum as it was recommended and my sister and I are extremely into Viking stuff (thanks The Last Kingdom). It was a bit tricky to find, but we located it, and were greeted by several viking dressed men, who scared me a bit (thanks The Last Kingdom). The museum was awesome, it had a ton of relics, and then you get on a ride to tour the "Viking Village" that used to be in York. It was like riding a child's ride at the fair, very slow, and very calm. But a great way to get off our feet and learn about the vikings that once lived in York. The ride drops you on the other side of the museum where you can view skeletons (my personal favorite). We even got to hold some viking relics. SO COOL. It was super fun!

Once out of the museum, we wandered around the town again. I think we were looking for something, but not sure what we were looking for. We ended up in a Tesco Express because we needed more snacks and wanted to find caramel digestives as we were finding it tricky to locate them. I think we ended up buying waters, candy, and more digestives. Then, outside we went. We still had daylight and some time before our dinner plans. The train museum (as it's free and super cool) was next on the list. It was a bit of a walk to get there, and Annie didn't believe I knew where I was going, but I knew. What did she know though, she had never been there before and I had...basically we found it.

We ended up getting there 30 minutes before close, so the viewing was speedy and brief. But we saw a load of trains, and they were the same as the one's I had seen before, obviously. We left the museum 5 minutes before they closed. We walked back to York and decided to go to The House of Trembling Madness for dinner. IT IS THE COOLEST PUB EVER. I had been before, which is how I knew where to locate it since it's hidden and not a ton of tourists know about it. Basically you walk into a liquor store, past the till and up the stairs. And then you are taken back into this other world. It's like medieval ages all over again. You have to be aggressive with your table choice. No one will greet you and no one seats you. So if you see someone moving, GRAB THE TABLE! We ended up in the snug after an hour of waiting and another couple stealing the table (they came in well after we had been there). We ordered our food and drinks. Then waited, what seemed like another hour, for our meal. But it was soooo worth it. I ordered the beef and lamb stew complete with hearty bread and a glass of wine. I can't remember what Annie ordered but we were both full to the brim and ready for sleeping forever. I began to not feel super great by the end of the evening, so we called it a night and after a shower, I climbed into bed to watch another episode of The Great British Bake Off and Come Dine With Me. Annie decided she would head out that night to go to the pub for their music night. I stayed in bed and tried to sleep.

She came home about 11 PM and said she had an awesome time at the pub, which I was relieved because I was playing visions of her being kidnapped or feeling alone the whole time she was gone. So phewwwwww.

And I still didn't feel too great.

December 23, 2017

England, Day Seven-York

Ah the York day.

We woke up a bit tired and a bit sluggish, but we had a train to catch and no time to doddle. We made a quick breakfast and skeedoodled out the door with luggage in hand. We caught the tube, to the train, caught the train, and sat down relieved that we had made all the right transportation options.
The train was a bit rocky and we ate our food immediately, but other than that it was a great train trip. The countryside was absolutely gorgeous. Annie read up on some Rick Steves travel stuff while I listened to my music and stared out at the sheep and cathedrals gracing the hillsides.

Two hours later we arrived in York. And I knew it would be much colder than London, as previous experience 3 years prior (I was wearing a dress and had to do a quick change in the restroom.). We bundled up a little more and headed out to find our b&b. It always feels awkward dragging one's luggage through the streets and trying to navigate your way past slow and fast walkers. But we managed, through chattering teeth, we managed.

Once we made it to the b&b, and had a slight awkward interaction with the employee, we put our bags down, had a cup of tea, grabbed another layer of clothing and decided to go wander the town. I believe we went to the shambles, and just walked around taking loads of photos. We had 3 nights in York so we felt less pressure to see everything, plus I had been there before, so I had a slight handle on what we needed to see.

After wandering for a while, we went to York Minster for the evensong service. Which we were late to. But it's okay, we just had to wait for everyone to enter the church (choir and leaders) and then we climbed into the back of the church. We sang beautiful hymns and just took it all in. It was absolutely wonderful.

After the service, we were absolutely starving. We couldn't decide where to eat, but we ended up finding a pub on the way back to our b&b. Funny thing, we stumbled into the exact same pub that my parents and I had stumbled into on our first night too. We grabbed a table, and ordered some fabulous food. I ordered a curry dish, Annie ordered something else (I can't remember). We each ordered from the bar as well, cheers ourselves and continued with announcing loudly and as often as we could that we were sisters. The bartender was massively attractive. And then I realized he looked exactly like a guy I dated and I was like, oh that's why I think you are attractive. Cool. But wait, YOU'RE BRITISH. EVEN BETTER.

After dinner, we headed home, stopping off at Sainsburys to get some nibblets and peruse the aisles. We didn't find much but we found some stuff. After that, we headed home and watched some classic british television, facetimed our parents who were in France, and then we hit the hay. We had a busy day planned for the next day. But the first day in York was a success.

Love that beautiful city.

December 18, 2017

England, Day Six-Salisbury to London

This was our last morning in Salisbury. We had to catch an earlier train back to London as we had plans to see our friend that night and the following day we were headed to York. But here's what the day looked like...

We had packed our bags the night before, so there was only a short amount of rummage and bed checking before checking out of the b&B. BUT FIRST BREAKFAST! We signed up for an earlier time to eat since my sister desperately wanted to visit the Saturday morning market. We devoured our breakfast, chatted with the other guests at the table, and then checked out of the b&b. They kindly allowed us to leave our bags as we meandered through the town. It was bit colder that morning and so our walk around the market was quick. We didn't end up buying anything but we did enjoy people watching. We headed back to the b&b after an hour, said our goodbyes to the hosts who then told us, "You were such kind girls, your mother would be so proud." I love b&b hosts so much! We thanked them, and off we went to the train station, this time a bit more confident in the direction we needed to head and much more aware of traffic patterns...always look right then left.

Once we arrived at the station we weaseled our way to our platform where there was a very large crowd of people waiting, we had no where to sit and had about 45 minutes to wait. A lovely couple moved their stuff over and offered us a seat (I feel like this is a rarity in England, like people are wonderful and much more manner oriented but still I appreciate the gestures greatly). Our train arrived sooner than we expected and on we went. We found a table seat (WOO WOO) and put our luggage on the rack. YAY! Let's go to LONDON BAYBAY!

After 2 stops, the train was jam-packed. I forgot it was Saturday, and that well we were headed into London with the rest of the Southern folks. It was unreal how crowded it was. Two elderly women got aboard and my sister very kindly offered them our seats. This was after about 10 minutes of her whispering to me "Should we give them our seats? I think we should. Should I go ask them?" I retorted with, "Yes we should, but wait until they've moved down a bit as you cannot get their attention. It'll be fine we still have another hour to London." Eventually we caught their attention and they were ever so grateful. I was ever so grateful not to sit across from teenagers who looked annoyed the whole train ride. So there my sister and I stood for the next hour. Our bodies wobbling back and forth, being squished into men and women. Grabbing seats or anything to help hold me steady. One stop before the London stop nearly 1/2 the passengers disembarked. Which was such a relief. We snagged two seats and felt less wobbly. 10 minutes later we arrived at Waterloo.

The traffic and chaos at the station on a Saturday was very undesirable. We lost each other for a second and then regrouped at the underground. Unfortunately, the line we thought we would be taking was closed, hence the mass crowds and annoyed faces. We found a different route, a much longer, a transfer loaded route, but it would have to be the option since we had a long journey anyways. We survived it, and luckily made it back to our friend's flat in one piece, sweaty and tired piece albeit but a piece nonetheless.

We were absolutely exhausted from traveling and so we made ourselves a cup of tea and toast and settled down to watch The Crown. We also cleaned up a bit, removed items from our suitcases but didn't entirely unpack as we were heading to York in the morning. We just had some down time. It's very likely we did something else, but I think we decided to lay low since we hadn't really done that at all. We made plans with our friend David, to meet in Shoreditch after his acting class. Since we didn't have service outside of wifi we had to make sure we had all the plans set before setting out for the evening. We got dressed (as shoreditchy/londony as we could), put some face on and looked much more human. And off we went!

I hadn't seen David since my study abroad days 3 years prior, and my sister hadn't seen him since 2012 when we went to England and stayed with him in Cambridge. Here's the thing about David, he's an absolute gem. Like hilarious, but also like a little brother who just likes to be the trouble maker/annoying one. He's basically my sister in male form. So obviously once we met 5 years ago, we were like uh yeah this'll do. We adore him and could not wait to see him.

We waited outside the studio for what seemed like ages. It's all good, except a man came up and hit on us and we couldn't not look at him I mean he was in our face, but we tried our best to brush him off. We also realized we would NEVER be cool enough for Shoreditch. Like people are ridiculously cool, hipster, homeless, 90's grunge mixed with 60's vibes up in there. Nevertheless, we were there. David eventually came outside, we nearly leaped across the road, hugged and then immediately started in on the sarcastic remarks and laughter.

We headed to Wagamamas for dinz. We all ordered the exact same thing because we are identical. Chicken Katsu Curry obv. We chatted for ages, finished our meal and then it was on to a night out. Annie and I had not gone out in London yet this trip, so we were thrilled to be back in it again. David wanted to take us to a cool rooftop bar. We knew it would be pricey, but we were also like "When in Rome." Plus the view was stellar. And then it rained. So after about 45 minutes of sitting in the small drizzle and freezing, we decided to head inside. And then we decided to leave. Because 28 pounds for two drinks is not worth the view.

We found a random bar for the evening where there was loads of young folks like us and a jam packed bar. It was a blast and a half. We played foosball, had some drinks, laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. Until about 1 AM, to which we decided we should catch an uber and head home. And so we did. It was a hilarious evening and such a great catch up with our friend!

November 21, 2017

England, Day Five-Salisbury

Salisbury is perfect.
And on the second day in Salisbury we:

-Climbed the cathedral and up the spire
-Went for high tea
-I felt sick
-Went back and down for a second
-Wandered the town again
-Found a restaurant-NOT a pub to eat at
-Got lost
-Went to a very old pub for drinks after dinner
-Made it back to the b&b for showers and sleep
My favorite thing to do in England-drink tea and stare out the window at the english world. Also note the church spire in the background...yeah I climbed that.

Here's the day with a little more detail:

We awoke (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this...), threw on our clothes and headed down to the family table for breakfast. They stagger all the guests so each guest has a 15 minute increment time slot. We were first served tea, then toast, then jam and butter, fresh fruit salad (this was available upon arrival, the host made it), and then our breakfast was placed infront of our faces. I was in heaven. Everything tasted good. And everything was devoured. We chatted with the guests, again placing "my sister" or "our parents" in as many statements or convos as possible. Everyone was very friendly and it was very enjoyable.

Me outside of the cathedral (taken on the 1st day in Salisbury)
Me in the cathedral
After breakfast, we finished getting ready, and then we headed to the church to catch the next tour. I forgot to mention this for the previous post, but we did wander the church yard the day before. The church is home to one of the magna-cartas and therefore we took a peak at it and this very adorable elderly man told us all the history behind it and I felt like I was listening to my grandpa talk and it made me tear up. So I left the tent....where the magna-cartas were held. ANYWAYS, back to this post. We paid, went inside and quickly wander the church before meeting up with our tour group. Up into the spire we went. It was honestly one of the best cathedral tours I have done. We learned how old the church was, when certain parts were finished, and what parts had been reinforced or redone throughout the 800 years it has been sitting on the grounds of Salisbury. Absolutely wonderful. I may write about the cathedral separately because it was just so interesting and definitely would eat up this whole post. Basically we learned a ton, I got height sickness due to my fear of heights and the fact that I hate climbing things and then looking up...barf....my palms are sweating right now. I did get a pin though!! "I made it to the top!" I currently is pinned on my kitchen recipe book holder.
Up in the spire, 200 FT UP.

Now, how did I get sick? Well in these cathedrals there are spiral stairs, and loads of them....that's what made me nauseous. Just looking at something spinning...yuck.

We finished the tour 2 hours later and decided to get tea at the church cafe. We ordered a pot of tea and split a scone with jam. I think we got a brownie, or we thought about it. I can't remember. But we did have jam, clotted cream, and SCONES. So obviously I was very very happy. Still a bit motion sickness, but happy.
In the cloisters
View from the above photo.
The Magna Carta is kept here.
The flooring from the photo above. Stunning.
After touring the church, my sister and I decided to do the town walk that our host had suggested and made for guests. That ate up a good hour or two. It was fun and full of pretty old buildings. Honestly, my sister and I could not get enough of the old buildings. There was still a lot of panic when we would have to cross the road, and sometimes we lucked out with someone else crossing with us. Although in England, people don't wait for the "green man" to tell them to cross. If there are no cars, then you just go. We got the hang of it towards the middle of the trip.
This houses widowed or unmarried women
A beautiful driveway
Just beautiful.
We were both pretty hungry and obviously that meant we couldn't agree on where to eat or what to eat. We managed to find a non-pub option, which was italian. It was actually super good and we were seated immediately considering that it was Friday night and packed. We split pizza and a salad, I also ordered fries. We both got the house wines. It was reasonably priced and everyone was so nice. It was a good option, but we still wish we had gone back to the pub we went to the night before, (although, we did check and the hottie servers weren't there that night, hence the other option...). We finished up and decided the night was young and we should go find the pub that my sister's friend recommended us try out since it was the oldest pub in Salisbury. We got lost.
Salisbury is adorable.
We got lost trying to find the place. We had passed by it multiple times during the daylight, but at night we were so turned around. We finally found it after about 30 minutes of walking in circles. Again, we had no idea if we just seated ourselves or if we were supposed to wait. We went with seating ourselves and then were stopped by the waitress who then cleared a table in a very very small snug with 4 crowded tables. We decided to stand out in the hall (narrow as ever) while we waited. We felt very very warm and awkward. Because we are. We scrambled to the seats, my sister went to get drinks and I sat there trying not to get on my phone, but I decided to bite the bullet and use it since I felt odd just sitting in the corner. I felt like Cameron Diaz in The Holiday when she's waiting for Jude Law's character to spot her in the pub except I was with my sister and I was waiting for my drink not Law. Sadly.

She finally returned and we cheers'ed ourselves, and then everyone in the small confined snug left. And then a drunk solo man walked in and started heavily breathing next to my sister (he was at the table next to us and very very drunk). My sister and I were trying to not explode from laughing but it was hilarious and so Annie was like trying to suggest what to do the next day and I couldn't contain my laughter. AT. ALL. I was legit crying. My sides hurt. And I could not breathe. My sister grabbed a book on landscape in Salisbury to not join in on my laughter but she was failing miserably too. We eventually finished our drinks and scampered out of the room as to avoid anymore of the drunken man breathing thing.

We made it back to the b&b, showered, watched Escape to the Country on TELEVISION. Ate digestives, did face masks, packed our stuff and went to sleep.

It was a great day.

November 15, 2017

England, Day Four- Salisbury

Ah, the 4th day in England. This was, in my mind, the beginning of our trip. We had actual reservations at a B&B and that meant a full english breakfast in the morning along with loads of tea and wanderings around a cute town. I was very excited/very nervous because I had done all the bookings this trip and I just felt a bit responsible for everything.

We headed to the station, bought our tickets (next time we def need to get a rail pass) and waited for the next train to Salisbury. Obviously this meant we had time to get money out of the ATM and get some food for the train. We caught the right train this time, no overground for us. HA!

Once on the extremely empty train, we headed south. I was reminded, on that train journey,  why I love England. It's those countryside hills and pastures. I LOVE THEM. Everything about them makes  my insides just twirl with happiness. It was about an hour and a half train journey and then we arrived in Salisbury.

The B&B hosts had give me walking directions from the station, which was easy to follow...I thought. See it was easy to follow, but the hosts didn't give me instruction on how to handle my second guessing when you have a sister who is overly worried and very directionally challenged...I managed though. I continually checked the directions every five seconds because my sister was wheeling her bag behind me going, "Uh, are you sure this is the right direction? We should be heading the other way...' 'This is a residential area, are you sure this is right?', 'Katie, do you know where you're going? This doesn't look right to me...'" My favorite quote of hers was when we reached St. Mary's Cathedral and my sister goes, "No this is not the Salisbury cathedral, this is St. Mary's, we need to be by the Salisbury Cathedral. This is the wrong direction. Are you sure you know where you're going?".  The thing is, St. Mary's is Salisbury Cathedral. Salisbury is St. Mary's Cathedral. My sister was beyond convinced she knew she was right, even though neither of us had ever been to Salisbury before. There is only one giant cathedral in Salisbury...and I have already mentioned it was St. Mary's...

ANYWAYS. After 15 minutes of dragging our suitcases behind us, going down cobbled streets and trying to still adjust to the way of traffic, we found ourselves going, "WOW! Oh this is so adorable!', 'This is so cute!'" We were so so so excited to be in Salisbury. It was absolutely charm central. We made it to the B&B, and met the nicest B&B hosts (besides Sally in Chipping Campden circa 2012). Our host Steve told us all about what there was to do and see in Salisbury and then he carried our luggage up 3 flights of stairs to the top of the 17th century Georgian home. We thanked him, put our suitcases down, flopped on our beds. GOOD NEWS WE DIDN'T HAVE TO SHARE BEDS!!! Annie offered to make some tea, we opened our digestives, and looked out the window. WOW. What a view. There, just out our window was the most beautiful view of the cathedral. We just stared and drank our tea and stared some more.

After unpacking and settling in, we layered up and headed out to explore some of Salisbury before Evensong that evening. We found a bench by the church and people watched while eating our lunch. When we finished eating, we wandered. One of my sister and mine's favorite things to do when in a new city is to go down as many streets and alleys we can find to try and orient ourselves and potentially stumbled upon something magical. We took a lot of photos, and then decided to pop into the local Sainsbury to buy more digestives, and find all the candy we had been dreaming about before leaving for England. Maoam's, munchies, tangfastics...etc. We headed back to the B&B, dropped off our candy, and headed to Evensong. It was an absolutely beautiful service with the men's choir singing. After church, we went to the BEST pub I have been to...

We decided not to wander too far since we were hungry and tired. We went to the pub recommended to us by our hosts and grabbed a table by the window. My sister and I intentionally try our best to not look like a couple, so in these situations we tend to reference each other as "my sister" more than anything else. We also mention our "Mom and dad" a lot too. Anyways, basically our waiter was DREAMY. Like light blue button down, dark fitted denim, blonde, TALL, british waiter. We started giggling uncontrollably after he left. Not to mention the bartender was also dreamy. The food was phenomenal. And with stomachs and eyes full of loveliness, we headed back to the b&b. We contemplated going back the next night for dinner, but we didn't see the same waiters when we walked past....

That was our first day in Salisbury. We loved it. We climbed into our beds and watched Escape to the Country on the TV instead of catching old episodes on youtube. The best part was that our window had that enchanting view of the cathedral spire at night.