Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Stinkiest Tourist Attraction of All Time

Chumley has a thing for Vikings. It took me the longest time to remember the difference between a longboat (Viking ship) and a narrowboat (houseboats that leisurely troll the English rivers and aquaducts, at a pontoon's pace.) Whenever I'd slip and say, "Look, a longboat!" he'd reply, "Really? AARRRGH!"

So, it came as no surprise that he was interested in visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. York used to be called Jorvik when the Vikings arrived, pillaged, plundered, and made themselves at home between 800 and 900. William the Conqueror finally gave the Vikings the boot when he took over in 1066.

When York was excavating the center of the city in the 70's, they started finding a treasure trove of Vikings and their stuff, so much so that it warranted a museum to display it all. Someone took a cue from Walt Disney and designed Jorvik as a ride, where you get in a car that transports you through a recreated Viking settlement with animatronic people and all the relics laid out as they would have been used. For all the pictures of Vikings with unruly hair, there were some very ornate and perfectly preserved hair combs on display.

The first thing one notices after hopping in the car is a certain funk. After Chumley and I confirmed that both of us had remembered deodorant that morning, we figured out that the manky, somewhat smokey smell was piped in for our olfactory enjoyment. It was a nice touch until the ride took a turn for the worse. The kind designers of Jorvik the museum had seen fit to show a man squatting behind a small wicker fence, as he rocked, grimaced, and grunted. It took a moment to sink in, but much to our horror, he was animatronically reinacting taking a giant poo. As our car too slowly went past, an unmistakable sewer smell wafted our way.

Two things occured to me. I have no doubt that poo is historically accurate. However, is it that enlightening to demonstrate it to the masses? Secondly, where on earth does one procure a synthetic sewer smell? At least, I hope it was synthetic.

Just when I thought Jorvik had gone way too far, we disembarked our cars and took in some of the relics displayed in glass cases. A young woman dressed in Viking regalia dared the children in our group to guess what a large, oblong stone was on display in the case next to her. Compounding our horror, it turns out to be the largest mineralized human turd ever discovered, and quite rare at that. Archaeologists everywhere rejoice! And I thought the recent news story of a drunk girl falling in and needing rescued from a porta-potty after accidentally flushing her purse was the height of weirdness. We have a new winner.

So, the giant fossilized turd continues to haunt me, much like the pack of rabid Yorkshire terriers did. Chumley does not miss an opportunity to remind me of the experience, which promptly comes wafting back.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I cannot imagine anyone who would enjoy that experience less than you. Truly awful! I am still laughing!