Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Grand Tour of Great Britain: York to Liverpool, Liverpool Cathedral, The Cavern

It's Saturday, October 14, 2017 and we're leaving York and heading to Liverpool. The map says it's about one and one half hours away.

On the coach Nick continues our history lessons with tales of Henry VI and his battle with Edward IV, brother to Richard III.

We pass through Leeds, the heart of England's industrial area. We pass through Manchester and watch the fog creep over the moors. Nick tells us of the Moors Murders.
Fog on the moors

The Moors murders were carried out by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley between July 1963 and October 1965, in and around Manchester, England. The victims were five children aged between 10 and 17—Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans—at least four of whom were sexually assaulted. Two of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor; a third grave was discovered there in 1987, more than twenty years after Brady and Hindley's trial. The body of a fourth victim, Keith Bennett, is also suspected to be buried there, but despite repeated searches remains undiscovered.

The police were initially aware of only three killings, those of Edward Evans, Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride. The investigation was reopened in 1985, after Brady was reported in the press as having confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett. Brady and Hindley were taken separately to Saddleworth Moor to assist the police in their search for the graves, both by then having confessed to the additional murders.

On that happy note, we arrive at Liverpool Cathedral. Iomgen takes us around the cathedral.


She explains that Liverpool Cathedral is the Church of England Cathedral of the Diocese of Liverpool. It was built on St James's Mount  and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. With pride she tells us that Liverpool Cathedral is the largest cathedral and religious building in Britain.

The cathedral is based on a design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and was constructed between 1904 and 1978. The total external length of the building, including the Lady Chapel (dedicated to the Blessed Virgin), is 207 yards (189 m) making it the longest cathedral in the world; its internal length is 160 yards (150 m).


We learn that In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world and contests with the incomplete Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City for the title of largest Anglican church building.

With a height of 331 feet (101 m) it is also one of the world's tallest non-spired church buildings and the third-tallest structure in the city of Liverpool. The cathedral is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.

The Anglican cathedral is one of two cathedrals in the city. The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Liverpool is situated approximately half a mile to the north. The cathedrals are linked by Hope Street, which takes its name from William Hope, a local merchant whose house stood on the site now occupied by the Philharmonic Hall, and was named long before either cathedral was built.

We grab a bite to eat at the Cathedral Cafe-The Welsford. We both have the Welsh rarebit (melted cheese on toast); it was HUGE and delicious.

While waiting for the rest of our group to finish lunch, Jay and I decide to walk off some of our lunch with a stroll around the cemetery. We discover the graves of many children who died at the local orphanages.


We visit the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Liverpool's International Slavery Museum. I meet Barbara Tasker, one of the women interviewed for the genealogy display, she's also a volunteer with the museum. She tells me (with great enthusiasm) all about her family history and then sends us on our way, telling us to research our families past. "Look to your roots! Do your research!"





We walk around the docks.







And finally check into our room at the Pullman, room 420!



Nick volunteers to take us for a drink at The Cavern before our "included dinner" at the hotel. The wait outside wasn't too long, maybe 15 minutes and after a quick beer, Jay and I head to TESCO for supplies and meet up with most of our crew at the dinner table.

We had a lovely dinner and topped it off with some yummy Crème Brûlée

So far, this is my favorite city and my favorite hotel. They have thought of everything to make your stay a fantastic experience.



Tomorrow we go on a Beatles Adventure for our last day in Liverpool.

Tons of photos of our journey from York to Liverpool: CLICK HERE



Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours

Monday, October 30, 2017

Grand Tour of Great Britain: York, York Minster, Jorvik Viking Centre


It's Friday the 13th and we're waking up in York, UK. We're staying at the Hotel 53 , room 303.  After a nice buffet breakfast, we meet Louise outside the hotel. Louise will be our guide around York this morning, getting us oriented to the town and taking us on a visit to York Minster.

We make our past the Guild Hall, we learn that York was founded on the wool trade. We stop in the parking lot across from Clifford's Tower. It was built by William the Conqueror. Roger de Clifford was executed for treason against Edward II and hanged in chains from the tower walls.


We travel to the Shambles, the ancient street of the butchers of York. Not many butchers remain but there are quite a few interesting shops. A lot of restoration was done during the 1920s.


Oh look, it's a Harry Potter shop...


And the mothership for this tea drinker.

These pies smelled so good, we almost lost our tour group and stayed at the pie shop but caught up to Louise and crew and continued on to York Minster.


York Minster
York Minster is the second largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe.

The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the mother church for the Diocese of York and the Province of York. It is run by a dean and chapter, under the Dean of York. The title "minster" is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title.

The minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic Quire and east end and Early English North and South transepts. The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 52 feet (16 m) high.The south transept contains a rose window, while the West Window contains a heart-shaped design colloquially known as 'The Heart of Yorkshire'.

I found the dragon!

The stained glass was amazing. The Minster has so many collections it would take days to look at everything.

 Louise said her good-byes and a few of us broke off from the group.

We had hoped to have lunch at Betty's Tea Room but both locations were packed. We found The Punchbowl and had a pint and sandwiches. It was not too crowded and the food and beer were great.



We hit the Jorvik Viking Centre after lunch; it was kind of Disney meets Vikings but the artifacts and the actual dig areas were fun to see. The Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum and visitor attraction created by the York Archaeological Trust in 1984. Its name is derived from the Old Norse name Jórvík for York. (The centre was badly damaged by flooding over Christmas 2015, but was repaired and reopened on 8 April 2017.)


York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. The original walls were built around 71 AD, when the Romans erected a fort occupying about 50 acres or 21.5 hectares near the banks of the River Ouse. The rectangle of walls was built as part of the fort's defenses. The foundations and the line of about half of these Roman walls form part of the existing walls, as follows: a section (the west corner, including the Multangular Tower) in the Museum Gardens, the north-west and north-east sections between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar, a further stretch between Monk Bar and the Merchant Taylors' Hall, at the end of which the lower courses of the east corner of the Roman wall can be seen on the city-centre side of the existing wall.

The line of the rest of the Roman wall went south-west from the east corner, crossing the via principalis of the fortress where King's Square is now located. The south corner was in what is now Feasegate, and from here the wall continued northwest to the west corner. The point where the wall crossed the via praetoria is marked by a plaque in St Helen's Square near the Mansion House.

Jay and I walked the WALL around York and encountered some pretty awesome backyards.



And a great view of York Minster.

We walked back to our hotel and freshened up a bit before heading out to find dinner. We walked around looking at window menus and ended up at Marzano on the River Foss for dinner; a quaint Italian restaurant. I had the dried tomato and goat cheese salad, followed by penne and chicken for my main. Jay had the Mediterranean Seafood. It was a little expensive but the food was really good and well prepared.

After a quick beer run to TESCO, we crashed in our room. We leave York on Saturday for Liverpool.

Lots more photos: York, UK

Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Grand Tour of Great Britain: Durham


We get a bit of a sleep-in on Thursday October, 12. Bags need to be in the Sandman Lobby for 8 a.m. and we need to be on the bus at 9 a.m.. We're moving on to York after we stop in Durham and South Kilvington.


We take one last look out of our hotel window, hit the breakfast buffet and hop on the coach.

Heading out of Newcastle we pass the prototype for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We travel into County Durham-George Washington's father was born here-did you know that?

We meet up with Kate, who will be our local guide around Durham, at the car park. We walk with her as she explains some of Durham's history. The city lies on the River Wear, to the west of Sunderland, south of Newcastle upon Tyne and to the north of Darlington. Founded over the final resting place of St Cuthbert, its Norman cathedral became a center of pilgrimage in medieval England. The cathedral and adjacent 11th-century castle were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832.

The statue of Charles William Vane watches over the square.

As we make our way up to the Durham Cathedral, we pass many funky shops.


The Durham Catherdal is also the shine to St. Cuthbert. The bell tower is under restoration.

The ancient cloisters doubled as a film location for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone back in 2001. Against a snowy backdrop, the cloisters became the snow-covered quadrangle where Harry magically releases Hedwig the owl from his hands.

 After a yummy lunch of cheese and pickle sandwich and a pot of earl grey tea at the Cafe on The Green, we take a walk along the River Wear, killing some time until our Durham Castle Tour at 1:15 p.m.


Durham Castle is home to Durham University. We're on the 1:15 tour. The buildings are home to the students of Durham University so no photography is allowed inside.
I cannot even imagine going to school and being able to live is a place like this. How cool would that be? As we leave our castle tour, we walk back to the car park with Nick, our Go Ahead Tour Guide and talk music.

Moving on, we stop for afternoon tea-read beers! in South Kilvington.

We walk around a bit looking for a good pub, and finally end up at The Three Tuns.


And we're in luck, it's Real-Ale Festival 2017 so there are a huge variety of beers to sample. We test the Oatmeal Porter-delicious. We're back to the car park with time to spare so we stroll along the canal to visit with the ducks.


On the coach, we pull into York around 5 p.m.

We check into the Hotel 53 room 303, dump our luggage and head off to Brew York to sample their brews. The Viking DNA was superb!


I do believe I've found some farkeling sticks (I've have to confirm this with our Tour Guide Nick)


Brew York only has bar snacks so we hunt for some food and end up at The Red Lion on Merchant Gate. We both had the bacon and brie sandwich. I had a MacCallan and Jay had a Guinness. It was really good pub fare and not that expensive.


Back to the hotel and we run into a professor that Jay applied to do research with back in the late 80s-small world!

Not sure what's in store for us on Friday the 13th...but

Lots more photos: Durham

Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours