As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, A and I went back to York midway through June for a quick little holiday. We spent four days in the city, and while A got to see his friends and we both got to see Amy, I also got to make my peace with York. I wrote about how I struggled with the city a while back, and the momentary feelings of terror abated on this visit. I got to appreciate York without feeling wild insecurity, and I'm thankful I got to see it with new eyes.
We stayed at an airbnb flat in a very cute, cottage-like house near the river that made us walk through the Museum Gardens to-and-from town. It was extremely charming, and I was happy for the scenic walks that resulted from it. I have no idea why A didn't take me into the gardens in the autumn, but I at least got to discover something new this time around. I'm just sad that there weren't more flowers to see.
Easily, my favorite thing about traveling is splurging on breakfasts. York is a place that certainly makes that easy to do, and on our first morning in town, we went to Brew & Brownie, an old favorite coffee shop from the autumn that has incredible pancake stacks as well as very good coffee. I was very happy, as was A as he got to have a full English breakfast (which he arguably loves even more than I love pancakes). We were so full afterwards that we didn't eat again until late that night when we went to Byron. (Byron & I are another story.)
After our Brew & Brownie breakfast, we went to track down a sweatshirt for me (it was freezing in our airbnb), visited Waterstones, and then went to the Minster for what was arguably the point of our visit: the Mystery Plays. I've studied my fair share of the York plays over the past few months in my latest Medieval seminar, and A's read a few of his own, so we were both excited to see the plays acted out. They put the plays on every other June in York, but they hadn't performed them in the Minster since 2000, so we were quite lucky to go this year. A big part of the Minster was transformed into a stage, and the plays were very engagingly put on. I don't know what I was expecting really, but a part of me was afraid that they were in danger of being dull. I don't know why I thought that exactly seeing as medieval drama tends to be quite entertaining, but eh. I think a part of me has been slowly rejecting medieval lit since my burn out, and that lowered my expectations. I am quite glad that they were lowered though, because I was blown away by the performance. Everything was vividly imagined and staged, and though the play took almost four hours (with a short interval), it still went by rather quickly as just about every moment was of interest. No doubt my non-religious upbringing and lack of familiarity with the plays I hadn't studied helped as they meant that I wasn't familiar with all of the Bible stories being put on.
The one downside to the trip this time was that it was quite cold. We were extremely lucky that it didn't rain even though thunderstorms and near-constant rain were promised every moment of the trip, but it was still humid and chilly. I ended up wearing A's coat for much of the trip, and while I'm convinced I looked terrible, it made the weather much more bearable. Plus, there's something ridiculously satisfying about wearing your boyfriend's coat.
Our third day we spent at Castle Howard with Amy (which you can read about here), but we spent our fourth going to a few of our favorite places. We went to The Perky Peacock after breakfast, a cute coffee shop in a medieval tower on the river that I think is quite possibly the cutest coffee shop I've been to. We then went to Minster Gate Bookshop (where I bought the hilariously – and misleadingly – titled Jane Austen's Erotic Advice), picked out a birthday present for A's mother at Oliver Bonas, and then had lunch at The House of Trembling Madness. I started eating meat again a couple of weeks ago as my body's been too weak, despite medication and supplements, with my constantly low blood pressure and whatnot, and I had a beef burger for the first time in years. I'm still thinking about how incredible it was. It's quite sad that the place is apparently closing at the end of the year, because it's an atmospheric gem.
We ran to catch our train after lunch, and our journey to Manchester Airport was thankfully event-free. I had the worst journey of my life on my way back from York in late November, and I still shudder to think about it (think trees falling on train tracks, tram rides through unknown cities, canceled flights, and airport evacuations). Our visit ended as pleasantly as it began and was throughout, and I'm looking forward to visiting York with A again. With the angst out of the way, the city's even more charming than it already seemed in the autumn, and I'm happy that I can now fully appreciate it.
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I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.