Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Day in Oxford

I took a trip to Oxford! And since I went by myself, I guess I'm really feeling the need to share about it or something, because let's be honest - how often do I actually update this thing. It was so great though! I went to Cambridge on my study abroad in the spring and LOVED it, so I wanted to check this one out too. I'm not going to invest myself in the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry, so I'll just say that I loved them both ;)

Saturday morning I woke up at about 6:30, and after getting ready I walked for an hour to the station where the Oxford tube (which is actually a bus...) leaves (because I was too cheap to pay for the actual tube to get to the station). It was such a good choice, because the morning was BEAUTIFUL! I love London so much. You just walk through the streets and it's one incredible building after another. Like, what is commonplace here would be a major site in the U.S. I just can't get over it!

ahhh so polite hahaha

After some time trying to find my bus, I got on and enjoyed the 1.5 hr drive to Oxford. Since I made the trip pretty last minute, I hadn't done really any planning, except some to-do's that Hayley (one of the other interns) gave me from her experiences in Oxford. So I was really happy that my cute bus driver gave me a map, and there was WiFi so I could look things up on my way!

England is amazing. You're in this incredible city one moment, and then right when you leave you're surrounding by green, beautiful countryside.
I got to Oxford at about 11:15, and ran into the exact tour that I had been hoping to join - the footprints 2 hour free walking tour. Free? That's right up my alley haha! It was perfect because I got a fantastic overview of the city, with some awesome history and cool stories, so I felt a lot more confident after that just running around and seeing more of the sites. Below are some pictures that I took (mostly from the tour), with some of what I remember from the tourguide...but some info might be off, in which case, my bad! Sometimes I forget things I learn real quick...but that just makes life more exciting, right?! #alwaysrelearning

Sheldonian Theatre, surrounded by these busts that may or may not have been put there to instill fear into the hearts of the students. I mean, look at those eyes! 

Blackwell's Bookshop. Doesn't look like much...but underground there are over three miles of shelving, and has the largest single room selling books! 
I went into Blackwell's later and had a good look around. This doesn't show a whole lot, but it was pretty amazing!

Divinity Hall - Harry Potter came here to get fixed up after fighting with Voldemort!

Bodelian library (and below). Apparently Bodley made some agreement years ago that every book that is ever published in England has to have one copy in this library...and that rule still applies today! Crazy! 

but really it's all about Harry Potter. Pretty sure the restricted section is in there somewhere...only they won't let you get into it. Because I mean, it's restricted - duh.

Radcliffe camera. Which I think is funny, seeing how Daniel Radcliffe's last name is, well, Radcliffe. Also, apparently Oxford was kept super safe during WWII because Hitler specifically told the Nazis not to bomb it because he wanted this to become the new center of the empire, or something like that! So take that for what it's worth, but at least we still have Oxford today thanks to this incredible building!

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
I went back later and caught the end of some rehearsal in the St. Mary church! I always get super excited when I find ways to see sites without having to pay for them. 

Bridge of Sighs, aka NOT the one in Venice. But they're very proud of the fact that it's like 2 inches bigger than the one in Cambridge.
All Soul's College. I'm going to be admitted into that someday and get my PhD here. Not really, because entrance is ridiculous. And they have crazy weird rituals like dressing up like ducks while chasing ducks around once every 100 years. Gotta love weird Oxford traditions.
The Kissing Gate. Or just the gate that keeps the cattle and sheep from getting out, and barely lets the humans through.

Christ Church College. The meadows were really cool too, but it was freezing at that point and I didn't really get any good pictures. I went back later and explored some more (keep reading, folks).

Our awesome tourguide at the final finale, with the most dramatic story about a martyr being burned at the stake right where those bricks are. Seriously though, this guy was amazing. Definitely one of the best tours I've gone on!

After the tour, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Get this sweet little flea market kind of thing! I got a steamed pork bun for just over a pound, and an inarizushi for a pound. Sooo good and warm and homey (though, pretty sure both my sisters make better inarizushi!).

I needed a break from the cold and quickly walked through two (free!) museums. First was the Ashmolean Museum. Most random, disorganized museum ever...haha I was thoroughly entertained. I did what my mom and I do - got a list of the top things to see in the museum and just went around looking for those!

Powhatan's mantle. Because America.
With that beautiful face, how can I NOT be on the head of walls someday?
Van Gogh's pretty cool I guess
 Next was the science museum. Super little, but with one really cool, really nerdy thing...
Einstein's handwriting! What?! A piece of the chalkboard on which he explained his theory of relativity. I understand the whole thing. Really.
 Then I found my way through this sketchy passage to a sketchy tavern, where students have been wreaking havoc for centuries.

when this is what you're famous for

The tourguide didn't have time to take us to the lamppost that allegedly inspired C.S. Lewis to place a lamppost just inside the border of Narnia. I really wanted to find it, and I knew around where it was, but it's unmarked and I wasn't having much luck. Until I overheard someone talking about C.S. Lewis, and it just so happened that a completely different tour was headed that way right then! So I listened in, was pointed towards the sought-after lamppost, and patiently waited for them all to leave so I could have sufficient time to take pictures of the very important fixture. I was pretty pumped.

The golden fauns and door from the movie, with the lamppost in the background. For a minute, I thought I was in Narnia. So much so that here are two more pictures!

If you haven't noticed yet, I'm not the hugest fan of spending lots of money. But I decided that I was at Oxford, so if I were to spend money on something, it should probably be to see Christ Church College. I mean, we're talking Harry Potter people. It was awesome.

The Great Hall was modeled after this! It was much cooler in real life. They couldn't film here though because the college insists on feeding its students here three meals a day. I think I've found my dream home.
I found John Locke!
Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, aka writer of Alice in Wonderland. I kind of love that that ugly metal thing is there because it was really fun seeing the workers preparing to serve the students dinner. We even saw a group of students walk by in their black robes - because they eat dinner in their robes every night!
The Alice in Wonderland windows. You can see Alice in the bottom left corner of the top left window pane, and other fun creatures thoughout.
kind of fuzzy, but those little brass characters on either side are also reminiscent of Alice when her neck grows all weird...

But let's not get too off topic. Back to Harry Potter. Professor McGonagall welcomed me to Hogwarts at the top of these stairs! #ifonly
let's play some quidditch.

 The funny part of the tour was so super typical of me, it's ridiculous. I was super enthralled by everything and just enjoying it a much so, that I completely mis-read the super easy map and walked right out of it all while completely missing the entire cathedral! When I realized that, I went back and asked if I could enter again to see the cathedral, admitting that I had, um, missed it. They were about to let me, but it was too late - the doors closed 15 minutes earlier. So, I did what I usually do to get into cathedrals for free - went to Evensong! I don't have pictures from that since it was an actual service, but it was pretty neat. It was a lot more intimate than the ones at, say, Westminster Abbey (where it's mostly tourists), which was fun because I got to talk to a super cute older couple next to me whose friend was there being canonized, and I learned a lot! Plus the closing hymn was "How Great Thou Art," aka basically one of my top favorite hymns, so I just sang my little heart out in that beautiful cathedral ;)

In between getting locked out of Christ Church and being let back in for Evensong, I made a few more essential stops around the town.
For dinner, I found a cute shop in a covered marketplace. I bought a Cornish pasty for like a little over a pound, which was super filling...and not very good haha! I don't know if they are usually hot or not, but I kind of felt like I was eating a cold hot pocket. mmmmmm
My second pub of the day. Because you know, everyone knows how much I enjoy drinking (aka I definitely don't drink...just in case anyone actually is wondering). But this is totally where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein (two of my faves!!) would meet and talk about philosophy, religion, their stories, etc.! So cool! It was definitely worth pushing through people and having a good look around before leaving.
Again, not condoning the drinking or anything...but LOTR? All over that.
 All in all, a very successful trip!! It started raining literally minutes after I got back in the bus and left Oxford - another tender mercy :) I arrived in London around 9PM and still had an hour's walk back, because I was still too cheap to take the tube. Even though it was raining. But, I got to walk through Oxford Circus (ironic) and other fun, happening areas of London, so that was exciting! And there were loads of people and my flatmates were keeping tabs on me, so for any concerned parents out there, I felt very safe ;)

I had a better picture of this, but I uh accidentally erased the good one instead of the fuzzy one. Oops.
That's it! It was great!