The plane was an hour late leaving San Francisco and arriving at London/Heathrow due to reasons unexplained by our flight crew. Because of our tardiness, there was an aircraft occupying our designated arrival gate so we had to wait another 30 minutes to deplane. The delay wasn’t an issue for me since my rental car reservation wasn’t for another couple of hours but it was a bit of a nail biter for those with close flight connection times. I cleared immigration, collected my luggage and was through customs in less than 30 minutes so I had plenty of time to kill before picking up my car. Wanting to appear to the rental car agent as a wide awake and alert driver versus a half asleep passenger who had just spent the last 10 hours traveling, I chose to heavily caffeinate myself. Whilst driving on the left side of the road really isn’t that difficult, piloting the vehicle from the right side can prove to be somewhat disconcerting. One wants to present an appearance to the rental car agency that you are more than up to the task. Not to mention that the roadway system through and leading out of the airport to the motorway seems to have been fashioned after a plate of spaghetti that had been dropped upon the floor and half eaten by the dog. If it weren’t for the GPS, I’d still be circling the long stay car park.
Once on the motorway, I was able to finely hone my driving skills reaching the pinnacle by being able to sip on a cup of coffee whilst driving with only one hand on the wheel (in the 2:00 position) and change out of the slow lane to pass several slow moving lorries. I felt very accomplished. Adding to my excitement, on my way to York, I passed through Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest. These places really do exist! And here I always assumed the land of Robin Hood and his merry men in tights only existed in the mind of Walt Disney.
York is a walled city situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage of events throughout much of its two millennia of existence. Founded by the Romans under the name of Eboracum in AD 71, it became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and lost two thirds of its residents to the plague in the mid-1600s. In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. Whilst not confirmed, I’ guessing this is where York Peppermint Patties originated.
Wandering about the medieval portion of what’s left of York’s walled city, I did what I do best; I got hungry. Having not eaten since I deplaned some 7 long hours previous, I had reason to be a bit peckish. It was down to two restaurants; both French cafes and both offering “Early Bird” set menus. I chose the one with the slightly better price point. Honestly, I was anticipating a decent meal given the menu options and appearance of the establishment but I wasn’t expecting the truly excellent meal that was provided. The mussels in white wine, garlic, shallot and heavy cream sauce alone were worth the (harrowing) drive through the narrow city streets. What is even more amazing is that the restaurant is part of a chain with some 42 locations scattered across the UK: Côte Brasserie http://www.cote-restaurants.co.uk. When in York (or the UK for that matter) you must stop in for a nosh. Try the Dark Chocolate Pot with Crème fraîche. Think chocolate truffle in a pot.