This week marks 2 years since we started this crazy adventure which is expat life in York, England. It is somewhat hard to believe and it has absolutely flown by. When we first landed in the UK we spent a couple of nights in London to catch up with friends and buy some winter woolies before making the 5 hour plus journey in our rental car to Scarborough, North Yorkshire. A quaint seaside town which was hugely popular in the 70s but is now filled with casinos, arcade games and rock lollies. A great place to visit on a sunny summer day for fish and chips and some ice-cream, but after about 3 days I had seen and done everything there was to do in Scarborough. We started researching online for places to live and we had been told good things about York. I found a couple of apartments which looked fabulous and booked viewings to check them out.
I was sold on the first apartment viewing. It was at the old Terry’s Chocolate Factory which has been converted into luxury apartments. They are sooooo divine and given we didn’t have dogs or children to contend with, this was a perfect option for us for a few months – almost like a mini babymoon to enjoy zero responsibilities. After the first viewing I drove into town and I will never forget the moment the York Minster came into view – it took my breathe away. It was like no place I had been before and I could see myself living here happily. I took another look at an apartment in town but decided it would be too busy and too noisy for us. So the decision was made – we were moving to York, and the adventure officially began.
With our 2 year anniversary of York living and love being in the air for Valentines Day this week, I thought it the perfect opportunity to explain just why I love living in York. Hopefully it will bring back happy memories of a previous visit or encourage you to add York to your travel list!
- The Walls – There are not many places in the world where the city center is still surrounded by walls constructed in the 13th and 14th century. You can access the wall via stairs at several locations and walk along taking in the view of the city. Some points are dauntingly high and have zero railing in place, but that all adds to the charm. One can only imagine the things that have happened at these walls and it still absolutely fascinates me to think of the tales these walls could tell.
- A Pub for Every Day of the Year – and then some! York is well known for its pub scene and there are over 365 pubs. We haven’t even made a dent on that number, but we love to try out new ones and chat with the publicans. Each one has its own little quirks and something different to offer its visitors. A few of our faves in town are Judges Lodging (for sitting outside on a summer day and watching the world go by), The Habit (for its marvelous and relatively unknown view of the Minster) and The Lamb and The Lion (for its beer garden alongside The Walls).
- York Minster – Every time I catch a glimpse of the Minster I am still totally in awe – you can probably tell by the number of photos I have included in this post. It is such a beautiful building and the architecture is a marvel for its time. Interestingly, York Minster is the second largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe (Wikipedia). I have only briefly popped inside to have a look but it is simply gorgeous.
- The Shambles – This ridiculously cute street is always lined with tourists and contains the most beautiful little shop fronts – everything from homemade fudge, coffee shops, handmade treasures and Harry Potter merchandise. It is rumored that The Shambles was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, hence the multiple shops which have recently sprung up. You must make it a priority to take a wander along this little street if you are in town. The Shambles Market and Food Court alongside are also an excellent option for some street food if you are looking for a bite to eat.
- 2 Hours from London – Just 2 short hours on the train and we can be in the center of London. This is still such a novelty for us as it would normally take us 24 hours on a plane (or 17 hours direct from Perth!). It is totally feasible for a day trip if needed and we can get our ‘big city’ fix whenever required.
- Unbelievably Picturesque – It really is one of the most beautiful cities with its cobblestone streets, wonky old buildings and roman ruins. There are photo opportunities around every corner and the drastic change in seasons in England make it beautiful all year round for different reasons. I love when everything is covered in snow, or as spring starts to come to life and the daffodils and green foliage emerge everywhere.
- The Home of Chocolate – York is well known for its chocolate history and has been the home to Terry’s, Rowntree’s and Nestle to name a few. How could you not love a town which is famous for chocolate? Make sure you add the Chocolate Tour to your itinerary.
- Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms – Okay so I was very late to the party with dining at Betty’s, but now that I have I am slightly hooked. I would have to say it is quite possibly one of the best afternoon teas I have ever had. I am yet to try the luxe version that they offer which would compare to some of the other high end afternoon teas I have tried around the world (Sky High | Afternoon Tea at Burj Al Arab), but the everyday one in their main dining room is fab. Those scones, well it is making my mouth water just thinking about them!
- People are friendly – This may be more of a Yorkshire thing than a York specific trait, but people here are just so friendly. I am always finding myself in conversations with random people at the coffee shops or in local shops … but perhaps that is because I am the crazy mum with nothing better to do? I remember one of my friends telling me that she had bought some suitcases and then had no way to get them home on the bus with a newborn so the shop attendant offered to drop them at her house after shift. I mean, where does that ever happen these days?
So there you have it, York in a nutshell. I would love to know what your favorite memory of York is or what you are looking forward to seeing when you visit. Leave a comment below or send us an email at email@example.com . See you on a cobblestone street somewhere soon! x
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