First, I want to thank all the UK experts for their help and suggestion. We had a lovely, trouble-free trip and many of your suggestions saved us time and money. So, thank you!
As we were in the UK for 20 days the trip report will be long and I'll be breaking it into parts. I'm not an entertaining writer (I blame to many years in corporate America), but I hope it will be useful.
Day 1, June 9th - We left Seattle (United Airlines) at 11:30am and landed in Chicago around 4:00pm, two hour layover and then an 8 hour flight to London. There are direct flights to London from Seattle, but we like a break in our 12-hour confinement in steerage.
Day 2, June 10th - We landed in London at the new Terminal 2 about 30 minutes late at 9:00am. For folks landing at Terminal 2 the signage is great, but the walk (even with moving sidewalks) is about 20-30 minutes to passport control. Time through passport control was about 30 minutes. The immigration officers are very efficient.
We followed the signs to the Underground and bought one way tickets into London (£11.90 for two adults). The London transportation website indicates 55 minutes into London, but our trip to King’s Cross was 40 minutes. The renovations to King’s Cross station are amazing! It was hard to believe it was the same station we were in during our 2006 visit. At King’s Cross we bought single tickets to York. Yikes (!), talk about expensive $325.00 for two one-way tickets. I know we could have saved money by booking ahead of time, but we had no idea how long it would take to get through Heathrow and into London. Our train to York was scheduled to take 2 hours, but it took nearly 4 hours due to problems with the trains.
On arrival in York we took a taxi from the train station to our B&B on Grosvenor Terrace (£6). The taxi ride was about 10-15 minutes. Our B&B, Bowman’s Guest House, was an easy 10 minute walk into York (see review here: www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g186346-d777599-r213819841-Bowman_s-York_North_Yorkshire_England.html) as long as you turned in the right direction. We didn’t the first time and found ourselves climbing up to an overpass over the rail tracks and then trying to find our way back to central York. Fortunately, it was a pretty straightforward and easy walk and within a few minutes we were back on track. As we were getting pretty hungry we stopped at the Ambience Café for a late lunch.
After lunch we walked over to the Minster to see the outside and check out the location, walked around a bit more and then headed back to our B&B. We stopped at a Sainsbury Local to pick up a few snacks, berries, wine and chocolate digestives (cookies), then back to our B&B. We managed to stay up until 9:00pm local time.
Day 3, June 11th – After delicious “full English” at our B&B we headed into York. Our first stop was York Minster. I don’t know how to describe the Minster….huge, beautiful, amazing, seem like little words compared to the magnificence of the Minster. The detailed carvings in the Quire are like wood lace. While the Great East Window is being restored there is a replica (looks like a detailed photograph) on some kind of plastic (tarp?) covering the window. In addition, there is a set of excellent interactive touch screens which allow you to access all the history of the window, the meaning of the window sections and the restoration process. All in all we probably spent at least 2 hours in the Minster.
After leaving the Minster we walked through The Shambles, a narrow street which used to be lined with butcher shops, and while somewhat interesting from a historic standpoint is just full of tourist shops now. We lunched (had afternoon tea) at Betty’s. There was a queue, but it move quickly and we were seated (upstairs) in 15-20 minutes. Our afternoon tea was lovely! Sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and butter and lovely small desserts….YUM!
Our next stop was the river cruise by Lendal Bridge. It wasn’t a particularly outstanding cruise, but it was fun (we were sitting down) and the narration was entertaining. After the river cruise, we stopped at the Sainbury’s Local again for a few late snacks and then headed back to our B&B. We both slept very well!