York, England

You cannot leave the UK without visiting the historical city of York. The city is only The Shambles, York2 hours by train from London and is largely traffic free so if you are driving be sure to use a park and ride. You can walk around the medieval walls of the city and through its beautifully preserved cobbled stone streets, while peeking in through old shop windows. We enjoyed walking through ‘The Shambles‘, an ancient butchers’ street mentioned in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror in 1086. This is the oldest shopping street in Europe and leads right to York Minster.

York Minster is an outstanding preserved building with the largest and most diverse collection ofYork Minster medieval stained glass in Britain. The great east window took three years to complete starting in 1405 and depicts the beginning and the end, from Genesis to Revelation. We had great weather when we visited and could climb up the winding staircase of the central tower. We got up close and personal with the gargoyles and overlooked the city from the top before heading over to the National Railway Museum, the largest railway museum in the world.

We could have easily spent the day at the National Railway Museum. Trains are just one of those York National Railway Museumthings that are always going to be fun to go see. The museum features some of the Royal carriages including one that was used by Queen Victoria in 1869. Queen Adelaide’s saloon is the world’s oldest surviving railway carriage and is in the station hall. Station hall was built in the 1870s and today is used to provide visitors with an experience of being in a station from the past. You can even climb into one of the carriages. The museum is also the home to the famous locomotive, the Flying Scotsman.

We definitely could have used more time in York, however we only had the afternoon to explore. Some other highlights worth checking out in the city are JORVIK viking center and Clifford’s Tower.

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Lovrijenac Fortress

Dubrovnik, Croatia

We now understand why Dubrovnik has been described as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’! Dubrovnik_cliff_barWith marbled streets, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style churches as well as fountains and the surrounding city walls, everywhere you look is something that will capture your attention. The shopping is also great in Dubrovnik with many jewelers demonstrating how to create coral beads. I picked up a hat unlike any design I’ve seen in a little independent shop down one of the side streets. For drinks you can head to a cliff bar, they can be seen from along the city walls.

Old Town from City WallsWe spent most of our day walking through the old town and around the 1,940 meter long medieval city walls that surrounded the city. The walls were constructed in the 10th century and fortified¬†considerably in 1453. There are four fortresses around the Old Town; Miceta Tower, Revelin Fortress, St. John’s Fortress, and Bokar Bastion. From the walls you can oversee the entire Old Town and all the buildings within it. Also from the walls, you get an amazing view of the Lovrijenac Fortress. The fortress was built on a 37 meter high rock overlooking the sea and according to some chronologists, is dated back to 1018 or 1038. Above the entrance it reads ‘NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO’, a saying from an¬†Aesop fable meaning ‘freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world.’ Dubrovnik loves liberty and would use this phrase as a reminder to those on guard of why they were there.