York, England

January 4-7, 2001

Iím walking along around the city on top of the old city walls and what never ceases to bring excitement to my eye is imagining the period when this was created. These walls werenít created for a castle theme park, but for the cities survival. Remember when they talked of William Wallace sacking York in Braveheart? These were the walls his clan managed through. And before that, this was viking country and before that, well, as usual, just about everything in England was a Roman settlement 2000 years ago.

I'm not at all a history buff. In fact, I'm quite ignorant of it all, but having the imagery to dream of it gets my curriousity up to learn a bit more. The elements of fairy tales: castles, barbarians, prince & princes... do the Europeans take this for granted that they are living on top of all of this?

What else is there in York? Of course thereís the not to be missed Yorkminster (and you really canít miss it if you wander around town) that still shows perhaps the best-preserved medieval stained glass in the world. This isnít by chance though. During World War II, each piece was removed and put into storage and reassembled when things came back to normal as bomb blasts in most other cities sent the lead framed glass splintering into bits.

Another one of the features are the Shambles. You know those rickety top-heavy old buildings that bend and look as if they are about to topple into the street? These are they, but itís a disappointingly small area of this. Just one year ago, I thought that most old English cities were full of areas like this. Not true. I suppose they really do fall over into the streets eventually.

There's a few other sites that we pass by; however, the famous viking center is closed for renovations for the summer season. My brother is here with me and weíre staying at a large and clean hostel. Since it's not the travelling season it's a bit quiet, but it gives him an idea of what urban backpacking is like meeting other friendly travelers staying there looking to explore the town together.

countries list