Some of my friends and I took a train to Oxford. It’s about an hour away from where I am residing and we saw lovely countryside and a nuclear power plant. We walked around Oxford for about 5 hours. We started off by visiting Christ Church, which is one of Oxford’s many colleges, and it has a cathedral which is the Diocese of Oxford. More importantly, some of the Harry Potter films were shot here. Be sure to check out the photo album to the right. The Great Hall where the characters of the Harry Potter realm eat was based off of the hall at Christ Church. Sadly, it was closed to the public when we went, but I took a picture of it that was on a T-shirt so you could see it.
Our next stop was the Tuff Tavern. It was a hidden tavern and had the smallest sign known to man. I had chips (fries) and they were delicious. As we were leaving Greg bumped his glass and it fell to the ground and shattered. It was so sad and he said, “Did I do that?”
We then were off to stroll down the busiest street, so busy with foot traffic, only buses were traveling on the road. It was a long stretch of shops selling you name it. There, of course, was a Burger King and a Subway. We did not venture in those. But I have to admit, I did have Haagen Dazs the other day. I hadn’t had ice cream in over a week ok!
After shopping, my second goal for the trip (the first was seeing where HP was filmed) was to go to The Eagle and Child. It is also referred to as, The Bird and Baby. It is a histroic pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis discussed their books over pints. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were first read aloud at this pub. As you enter it seems quite small and has two somewhat private rooms to your right and left with a table and some chairs. Continuing down the corridor is the bar to your right and going just a bit further on the left was where my friends and I sat. Above us was a plaque describing who the “Inklings” were. I documented it with my camera. If you continue around the corner, there is a long hallway with tables on the side leading into a conservatory with more seats. I hadn’t yet seen a pub with a conservatory. You really wouldn’t expect it to be there either because it starts off with lots of dark wood and soft lighting like most pubs here. I felt honored to be in such a historic place.
We stayed at The Eagle and Child from 4:30 to 10. It was the longest time any of us had stayed at a pub. We had dinner there which was phenomenal. The pub food here is so much better than the U.S. I have to say. I had spinach, meat lasagna with garlic ciabatta and a mini salad. Two of my friends had fish and chips, one had clams and one had mashed potatoes and a hearty looking piece of meat. We were all very satisfied. I thought I would try a beer I had never heard of. Turns out it is something that the U.S. has.
One of my friends, Mandy, decided to engage in conversation with the two blokes sitting next to us. She began, “Excuse me, where did you get your murse?” Then she proceeded to explain to them what a murse is (a man purse) and of course they knew. She was a bit tipsy. But had she not asked them this question, we would not have met these people who, born and raised in Oxford, gave us an authentic view of what it is to be English. We spent the next few hours laughing at the fact that they were English and they laughed at us because we were American. It was a blast. All in all, it was a great day trip. We might go back.
On Saturday we went to Portobello Road Market which leads into Notting Hill. I had a Nutella cupcake which was absolutely fantastic. We walked up and down a few times, and it is one of the longest markets I have been to yet. There is even a man who walks around the market getting lunch for dealers who carries his dog on his back. He is a Portobello Road icon. He is very bald possibly with no teeth. We bought bagels which were from another market that we had been to earlier in the week, Brick Lane market. They are some of the best bagels I have had. They are much smaller than the bagels in the U.S. In fact, most food is much smaller in size here because there are not any hormones shoved into everything. For example, the bananas are half the size of our bananas.
In the evening Greg and I went out with our homestay brother and sister (Adam and Anna), her boyfriend (Jake) and their friend (Ben) to Adam’s gig in Camden Town. Adam runs a label called “Blood Tribe Records.” He is 20 and studying digital music at University. The gig was at the Inspiral Lounge where everything is organic, even the beer. I had some organic white wine, it was pretty good. The music was very ambient and eclectic. It was definitely a different atmosphere than we have been in yet. Somehow, through networking, at least half of our group that came from UW came to the Inspiral lounge. It ended up being 16 people and we decided we had literally outgrown the place and we moved to a larger venue.
The night ended early for Greg and I. We were exhausted. I spoke with my Anna this morning and she said, “That’s what happens when you spend everyday, all day out.” She is right.
This morning I woke up and it was snowing and all the trees were covered in snow. It was comforting in a way but I won’t be going outside. I don’t want to be cold today. Today I will stay in a read, homework of course. HA! Remember, I am here to study.
P.S. There has been some new images posted on Flikr as well.