This has been a weekend of museums! Oxford seems to be full of them and, best of all, most of them are free or very inexpensive for students (shh, don’t tell, I’m still using my Colby ID card because it doesn’t have my graduation date printed). On Sunday morning, I took a tour of the Oxford Castle, a structure built in the early eleventh century and has been used as a prison since then (it just stopped housing prisoners in 1996 and at that point it was opened to the public for the first time). I took a tour that led us up to the top of the tower which over looked the whole city – clearly at one point in history it was used to keep an eye out for invading armies but yesterday it offered a great vantage of the Oxford business school to which I’ll be applying in a few years. We then went down into the crypt, supposedly the most haunted place in Oxford and got to view the old (and newer) jail cells. After that, I got to go on a special tour (they’re only running it a few months and only on the weekends) of a new area of the castle they’re just beginning to excavate.
After the castle tour, I went over to the Ashmolean museum, another Victorian style museum with a little of everything. It had some of the most eclectic collections I’ve ever seen including a wall of fob watches, a wing full of Egyptian artifacts, a room of porcelain painted plates, and a hall of master painters including Monet, Picasso, and Cézanne. I ended up spending a lot more time there than I expected and it was getting a bit late in the afternoon by the time I left to walk through Christ Church College (the Harry Potter college) but didn’t feel like paying the L5 entrance fee to go inside a few of the buildings so walked around the meadow and down to the water where there were hundreds of students enjoying the nice weather (the weather has been spectacular this weekend).
I was quite tired so after some more Indian food for dinner I had an early night getting ready to check out of my B&B and head back to London the next day.
Today, I started off by going back to the Oxford Museum of Natural History and Pitt-Rivers Museum again because I hadn’t really had time to view them properly when I visited the Friday before. I ended up spending the entire morning there and still felt like I hadn’t see most of what they had to offer. It was great! The Pitt-Rivers museum had an exhibit on body art and appearance and covered all styles of bodily adornment from all over the world. It was really interesting and they had some very unique artifacts.
After that, I had lunch with Mikki and Sophie, the girls who took care of me on my birthday, and we ate in this cute little coffeeshop in Gloucester Green Square. They’ve been so nice to spend so much time with me when they have finals this week! After lunch, I said goodbye to my new friends and headed to the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments which was such a strange little building! I thought it was going to be a proper museum but it was a side room off of the Oxford music buildings and I had to ring a bell to be let in. It was a fantastic collection, though, and there were some really beautiful old instruments.
Now, I’m back on the Oxford Tube, heading into London. I’m spending the night with my mom’s friend Mimi again but I really hope I have a place to live before the end of the week! I’m going to take this week to get settled with house and job for the next three months. Let’s see how that goes! Besides, there’s plenty of museums to keep me busy in London alone!
What a fantastic last few days! I’ve done so much fun stuff that I’m going to try to bullet point the last few days so this doesn’t become another mile-long post.
– Got off bus in (gorgeous) city centre and walked the 1.5 miles over to my B&B (a task made more difficult by the giant backpacking backpack I had – I must have looked ridiculous!) and checked in, cleaned up and ditched my bags.
– Headed back into the city proper to explore, ended up walking around for over five hours and wow, this city is beautiful! I wandered through the old Bodleian library area (the library itself was closed but we could go in the courtyard) and saw the iconic Radcliffe Camera:
– Continued my walk through the city and found myself at the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt-Rivers Museum. The MoNH was fairly standard – dinos, bird replicas, stuffed animals, and had a lot of cool specimens however the really fantastic bit was the Pitt-Rivers museum. It was arranged like a traditional Victorian era collection hall with rows and rows and rows of shelves of international “curiosities” from all over the globe. They had everything from sewing needles to string instruments to shrunken heads. It was impossible to even get an idea of a small part of the collection because there was so much there. Hopefully I’ll swing back today or tomorrow to continue looking.
– Started to make my way back towards my B&B and cut through the Oxford park where I saw the large cricket pitch. If there’s a match on today I might try to watch for a bit, although I don’t have the slightest idea how cricket is played.
– Had an early dinner at an Indian restaurant and then crashed at about 9:30 and slept for 10 hours after my busy day!
Yesterday was my birthday (22! Yikes!) and I was perfectly prepared to spend it the same way as the day before, sort of exploring on my own (seriously, this whole trip is like, the world’s biggest birthday present) but I had the treat of meeting with Mikki and Sophie, two girls that my friend Laura met while studying abroad at Oxford and who had come to Colby to visit. I had spent they day with them when they visited at Colby and I was going to have morning coffee with them. They ended up showing me all around their college (Worcester) which was great because it’s exam time and most of the colleges are closed to public viewing and taking me on a tour up the tall church tower which was approximately three thousand steps up (alright, so like, 150) but at the top looked out over the whole city. It was amazing! I have tons of pictures which I’ll be uploading soon. I mentioned that it was my birthday and they really generously offered to make me a cake and celebrate with me that night! I let them get back to their studies and spent the rest of the day as follows:
– Went to the Botanical Gardens, which were stunning. They were first created to house plants used for medical experiments but now have plant species from all over the world in really nice gardens.
– Headed over to Christ Church college, one of the filming sites and set inspirations for Harry Potter but the college was closed to visitors so I couldn’t get in. Instead, I went in the picture gallery, a site on Christ Church that houses dozens of really fantastic Renaissance art from some incredibly important artists.
– Made my way to the Oxford Museum of Modern Art but it was closed while they set up a new exhibit – guess I’ll just have to come back to Oxford in a few weeks!
– Checked out some of the shopping areas, specifically looking for something cute to wear that night when I met Sophie and Mikki’s friends but gave up as by the mid afternoon, the crowds had gotten overwhelming!
– Headed back to the B&B for some relaxation and to get away from the crowds.
– Got an early dinner at a well reviewed sea food restaurant. My first Fish and Chips in Britain!
– Went back to the B&B for something I’d been looking forward to all week – Doctor Who!! I finally got to watch my first episode live and it was fantastic :). Had way too much fun watching and am really disappointed there are only four more episodes this season!
– Walked over to Mikki and Sophie’s college where they had made me a cake, complete with candles and had gathered their friends (who can resist free cake?). It was so much fun spending time with them, they were all so nice and friendly and we got along really well. After cake and Pims (the Oxford drink of choice apparently – consumed with lemonade and strawberries), we went to a traditional English pub where I got hard cider (a traditional English drink) and continued to make fun of one another’s countries until I had to catch the last bus back to my B&B.
Wow, so much for keeping this shorter! I’ll just have to start updating more frequently or doing less.
I think I’ll updated more :).
Just a quick update because I have to take advantage of internet access when I can get it! I’m on the Oxford Tube, a bus that for L18 round trip will take me from London to Oxford and back again in a comfortable, coach bus with internet access. Sweet.
I’m heading out of the city to view the college town of gleaming spires (that’s Oxford) and am really excited to see how I like it!
<a href=”http://megabroad.livejournal.com/782.html”>Listen to my phone update from the JFK Airport in New York before leaving for London</a>
On the day of my graduation from Colby College, I received an email from myself I had writen about a year and a half earlier. I wrote:
Subject: Email from the Past
Dear Future Version of Me,
Congratulations on making it to Graduation day! Right now is seems so far away (although I try not to think too much about it… it’s coming up pretty rapidly). By this point I probably have a job lined up, or at least plans for the summer. Maybe I’m traveling some where, or maybe I’m going to graduate school (although that seems a bit unlikely). Today is January 1st, 2007 and it\’s the start of a new year. I want to make this year a fresh start, I want to worry less and try to have more fun. Did I succeed?
In the coming year, I’m going to try to work on my party website (in case I never did, and I forgot about it, it’s a website that targets people aged 18-28 and helps them plan parties on small budgets in small spaces), do some investing, and generally try to enjoy myself more and be happier. Having a lighter course load should help.
Today, January 1, 2007 and I am leaving home tomorrow to go back to school. I’m going to miss my family a lot. I’ll bet none of that’s changed. I hope I am still healthy and safe, and I am surrounded by my family on this special day as I move to a new point in my life. Congratulations, I never could have made it this far without me…keep up the good work!!
Written at Mon Jan 01, 2007
Well, I may not have a job lined up, but as I predicted, I am taking some time to travel. In fact, tomorrow, I am getting on a plane bound for London and won’t be returning for six months. I’m just finishing the final preperation for my trip and I’m really getting down to the wire here – one more load of laundry, a few more things shoved in the suitcase, a couple of last-ditch efforts to actually find a job before I arrive (looking less and less likely) then I’m on my way. I’ve been planning this trip for almost half a year now and I can’t believe it’s finally here. I can’t wait to share my experiences abroad and, oh – past self? I’ve definitely been enjoying myself.