Rail Europe: Riding the Rails in France and the U.K.

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Then it is time for still another 1.5-hour train trip from Manchester to York, for a very quick tour of this absolutely charming city. It’s one of the few cities in Europe with its original walls mostly still intact, allowing visitors to walk the walls around the original city center. The place has a fascinating history going back 2,000 years when it was called Eboracum, a major Roman headquarter and town. Next, came the Saxons who called it Eoforwick and following them, the invading Vikings who liked it well enough to stay and settle, calling the town Jorvik.

Today, its most famous landmark that absolutely dominates the town because of its size is York Minster, an enormous church that was built back in the early part of the 13th century and was under construction for over 250 years. It’s famous for its medieval glass, the most important of which is its great east window created between 1405 and 1408 and the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in the world.

The city center itself is mostly a pedestrian area now, with twisting and narrow cobblestoned medieval streets, lined by a variety of shops, restaurants and supposedly, more than its fair share of haunted pubs. Just before leaving, we stop in at a local restaurant called Betty’s that, we are told, is constantly packed and particularly popular with locals and visitors alike for its afternoon tea, complete with sandwiches and a variety of confections.

After a brief visit, it’s time to board the train once again and head back to Manchester for the trip back to the States the next morning. It’s amazing how much unstressed travel can be packed into a short vacation span when you utilize Rail Europe. It’s truly the only way to go for people who enjoy independent travel and who want to experience the culture of a European destination by traveling amongst the people themselves.