Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catching Up / Yorkshire / July 1 - 4 / Sun and Rain

Our trip to York on Sunday, although extremely expensive, was uneventful, despite warnings of interrupted train service due to flooding and attacks. It was confusing finding our B&B ("Number 34") while lugging our suitcases, but eventually we found it, and it turned out to be a lovely place.

We discovered that Yorkshire is exactly halfway between London and Scotland in more than one sense:
  • Physically
  • Accentwise
  • Prettiness
  • Weatherwise
  • Politeness of the people
  • Pub culture
  • Architecture
  • Niceness of the B&B
  • etc.
The next time I visit the UK, I'm going straight to Scotland and skipping England altogether.

It really depends on why you're traveling to begin with. I will approach that question in another post.


The weather in York on our first day was bizarre. It started out sunny. When we stepped into a supermarket, it began to pour like crazy, faster than the streets could drain. We waited twenty minutes, and then it was sunny again. After a half an hour, it began to rain while it was still sunny. And so on throughout the rest of the day.

We managed to pick the only days in York when nothing was happening. A number of plays and festivals all ended on June 30, and more were due to begin on July 4. We were there July 1 to 3. Sigh.

Aside from the train station and its railway museum, there is nothing to see in York other than the old city. Everything outside the old city is either a residential house, a store, or a pub.

Tal and I saw the city's art museum, which was a small affair with some ok paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The old city of York and the shops and pubs therein are very nice. Some nights they have live music, and a lot of the stores feature local artists attractively priced. Tal and I bought a few things and took some pictures.

I found the hobby gaming store, which was the highest price store I've ever been in as far as Eurogames go. The owner of the store doesn't play games himself. I'm not sure why, but this appears to be a pattern with game store owners.

All the tourist locations in York are terribly commercialized. There is a limit to how many times I'm willing to hand over 10 Pounds to see another old building, and that limit was no times at all.

I tried the most recommended site, "Jorvik", a museum about Vikings. It was done with incredible expense and about as uninterestingly as could be imagined. You sit in a large ski-lift which moves about 1 mile an hour showing you hokey things you would be far better off simply walking through.

In the end there are one or two live actors pretending to be Vikings, and a display of the month. This month's display was "Do you have Viking ancestry?" Two rooms, some patronizing multimedia displays, and you're done. All for around 15 Pounds for both of us.

We wanted to take a "floodlight" evening boat ride, but it was canceled owing to the flooding.

In the evening I heard about Rachel's car and airline woes that I described earlier. Tal and I watched some of the Diana tribute concert in the evening on television.


Tal and I decided to go to the coast. We were advised to try Whitby instead of Scarborough, owing to Scarborough's over-commercialization. But that's what Tal really wanted, and there is train service to Scarborough but not to Whitby. Actually, there is train service to Whitby, just not from York. Which makes no sense.

At the train station, we ran into another one of those people who came right up to my face, pointed at my kippah, and asked "Ahre yoo a Joo? No ahffense, ah was jess wahndering?"

As soon as we got off the train in Scarborough it began to rain. We walked down streets that looked an awful lot like Ben-Yehuda Street until we got to the shore, a beautiful expanse of beach. It was almost entirely empty, too, which is not surprising since it was freezing and raining. We hiked back up stopping in many of the stores.

When we got back on the train to return to York, it stopped raining and the sun came out. We then took a quick look at the National Railway Museum, which was free.

In the evening, Jackson Pope of Reiver Games, my publisher, picked us up and we went to his house to visit. It was great to finally meet him, as well as his wife.

I got to see copies of It's Alive as they were being assembled, and I picked up my two free copies and two additional copies ordered by Israelis.

Then, even though my hosts must have played the game several hundred times over the last few months, we played two games. Tal had been dreading the new artwork of the game, but she eventually got over it.

We then played two games of Pitchcar, my first plays. It's essentially a racetrack where you flick your wooden disks around three times, trying not to knock them over the rails or flip upside down. It's fun, but not as much fun as Crokinole. I won the first game, and Jack won the second. Tal was just happy to beat me in the second game.

Rachel finally messaged that she arrived back in Israel in the evening.


Sunny again in the morning. We decided to take the bus out to Whitby after all, with tickets that allowed us to hop on and off along the way. That would make it a full day of exploring.

Unfortunately, there was no child price tickets for the bus service, so each of us had to pay 11 Pounds, in cash. Since, between the two of us, we had a total of 30 Pounds in cash, and we needed some emergency cash in reserve, that was the last of our cash expenditures. We used 5 Pounds for the taxi ride to the train on Wed morning, and the last 3 Pounds we brought back in coins.

As soon as we got on the bus, it began raining. Is this sounding familiar, yet?

We got off and on in Pickering, Thornton, Goathland, and Whitby.

In Pickering, we walked up and down one of the streets, saw a nice pond, didn't pay 8 Pounds each for the privilege of fishing in the pond, saw the castle ruins, didn't pay 3 Pounds each for the privilege of walking among the ruins, and returned to the bus.

In Thornton, we saw some awesome used book stores, didn't drink tea because the tea room didn't take credit cards, and returned to the bus.

On the way to Goathland, we saw the beautiful moors of Yorkshire. In Goathland, the town appeared to have around 100 residents, and there were around 500 tourists from buses walking into and out of the four or five tourist shops. Needless to say, it was pretty ridiculous, and we returned to the bus after looking in one store. There were actually some inexpensive locally produce food items that looked worth buying if I didn't keep kosher.

We arrived in Whitby, and I understood the comments about the over-commercialized Scarborough vs the harbor town of Whitby. There's little beach to speak of, but many ships and rocky areas. Smaller streets and less brand name stores. But mostly, a long docks out to the harbor. Very pretty. Apparently, there is some history here about Captain Cook, which we missed.

After walking around in the rain, we returned to the bus station. As we had some time to kill, I stopped into the nearby Whitby Coliseum.

The Whitby Coliseum is one of those "everything" places: Internet cafe, theater, meeting hall, artist gallery, tourist info, charity works. I was given a short guide by the champion of the place, a young woman whose name I forgot. She showed me how the place used to be a movie theater, and aspires to be again. On the top floors live various special needs people who have no other current accommodations and are working toward integrating back into regular society.

She was devoting a lot of her time into the place, and her dreams were as large as her heart. It was a fascinating and touching hour of information. I asked her to send me a writeup. If she ever does, I'll post it.

The bus came to take us back to York, and as soon as we got on the bus, it stopped raining and the sun came out.

Tuesday was also a minor fast day, but, with the fast ending at some 10:15 pm, and both of us not being perfectly well, there was no way we were going to make it, and we didn't.


We had to up and leave by 8:15 am to get the taxi to London, train to Heathrow, walkways to the gate, and the plane to Israel. Without having to hurry, but with no real time for breaks, this took the entire day and we arrived back in Israel by 11:00 pm. For the first time in my life, the luggage was waiting for me when I got to the conveyor. Of course, it took 45 minutes to get to the conveyor.

Rachel was taking Eitan to the airport at 2:00 am, and Tal didn't want the trip to be over yet, so we played some games of It's Alive and Oh Hell at the airport for two hours, and finally left the airport at 2:45 am, getting to bed at 4:00 am.


Pictures to follow.


1 comment:

Dave The Game said...

I agree, I hate England but love Scotland. You've taken some great pictures though!