Friday, October 9, 2015

Oxford (or: One Last Hurrah before London)

My time in the UK was drawing to a close, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit the second oldest university in the world before taking off to the east.

So I hopped on a bus and headed off to the home of an excellent book publisher, an absolutely essential comma, and loads of croquet players.

Ok, I didn't really have a plan for this part of the trip. It was close, bus fares were cheap, so I decided to go for it.

Oxford is another of those places that's so storied and that has turned out so many Very Important People that you almost get a sense of deja vu visiting there and seeing all the familiar names on the street signs and colleges and statues. It's also a very picturesque city.

With no real plan for my day, I joined a walking tour that allowed us access to some of the generally verboten colleges.

I loved the architecture of the 1000+ year old town, and I loved the sense of history as you wander the streets and enter the college grounds. ("This is the pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis liked to meet." "This is the college that four previous prime ministers attended." "This is the room that the Great Hall in the 'Harry Potter' movies was designed after." Etc.)

The tour guide also explained that each of the many colleges that comprise the university has its own culture and traditions and areas of study - something I honestly didn't know.

He also told us that CS Lewis was inspired to write The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by... This doorway?

The elaborate lion on the doorway is Aslan? I didn't really understand. 

We also saw this building, which is - if I'm remembering correctly - where college graduation ceremonies are held.

After the tour, I visited the Museum of Natural History and the adjacent Pitts River Museum. The former had lots of fascinating gems and minerals, and the latter was one of the most interesting museums I've ever visited. Every inch of floor space is filled with display cases filled with anthropological items from cultures around the world, and the walls are covered from floor to ceiling with even more displays. It felt a bit chaotic and overwhelming, but you were basically guaranteed to see something interesting everywhere you turned.

And... That was basically my day. It was a good day trip, and an excellent way to wrap up this section of my trip.

1 comment:

  1. Another fascinating blog. So glad you visited there so we could read about it.Some amazing architecture there too. Interesting gargoyles to inspire CS Lewis. Such ornate buildings and beautiful stained glass windows..Must be quite an experience to attend school there.