A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

Category Archives: United Kingdom

In the city of York

When in York, ghosts and shadows surround you. The history of this majestic city, much of it tragic, lives in the walls of the old city. By following the trail of ghosts from the past, we got to learn about the city’s history. The guided terror trail we chose to follow led us through some old medieval streets from the Shambles to Swine Lane bypassing Gr_pe Lane (you may substitute for an ‘a’ or an ‘o’ whichever you like and whichever reference you may want to give it), going around York Minster and Constantine’s statue all the while skipping through each intersection. Yes, you read correctly, this guided walk was… let’s just say unusual (ou spécial pour les bons Canadiens français 🙂 ).

So this young actor-guide actually made us hold hands in a single file and then skip while crossing the street. I may be a French-Canadian of Irish descent, but I am more English than none when it comes to holding a stranger’s hand so let’s just say the walk did not exactly start on the right (skipping) foot. The oral history shared, however, was interesting if not downright scary. I could probably go on for an hour and a half, as long as the walk itself, to explain all its intricacies, but to keep you from closing your browser, I will stick to two references. The first being that, as we passed through the Jewish quarter, we were told of Richard the Lionheart’s search of war money and the following rumors against the Jewish community members (regarding them coveting money). Fearing for their lives, the Jews, upon hearing this rumor, sought refuge in Clifford’s Tower. Knowing that they would either be murdered or forcibly baptized by their attacker should they choose to evade the tower, 150 Jews chose to meet death at their own hands – the father killing his children and wife before turning the sword on himself. This senseless massacre took place on March 16, 1190. This date does live in infamy and is remembered each year. Every society has played its role in trying to be victors and erasing another’s beliefs and customs, but after following the trail of the Jacobites and my own heritage, this walk left me somewhat drained.

Now let’s lighten up this dialogue and highlight the good, the bad & the ugly of this marvelous trip.

Trafalgar Studios

The Good can be many things, but I’ve chosen Orlando Bloom’s play, Killer Joe, which we saw yesterday afternoon. We were sitting in row A, seats 8 & 9 which were right on the floor (the ACTUAL STAGE FLOOR), as in we were like three feet from the actors, as in I was three feet from… Orlando Bloom (ORLANDO BLOOM!!!). Ok, the play is dark and disturbing and I’m sure many North Americans, in most scenes, think of crazy (good!) Matthew McConaughey but dear Spaghetti Monster, we were in spitting distance of the actors!

On to the Bad and to the second reference to the Terror Trail guided walk. As we were walking around York Minster, the guide told us another story about a little house kitty-corner to the Minster. It was a house in which 24 members had died of the plague. The only people remaining were a family of three – the mom, dad, and 7-year-old daughter. Then one night, the mother saw red marks on the little girl’s throat. Thinking it was the first sign of the plague, she put the girl to bed, painted a big red X on the front door, locked it and left with her husband. The following morning, the little girl found herself alone in the house and hungry. It is told that for three weeks, she cried from her bedroom window asking for food. Not one soul stopped to help her; all presuming she had the plague. The house was right in front of a market and just behind a huge church and all that has been recorded is the bishop’s diary of the time which says that when passing that corner to the church, he had to raise his voice to be heard over the cries of a child. After it was clear that the little girl was no longer alive, they went to get her and realized she never had the plague but a simple case of child-onset measles. This poor little girl died of starvation. The bad is that I believe the same would occur today as much as I want to believe in the goodness of humanity.

Our Fancy Vauxhall

And now on to the Ugly. The ugly in this case is spelled Enterprise Rent-A-Car. This cute little company just started using iPads to conduct its business but, as with new technology, agents sometimes make mistakes, and our specific agent upon renting the car lost all our information after we had swiped our credit card. When Justin went into the office to re-enter his information, the agent told him the payment had not gone through and to swipe once more. Well… two separate charges are clearly shown on our credit card! (surprise, surprise) We have now been sending emails and calling for 11 days to no avail. The couple of agents we did speak with assured us this would be taken care of, but the charge is still there and we will probably have to contest it with our credit card company once we are back home. The time will come when Enterprise will have to contend with the wrath of Anne!

So this is it, I bid you farewell United Kingdom! Until we meet again… love, Anne

Enjoying the city!

 

PS Here is my list of books read during this trip:

  1. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah;
  2. 1984 by George Orwell;
  3. The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnston;
  4. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (still in progress)

All excellent books!!!

IMG_0280It is when you don’t have any specific itinerary or destination that you find beautiful corners of the city that often go overlooked by tourists, especially those who run from one big attraction to another. This is part of the reason why Justin and I always allow a few extra days when (re)visiting a foreign city.

This weekend, we made our way to Hyde Park, the ‘Central Park’ of London, to stroll through the many paths simply observing people, stopping to read on park benches, observing the sun pass through the mature trees, and enjoying the warm weather.

IMG_0284

 

While we were walking, others were running a 10k, or cycling around on rentals (Santander bikes are everywhere and seem to be used by many Londonians), or even leisurely rowing and peddling on the Serpentine.

Coming out of Hyde Park, we got a little lost – for those who know us, this is no surprise; funny how we have traveled throughout the world, but still have a very bad sense of direction. As a side note, we found a ‘shortcut’ from our lodgings to our tube stop 7 days after arriving in London even if we walked that route twice a day, everyday! Oh well…

 

We finally made it to Tower Bridge so we could cross it by foot; something we had never done, and which was thrilling. It may not be the London Bridge, but it certainly is one of the most recognized landmark of the city.

And finally today, our last day in beautiful London, we chose to go back to Regent Street to participate in the Summer Street Event where the road is closed to motorized vehicles and live music pops up every corner of so. Today, Magnum bars were being distributed to each and all. We got one at the booth offering double chocolate, caramel or peanut butter, but there were also bigger booths where the ice cream bars were being dipped individually according to personal taste.

We walked, we ate, we shopped, we read, we took in the city one last time while imagining what it would be to live as a Londonian…. Maybe one day. Then again, we say this of every city we visit… or almost!