Though grand estates and over-sized rocks are pretty neat, I found great joy re-exploring York as a local expert rather than as a tourist. Unlike 2 months ago, my camera stayed in my pocket as I navigated the streets, leading the way to my favorite restaurants, gardens, and cafes while my parents gasped and squealed behind saying, "I see now why you don't wanna to come home!" I'm not sure when I stopped feeling like a tourist—though I never stopped loving and appreciating York. It took mistake after mistake like over-tipping waiters, waiting for servers in pubs, and asking naive questions such as "how much with tax?" (Their tax is already included in the listed price, as it should be everywhere). But somewhere along this adventure, I've moved in, and now I feel like an experienced England-er showing the country off to my family.
As we were in York over Easter, the crowds were thick and the traffic was heavy. So, we adventured outside the city center up into North Yorkshire where Castle Howard stands tall and important in the countryside. My history of the building is weak, but I do know the grand castle has been handed down through generations to the current family with 8-year-old twins, and to keep the place running, they cash in money from tourists (just like the castle of Downton Abbey). The castle looks more like a palace, though, as it isn't a great fortress; however, it does have extravagantly carved rooms of marble and stone, decorated with fabric wallpaper, massive tapestries, and painted portraits on the ceilings and walls, and the gardens go on forever, full of fountains, orchards, hiking trails, and monuments. I can't imagine growing up in the elegance of that building.
Though England feels like home now, I understand that there is way more to see and learn—I learned that the English drive in miles-per-hour rather than kilometers-per-mile (which is what I thought they used) and I was introduced to the sweet almond desert called marzipan. I guess we never are local experts anywhere—we'll always be tourists in every city until the day we die.