Sunday, August 16, 2009

Whitby and Surrounding Areas...

As there was a lot of exciting stuff recommended to us in the Whitby area, we hung around the day after we arrived to soak up as much as possible. The day started with our breakfast which was left in a hamper for us outside our room. Not remembering the last time either of us had eaten breakfast in bed, we were very excited by the Enid Blyton/Famous Five-style breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, homemade cheese scones, swiss cheese, fruit loaf, yogurt, fresh apple juice, tea and coffee. Our Red-Riding Hood-themed room also gave us the perfect chance to pull out a wolf Kigu (perfect snuggly, fun road trip accessory and pose for a picture.

Leaving the hotel, we decided to try the Dracula experience on our way to catch a steam train. Whitby is where Bram Stoker wrote the famous novel on one of his stays in the neighbouring hotel to ours, The Royal Hotel. Vampire enthusiasts and goths (some taking permanent residence) flock from all over the world to experience the North Yorkshire Seaside Town that inspired Stoker:

"But, strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below... and running forward, jumped from the bow on to the sand. Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway to the East Pier ... it disappeared in the darkness."

from Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1897

We thought we were pretty hardcore but I am not going to lie, we screamed and jumped out of our skin at one point during the experience when a man in a scream mask flew over some railings, out of NOWHERE! So the cheesy little attraction had a bit more of an impact than expected ahem...but moving swiftly on...

The North Yorkshire Moors steam train travels from Whitby Station all the way to Pickering which is 30 miles away and stops at various villages along the way (At night it turns into a fine-dining restaurant so for something a bit different you can book a table, dress up and enjoy a luxury, vintage dining experience). Keen to ride the steam train but conscious that we were driving to the Lake District the same day and wanted to arrive before dark, we opted for a short ride to the nearby village of Grosmont. After a beautiful mini-journey through grazing fields and rivers we arrived in time to have a quick cup of Yorkshire tea and pick up some train souvenirs before catching the train to Ruswarp. We spent the next hour in a 1920's style rowing boat on the lake. Not natural rowers (the guy running the boats had to row and give us a swift lesson- how embarassing!) and quite defeated by the strong wind it took us an hour to get the hang of it by which point our time was up!

Having just enough time to check out the cobbled streets on the Abbey side of the bridge in Whitby, we went and found the famous kipper smokery where you can send a kipper home(?). We smelt pretty smoky after just standing outside the rickety old smoke house so I dread to think what that package would smell like, as good as it might taste...

Time for one more cup of tea ('cos that's how things are done in Yorkshire much to Anna's approval) and a little Whitby crab sandwich before we said goodbye to this quirky little town. If/when we return we will also visit The Whitby Museum which is home to all sorts of interesting objects and artefacts. We would also book a night or two in a kitsch caravan at the La Rosa Campsite Extraordinaire to relax and enjoy the festival-style atmosphere.

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