My endeavours continue as I travel through Brussels and into Manchester. Once I made it into Manchester, I took a very very long train ride to York, where my brother was staying. When I arrived, he took me into the beautiful historic town.
There is a history to York. Not a history that I know very well, but there is a history. York used to be home to the Vikings many years ago. However old, the Viking history still has a very strong presence in the city. Fortunately enough, the day I arrived was the last day of a Viking festival. My brother and I bought tickets and went in to see what was in store for new Viking initiates.
It turns out it was just a giant kiosk-tent selling all the things a Viking would need to succeed in battle. There were swords, some sharp enough to cut a person open as if they were not there, and some dull enough to just do damage by blunt force trauma. There were Viking shoes and armour for sale. It was quite interesting really. I mean, these are the real deal. Even though it looks straight out of the show Vikings, this was (allegedly) real armour that the Vikings took into battle so many years ago. One piece, that was a long panel of metal chains used as protection from swords and knives, was said to have been stained red from blood. There was also a wide variety of of drinking cups made out of the horns of cattle. They even had the sizing labelled. Some horns were large enough to fit 2 liters of mead (mead being the drink of choice from that time period – it’s a kind of alcohol). Some horns, deemed to large to become drinking cups, were actually transformed into the famous blow horns that people have come to know. They even allowed people to blow on the horns. I gave it a go and was miserably unsuccessful. Towards the end of the endless amounts of kiosks, were the bows. Long bows. Short bows. No crossbows. Each made of a particular kind of wood, crafted to be efficient and accurate. We almost bought one but then determined we didn’t actually have a use for it.
After the Viking festival, my brother showed me what every person dreams of seeing. Diagonally. Sorry, I meant Diagon Alley. Well, here in York it is referred to as The Shambles. The very streets that inspired the one and only J.K Rowling to create a spot for young wizards to buy all of their wizardry needs. A small little alley that consists of ancient buildings that are stacked atop one another. They also happen to be poorly stacked which means some buildings protrude outward onto the street, hence why J.K referred to it as Diagon Alley. Get it? The buildings are placed almost diagonally on top of each other.
After stepping through the magical Shambles, we made our way to my brothers house where I met his house mates. Aside from eating a well-deserved steak, since anyone who has traveled knows how awful plane food is (I had the vegetarian lasagna – never making that mistake again), we played a game of Catan to kill time before we made our way out for a friends birthday.
It was going well.
Key word. Was.
We got to the first bar called The Black Swan where my brother, his English friend Jamie, and I enjoyed a nice beer. It was a nice place. Very historic looking. We finished our pints and made our way to another bar called Lowther. It has two floors, the upper floor which can be reserved for events, and the main floor is just a typical bar. This bar was where I came to the conclusion that all English people are alcoholics. First of all, unheard of in Canada, the drinks are triples. By triples I mean they contain triple the shots that would regularly compose a drink. Secondly, when a bottle then gets emptied from all of the drinks the bartenders make, they literally just throw it in the garbage. I asked my brothers mate why and he said you fit more bottles in the trash if they’re broken into pieces. Again, in Canada we can return empty bottles for some extra pocket cash.
I met all of my brothers friends and their girlfriends. The girlfriends were very inviting, which is great considering I’m introverted as hell and super socially awkward. I got along with the girlfriends well and according to my brother, they all enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs. In all honesty, I was absolutely over the moon that I seemed to be doing well socially (this is a huge thing for me, let me have it).
Anyway, it went south as quickly as it went north.
This time, we made our way to a night club called Revolution, or Rev’s for short. It was packed. Not only that, but within literally 10 minutes of entering the club, I lost my brother and his friends. Leaving me, the epitome of introvertism, by myself in a crowd of people that seem to be speaking another language (the slang here is incredible). It did not blow over well.
Cue the full blown panic attack.
I eventually found my brother, or rather he found me and I think it goes without saying that we went home after that.
All things considered, including my 2 nail casualty, it was a terrific first day in York.