Until this morning, when I read about it in eTurboNews, I hadn’t heard about York, England’s “world famous” (as the Visit York website puts it) smellable travel guide to that alluring city, adding a key sensory sensation to what is normally a sight-only medium.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a smellable picture must add a few hundred more.
The guide, called Smell York — which is straightforward enough, though I might have chosen something less edgy like “York Aromas” — invites you to scratch and sniff 12 different scents to cajole you into literally sniffing out various York attractions and shops.
Some are clearly pleasant — drawing you towards the city’s chocolatiers, tea shops, and floral gardens — and others perhaps less seductive. For instance, one scratch and sniff yields the “haunting aromas of ghosts,” which apparently combine sulfurous notes with those of roses.
Never having smelled a ghost — I don’t think — I can’t really say whether that’s accurate. But York, which had its share of violence back in the day, does have a reputation for being one of England’s most haunted cities — its nighttime ghost tours are very popular — so ghostly smells make sense (or scents, however you wish to put it).
Other smells that appear include railroads — York is home to the National Railway Museum, one of the greatest of its kind in the world — and the horse track. I’m not sure how that one is captured, exactly.
The Visit York e-store, from which the Smell York guide is available for £5.00 (even smells aren’t free these days) promotes the book in sensuous terms: “Each of the 12 images inside has been scientifically infused with a nose-tingling bouquet of complementary smells.”
The cover depicts a woman breathing in the word “York,” or at least making a good start at inhaling the “k.”
One aroma I haven’t heard mentioned is that of fish and chips fresh out of the fryer. Now that would get me to plunk down my £5.00.
For those who haven’t been to York, it’s a medieval walled city in the north of England (Yorkshire) that’s infused with enough compelling history and attractions to fill several days, whether you can smell them or not.
Besides the Railway Museum, there’s York Minster, an imposing Gothic cathedral that sports medieval stained glass windows. You can climb 275 steps to the top of the tower, the highest point in the city.
And there’s a raft of fun attractions: the York Castle Museum, which takes you back to Victorian England and some of the castle’s famous inmates; the York Dungeon, a funny-scary romp through the city’s most infamous events and characters; and the Jorvik Viking Center, which colorfully recreates a thousand-year-old Viking city.
When I visited York several years ago, I enjoyed all these semi-theme-park-like attractions, but I also liked just walking around the old city walls and wondering whether my B&B was indeed haunted, as the proprietress claimed (you’d think that might lessen the price, but apparently not).
My one warning is: don’t go to a Mexican restaurant in York, order an enchilada and expect it to resemble anything you’ve ever eaten or even imagined eating before, unless, I guess, you’re from York. Stick to what the English do best: fish, chips and mushy peas.
You can check out more of York’s attractions — and order a copy of Smell York if your olfactories are sufficiently stimulated — by going to the Visit York website.