Friday, January 20, 2012

York, Dec 2011 - Part 2

We started out the next morning with a tour inside the York Minster.  It is a beautiful cathedral and was decorated for Christmas, which made it even more special.  I thought it apropos that one of the chapels inside the minster is dedicated to St. Nicholas.

The current cathedral was consecrated way back in 1472.  I stood in awe of all the stained glass - the largest expanse of medieval stained glass still intact today.  To save it from the German bombs during World War II, panes were removed and hidden away in the homes of local citizens.  Below is a pic of the oldest daughter inside the attached octagonal chapter house.

I just love the picture above, looking from the west end down to the east end where the altar is located.  Brides had better wear some really practical shoes when they take a walk down this aisle because it seems to stretch into eternity.

The exterior of the minster was equally beautiful.  Below I've included a rather boring shot of the west end door while beneath that is a more interesting picture.  We were strolling to the museums our first day through the cute little old town streets to grab something warm to drink at Starbucks (yes, they are indeed everywhere) when I looked to my left and saw this.  The sun was just starting its climb into the sky and this is the only bit of the exterior I could see in-between the buildings lining the street.  I imagine the stained glass window, appropriately called the Rose window, as seen from within the cathedral was just breathtaking with the sun streaming through it.

In the afternoon, we hiked over to the National Railway Museum... in the rain because I guess Mother Nature figured we weren't miserable enough in just the cold, windy weather.  It houses over 100 locomotives.  The engines in the roundhouse were cool, but I was really fascinated by the royal train cars on display.  I felt a bit like a peeping tom, peering in all of the cars they had for us to view.  

The girls were excited about seeing Hogwarts Express, the train they used in the Harry Potter movie franchise.  We searched high and low to no avail, so I finally asked a white haired museum volunteer where we could find it.  We were indeed sad to learn that it is only there on a rotating basis and would not be returning until February.  The girls were ever so glad we made them tromp through the bitterly cold rain with the lure of the Hogwarts train and some really cool pics held out like a carrot in front of their little donkey noses just to find out there would be no magical memories made that afternoon.

By the time we got back to the old city centre, we were feeling a bit peckish and made our way to Betty's Tea Room.  Betty is one famous gal if the line out the doors of both her primary and secondary establishments were to be believed.  After standing around waiting for about 20-25 minutes, we were seated in front of a fire.  Heaven!  Believe me, it was well worth the wait.  I had been holding out all day for some of Betty's fine fare while the three hogs rest of the family had already eaten lunch.  

I had a glorious Caesar salad.  I know, you're thinking to yourself salad, what's the big deal.  It truly was.  They had cunningly wrapped the slivers of succulent chicken breast in bacon and grilled it - delicious.  It was tossed in a homemade dressing with these croutons that had just the right bite of garlicky butter and were light as air, not the rocks they sometimes toss on your greens as an afterthought.  The husband had cream tea and all but licked the bowls of clotted cream and strawberry marmalade that wouldn't fit on his fresh-from-the-oven scone.  The youngest daughter had hot chocolate and a slice of chocolate torte - just can't get enough of the chocolate food group in her diet on a daily basis - while the older daughter had a cappuccino and fairy cake, which is just English speak for white cake with sugar icing that looked like a large petit four.  And the Christmas tea - I drank every drop of it.  This trip was a lovely way for our family to kick off the holiday season.

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