What a week, and it’s only Wednesday! Monday was a lot of research work in the right direction, grocery shopping, knowingly passing Jack and Finn Harries on the street only to be so daydreamy that I missed them, running with Jordan along the Thames and going out to celebrate Emily’s 21st at The Roadhouse in Covent Garden. Mondays are a version of karaoke and though I wouldn’t be caught dead on the stage with my deafness, I had a fantastic time dancing with a slightly wobbly Emily and friends.
I woke up early on Tuesday to catch a coach to Oxford and in less than two hours I was on my own with my self-guided walking tour. I had realized during my time in Bruges that if I haven’t made plans or researched the city prior to arriving, I physically can’t get as much out of the trip. Well, physically, I could walk endlessly in circles (which seems to happen any way) and just tire myself out. So I did my research and google mapped a day route, even lunch. I started with the Ashmolean Museum and wandered through some Roman replicas and Renoir, Pissaro and the likes. Next was the Oxford Modern Art gallery where I explored some particularly white walls and an orange pyramid that smelt lovely. It said to take one, so I did. Can’t pass up free. I made my way down the street to Alice’s Store, dedicated to Alice in Wonderland. It was very small with too many Cheshire cats and no photography. I nearly missed it, wait I did miss it. I had to turn around because the map scale made Oxford seem huge–it isn’t. Getting lost and letting myself happen upon landmarks worked well after this point. I found Christ’s Church. Very Hogwarty, indeed. I didn’t go in immediately because the Cathedral wasn’t open just yet so I did my planned walk around Christ Church Meadows. The weather was unreal and these are the kind of adventures that make my heart burst. I passed the Botanic Gardens, happened upon the Magdalen Bridge and continued on to find the Radcliffe Camera, completely ignoring my map at this point. I couldn’t go inside the Radcliffe and I still don’t know what it is, but I liked it. I made it to the Bodleian Library next, not paying the entrance fee because I’ve seen a few books before, but the quadrangle inside was a nice find. Every University has a quadrangle in the center which happens to be a beautiful courtyard, much like our quad at Texas State, but better. Actually incomparably better. Oxford has it figured out and why Texas State couldn’t copy well is beyond me. After passing Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre (same architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London), I ducked into the White Horse to avoid the quick noon shower and grab a bite. I went full English with a steak, mushroom and ale pie with mash and vegetables and an Old Hooky brew to accompany. I so desperately needed a “home-cooked” meal like that. The sun came back out so I wandered to a few little shops and made my way back to Christ Church for a guided tour. Due to the weather (the sun…), it was cancelled, but I was given the go ahead to enter without paying the admission fee, which is like gold to me. The Cathedral was cool, except for the ornate, super great, one-of-a-kind ceiling one raves about that was completely enclosed behind scaffolding for repairs. Completely. No wonder I got in for free. Christ Church also has The Great Hall–the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Great Hall. It was quite beautiful. I can see how people would want to go to school here. After exiting, I noticed a man at the top of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin Tower and I just knew I had to go up. I explored their church and climbed the 127 steps to a 360 degree view of Oxford from the tallest tower in the area. I just had to stand there and question everything I’ve ever known because this joy I’m experiencing is unworldly. I spent the next couple hours walking the same blocks twelve times, going through a covered market, sifting sale racks, scrounging for wifi on stoops while eating a multigrain baguette and enjoying my modern art orange by a river bank. While sampling fudge (hey, they offered!), I talked to a young Brit who knew Austin, Texas for exactly what it is, being the odd little capital of Texas that we all love. I still don’t miss home yet though, sorry.
I was ready to get back on the coach and get home by the end of the day. I covered at least ten miles before dinner and my heels are becoming painfully damaged from my nonexistent soles. I spent Wednesday at the Tate Modern for class and wandered through the Richard Hamilton exhibition. This exhibit shows decades of his works and the progression was incredible. It’s a reminder that there is a lot of life to happen ahead of me.