Sunday, 1 February 2015

Jorvik Viking Centre and York's Chocolate Story

We've just got back from a weekend in York.  It's a good three hour drive from us, so not exactly a day-trip - well not for us anyway - but we had a really good time there.

Our main reason for going was the Jorvik centre as we have been learning about the Vikings - and it was so much better than I expected!  I really recommend it if you are at all interested.  When we first got in there was a large room with a glass floor showing the reconstructed Coppergate excavation works underneath.  It was interesting, although the boys weren't entirely grabbed by it, despite there being kid-friendly maps for them to find their way around.  They were excited to find mention of Alfred the Great though, as they had learned about him already.

From the excavation reconstruction room we climbed into a 6-seater "time capsule" ride that gently moved around the set of the viking village, with animatronic vikings, realistic smells, and a commentary throughout the ride.  The boys particularly liked the viking on the toilet!  After the ride we came out into a room with many artefacts, including two skeletons found during the original Coppergate dig.  Best of all was a living breathing "viking" who was more than happy to talk to the boys (and adults) about the artefacts that he had with him, some of which we were allowed to touch.  He was brilliant: engaging and fascinating, and made sure to point out the fossilised viking poo in the display next to him.  Finally we moved into a room with even larger displays and holographic vikings telling us about their own particular area of expertise: housewifery, blacksmithing etc.  From there to the gift shop where the boys bought a shield and some bows and arrows (with suction cups at the ends, not real, sharp arrow tips - happily for Mummy's peace of mind!)

Viking Poo!

It was simply excellent.  Museums aren't normally the boys' kind of thing and although there is usually a way of engaging them, they are always finished before the grown-ups - but even so, we were there for a good couple of hours, and all really enjoyed it.  Like I said, I really can't recommend it enough - but one word of advice if you are planning to go: BOOK ONLINE!  We arrived as they opened and the queue wasn't too big, but we jumped to the front anyway as we had pre-booked, and when we went past later there was a very long queue - no fun for anyone, let alone those with children!

After a refreshment break we headed up to the "Chocolate Story" and booked ourselves in on a tour for later in the afternoon, then while we waited, wandered up to York Minster for a bit of a nosey, especially as hubby has family links with the cathedral.  It is huge - really impressive, but when we went inside it was very busy with a long queue, and we felt the boys would not handle this as well as the other visits, all in one day, and we probably didn't have enough time to do the tour before we were due at the Chocolate Story anyway, so we only stayed long enough for a few photos.  I'd love to go back for a proper look another time...

Finally we made it back to the York Chocolate Story - and again, what a brilliant experience!  A friendly tour guide took us through various rooms where we could taste samples, watch short videos and generally learn about the history of chocolate from the discovery of the cocoa bean in Aztec times, right up to modern day confectionery. (nb you have to have the tour - you can't go at your own speed, which may be a drawback for SEN families).  It held the boys' attention really well, and they particularly enjoyed the hands-on parts, not least because we all got to make our own chocolate lollipops to take home!  I would share a photo but as I'm sure you will appreciate, the chocolate was consumed long before I remembered my camera!  Again, I strongly recommend this place: well worth a visit!

So, what a great time we had in York!  I'd love to go back for more some time - the whole city is just packed with history and brilliant places to go!  Do visit if you can...

1 comment:

  1. York has always been my fave city! I love the pictures youve posted and glad you had a great time