Volume II – No. 3 – February 2006In our latest piece by T2M members, Heike Wolter plays the tourist in York …
York is relatively unknown to Germans. When I told people that I was going to York, nearly everyone wished me a pleasant stay (coupled with an envious glance) in New York. On correcting them, most of my friends then seemed rather doubtful. But they were wrong, as York turned out to be a wonderful little town in Northern England.
But first you had to get there, not a problem for someone like myself heading for a conference on mobility. That said, I meandered to my destination: going by private car in early morning, travelling on an urban train to Munich airport, flying to London Heathrow, choosing the London tube for my way to King’s Cross and taking the express train to York. I finally reached York’s Central Station punctually at 1.30 pm local time.
On getting off the train, along with numerous locals and a handful of tourists, I found myself staring at the city’s wall. Like a castle, York refused to let me in. But after finding the entrance, I marveled at its picturesque inner life and I explored its ways, places and premises.
Arriving at the hotel I had barely enough time to think about the new discoveries. My first appointment was pushing. I just wasn’t a tourist, but somebody on an official journey. Our meeting place was a peculiar composition of reading rooms – looking alike all over the world – and a place full of unique exhibits suiting conference’s theme. The collection included a huge amount of rolling stock and I caught a glimpse of the legendary Flying Scotsman locomotive.
From then on I found myself surrounded by theories, studies and reflections on mobility and tourism. I learnt, that “being outside the mainstream is original” and therefore took the liberty of passing-up a chance to visit York Minster. I heard, that “each journey has different auspices” and therefore calmly awaited my own presentation with a lucky penny in my pocket.
I couldn’t become a tourist until the Saturday afternoon. Then I became fascinated with the medieval facades now housing modern shops. In typical English rainy weather, I wandered around the city walls and felt rewarded by this trip. Everything beautiful and memorable I captured with my camera.
In the latter evening, together with other conference participants, I attended a ghost walk. Listening to stories of marching Roman soldiers in the middle of the 20thcentury and of meetings with the dead at the graveyard, tourists shudder and scientists scratched their heads at the seemingly inexplicable.