York’s Magnificent Attractions: Superbreak Familiarisation Trip 2013

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Guest post by Superbreak Sales Advisor Dinah Burke…

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‘Magnificent’ is a word often overused and misapplied but it certainly was apt in describing the weekend experience I enjoyed recently.  Accompanied by an eclectic group of participants I relished a day sampling a slice of Yorkshire’s splendid attractions centred on the historic city of York.

Our group was based at the excellent Cedar Court Hotel in Wakefield – very handily located adjacent to one of the junctions on the M1 and not far from the M62 intersection.  The hotel was also easily accessible from Wakefield stations by taxi or bus.  Our Hostess for the weekend was the personable Natalie McGuire from the Cedar Court Hotels Group who really looked after us and was warm and friendly.

On the Friday evening the group was met by Natalie along with the General Manager of the Cedar Court, Wakefield and members of staff from the other Cedar Court hotels, and was treated to an intimate drinks reception followed by a spectacular 3-course meal in one of the hotel’s principal dining rooms.  An appearance by a ‘Take That’ tribute band provided an appealing start to the weekend!

After enjoying ‘A Yorkshire breakfast’ on the Saturday morning we were swept north along the M1 by driver Ken in a coach to York.  We were dropped off close to the prestigious National Railway Museum.  The weather was dank, but did not dampen the high spirits of the group as we approached our first stop – the Yorkshire Museum.

Recently reopened following a nine month £2million refurbishment programme, the museum is now beautifully redesigned with state of the art displays, interactive videos and easy to follow descriptions of artefacts.  The manager gave an impassioned and entertaining account of the rebirth of the museum including a vivid description of how he discarded his jacket and tie to muck in with the bricklayers and plasterers himself.  The Yorkshire Museum is now a ‘must-see’ destination for visitors and residents alike.

Wandering through the quaint streets, enjoying professional street theatre performers and passing by pubs claiming to be haunted, anticipation of the group’s next visit to York’s Chocolate Story – one of the city’s newest attractions – was unrestrained.  A combination of amusing and interesting historical anecdotes about York’s famous chocolate-making families, surprising information about the origins of and science behind chocolate production and the opportunity to make and taste the product, made for an irresistible cocktail of experiences.  This certainly was a guided tour to enthral all ages.

Despite the chocolate interlude, the group was able to accommodate an opulent ‘afternoon tea’ at the luxurious Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa – York’s only 5 star hotel.  Enjoying beautifully trimmed finger sandwiches and perfectly miniature cakes (not to mention scones with clotted cream and jam) in the former board room of the Victorian Railway owners overlooking York City walls, the group was able to muse on the fact that life wasn’t so bad after all.  Hostess Natalie then gave us a tour around the ornate hotel, visiting the spacious hotel rooms, charming bars and restaurant areas, including a first floor terrace, and the award-winning pool and spa facility.

Suitably bedazzled, the group again meandered across the ancient streets of the city to the next port of call – York Castle Museum.   Again an enthusiastic guide welcomed the group and explained the history of the museum and then left us to the experience.  The world famous Victorian Street, Kirkgate, the prison cells and the intriguing 60’s gallery were immensely interesting and thoughtfully laid out.  The museum will be further enhanced in 2014 with the opening of a new exhibition, ’1914: When the World Changed Forever’ to coincide with the centenary of the start of World War 1.

Despite so many new experiences but not quite yet ‘museum-ed out’, we moved on finally to the Jorvik Viking Centre to enjoy the multi-media approach to the reconstruction of Viking-Age streets as well as piecing together information about where the Vikings came from, why they came and how they lived and died.  Once again on this day of entertaining talks, the guides were authoritative, informative and engaging.

Reunited with Ken, our jolly coach-driver, the group ghosted back to the Cedar Court, Wakefield – ghosted because most of the group had no recollection of the return journey, having slept through it! Many thanks to Natalie and her team for organising an excellent Yorkshire weekend.

Have you visited any of these top attractions in York? Let us know what you thought in the comments below…

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