D&J Scotland Whisky Tour 2009 travel blog

The Mount Royale Hotel, York

Our Room Overlooking the Garden at The Mount Royale Hotel, York

View of Our Room From the Garden of the Mount Royale Hotel,...

One Of the "Bars" (Gates) On the Walls of York

We got up this morning and packed our stuff. Most of the group had a flight close to 2:00 pm that afternoon, but we had a train to catch shortly before 10:00 am. We went down to the dining room to have breakfast, and there were at least two other tour groups eating at the same time. I heard the table behind Doug speaking Spanish, and the table behind me speaking German! Must be a popular hotel for organized tours.

It was just a 20 minute walk to the train station, Glasgow Central, but it was over some pretty bumpy sidewalks and cobbled streets, and my luggage has a very high centre of gravity when I roll it, so it was tipping over quite a bit. Oh well. We got to the train station a half hour before our train left, so I had a cappuccino and watched the people and the pigeons (one poor pigeon had almost no toes, but thankfully he could fly). We boarded our train and departed at 9:50 am.

We had reserved seats in the quiet coach, which was nice. No cell phones are permitted, and you must whisper when you talk. I was on the laptop most of our almost four hour journey, but occasionally glanced out the window at the passing scenery. My favorite part of the journey was going by the Northumberland Coast, and seeing the ruins, like that of Bamburg Castle, on the spits of land jutting out into the North Sea. Also, passing through what I think was Berwick and over the aqueduct that curves over the gorge was very picturesque.

We pulled into York not long before 2:00 pm, and walked over a bridge and again over uneven sidewalks and streets about 15 minutes and found our hotel for the next two nights, The Mount Royale Hotel, which came highly recommended on a website where I did a lot of my research. It was apparent right from the start why. It is a large stone building set back a little from the road with a little paved car park in the front. There are two entrances, one for the hotel and one for the restaurant inside the hotel. The front of the building was mostly covered in vines, and looked very Victorian.

We were greeted at the reception desk by a very friendly girl who upgraded us to a garden suite. To get to our room, we walked down a hall to the breakfast room, through the room and down a small staircase, to a short hallway that has all glass on one wall that overlooks a patio area, then turn the corner and go down another wing, with rooms on one side, skylights all along, and a bordered garden along the opposite wall, like a conservatory. It was very unique, but very pretty.

The prettiest part of this very pretty hotel, though, was our lovely room. It was big, with a walk-in closet, a large bathroom with a tub, and a combination bedroom/sitting room area, and one wall was entirely floor-to-ceiling windows with a glass patio door that opened onto our little private terrace, covered by a vine-covered arbor, and having a small table and chairs. We are right beside the large walled garden in the back, and it is beautifully landscaped, with winding gravel paths, flower beds, shrubs, and many small seating areas. It also has a small pool at the very back of the property with a hot tub, and in the centre of the garden is a covered outdoor seating area that adjoins the restaurant and lounge area in the main building. It is so pretty, and I could easily just spend our entire time here in York enjoying this wonderful hotel, but the sights and sounds of York await.

We just relaxed that afternoon and spent time in our room and enjoyed the beautiful views out our windows to the gardens. I took a turn in the garden later on, and made some mental notes for my own yard and garden. This is exactly what I would love to have in my back yard!

We had dinner in the restaurant about 6:00 pm, and we were the only ones in there. I had the chicken liver pate with oatcakes and fruit preserves for my starter, a duck’s egg omelet with asparagus for my main course, and a treacle sponge pudding with custard for dessert. The food was very good, and the omelet delicious and rich.

After supper, we decided to take a ghost tour. We did some research online (the hotel offers free wireless internet), and while some of the ghost tours relied on actors and gimmicks, we decided to take one that was more just about the storytelling, simply called “The Haunted Walk of York”.

We walked through York to reach the meeting place, crossing through the stone tower of Michelsgate and over the bridge, where geese were swimming and feeding in the river. We met our tour guide in front of the art gallery, and there were about six other people on the tour, all from England. I don’t remember our guide’s name, but he said that he had been doing these walks for a long time, and that he had previously been a bartender, so right away he’s probably heard every ghost story about York that ever was!

The walk was very good, and some of the stories were of people he had known, which lent an air of credibility. True to form, he was a good storyteller, and whether you believe the ghost stories or not, it was interesting just to hear him tell them. He had some particularly creepy stories about a little orphan girl from a workhouse, and another one about a ghost hunter who died under mysterious circumstances while doing an all-night vigil in a church reputedly haunted by Vikings!

It was also just nice to hear a bit of the history of York and go walking through the fascinating cobbled streets and see the interesting architecture.

My feet and shins were pretty sore from all the walking we did today, so I hobbled back to the hotel with Doug. Along the way, we could see club-goers out and about, even though it was a Thursday night.

I was glad to get back to the hotel and off my feet, and we read until we turned out the light around 11:00 pm.

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