Carlotta and her friend Michele students from Turin in Italy stayed with hosts Ruth and Alan in York on a short trip to the UK. Carlotta is studying Food and Consumer Sciences and is attending Dundee University in September to continue her studies.
This was my first homestay for me and, as you all can imagine, I was very nervous about it: spending many days with people I didn't know, in a place that was not my home, was very anxiety-inducing.
But from the very first moment they welcomed us in their house, it was very clear that this was going to be a relaxing, wonderful experience. They made sure that we had everything we needed and they were always available to show us around the city. If I think back to the week spent in York with them, I have two very fond memories: the delicious meals they prepared for us (including traditional dishes) and the day they offered to drive us to Castle Howard.
Carlotta at Atlas Fountain, Castle Howard
I don't think I would have gotten the same amount of care and concern from a hotel or a hostel. We got the chance to get fully immersed in the British lifestyle while enjoying a warm environment.
York is the city that conquered my heart. I had so many expectations and they were all fulfilled; the atmosphere is just perfect. You can either walk miles around the old walls or visit any museum. You can just relax in a park or spend your time in a cosy café, eating scrumptious scones and sipping tea. You can be fascinated by the history of this quaint town, or by its many legends (especially about ghosts!).
If you're more adventurous, Yorkshire offers you beautiful landscapes, with green hills, wide fields and rivers. If adventure is not your kind of thing, York has many different shops, from big brands to the most lovely little artisan shops. I can assure you that nothing about the city has disappointed me.
This is a side of the huge York Minster. They are always restoring it, in order to make it look perfect every day of the year!
In my opinion, if you decide to choose York as the destination of your trip, there are some must-see places that are worth the money. One of them is surely York Minster. It's one of the most stunning and biggest churches I've ever seen and, with the help of a guide, there is so much to learn about its history.
Then, if you enjoy a good walk, York is one of the few cities that still has the city walls almost intact. A true rarity. You can walk all around them and see the city from there.
If you have the opportunity to move, I also suggest Castle Howard. It might seem expensive, but it has a lot to offer. You can visit the castle with all the original pieces of furniture, walk around the garden which always has flowers and plants carefully attended, have a picnic in the parks or near the two lakes, and you can even follow the paths in the woods, which lead to little temples built in a Roman style. If you want to make good memories and especially have a relaxing day, Castle Howard is perfect for you. I'd also suggest it to photographers: so many marvellous subjects.
This is a front view of Castle Howard. You can tell from this picture that they take really good care of it.
Thanks to my hosts, I never had to worry about how I could get around the city or what to see. They were friendly, and they always offered to show us around. Plus, they made sure we got a very British experience: they cooked for us traditional dishes like flapjacks, Yorkshire puddings, steak pies and Bakewell tarts. They even gave us some to take home!! They were very open about their culture and willing to learn about ours, so I had to chance to learn a lot from them. We often talked about British politics, traditions, lifestyle, etc. I heard about the working hours that people usually have in England (very different from ours!), and I was surprised to discover that Britain is still a very religious country.
A lake view of Castle Howard. Such a quiet place.
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