September 18th, 2012
June 30th, 2012
June 28th, 2012
This should come as no surprise but while I’ve been in England, I’ve noticed some unusual differences between the States and here. And driving on the opposite side of the road isn’t one of them.
- The Brits don’t have much American junk food and what they do have, the have to pay an arm and a leg for. $14 for a box of Lucky Charms? You wouldn’t pay more than $5 in the States. Then again, Lucky Charms and all other American junk food is imported and therefore, more expensive.
- For the first time in my life, I’m ahead of the technological curve. Usually I’m months, if not years, behind on the latest technology (have, and still use, an ipod video) but the Kindle Fire has yet to reach British shelves, as I found out yesterday. So me reading on my Kindle Fire in the lobby yesterday came as a bit of a shock to the hotel worker who asked me about it.
- Different words for different things. Here’s the short list (British word on left): Chips=fries, crisps=chips, pants=underwear, trousers=pants and petrol=gasoline
- Breakfast standard includes sauteed mushrooms
- British yogurt is thinner than yogurt in the US. (there’s also an added “h” in the spelling making it yoghurt)
- Happiness and frustration during a football match are vocalized by very similar groans and moans from the crowd watching.
- The Brits aren’t big on AC. In fact, if it’s too hot, you have to open a window to get some air flow.
I think that’s it so far. I’ll add more if I think of any.
June 28th, 2012
Yesterday, Leslie and I had a leisurely morning. We decided to not attend the lecture for the day and instead lounged in our room writing postcards and checking email.
For lunch, we made our way over to Pret, a local sandwich chain that makes their sandwiches fresh each day and gives the leftovers to local homeless shelters. Once we grabbed our lunches, we attempted to find a place to sit and eat. We inadvertently made our way over to Magdalen (pronounced Maud-lyn) College, which was where we’d planned on meeting the rest of the group an hour or so later for a tour. We sat on the sidewalk next to the river to eat since we couldn’t find any tables to use.
After we finished our lunches, we still had an hour to kill, so we wandered down High Street and popped into whatever shops caught our eye. We went into a sweets shop, which reminded me of the sweets shop from the beginning of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but of course I did. I got some cherry licorice and a Banoffee and caramel chocolate bar. But the thing that surprised me the most was the box of Lucky Charms that cost 9 pounds! That’s roughly $14. Then, Leslie reminded me that it’s imported to England which is why it’s so expensive.
After perusing a few more shops, we made our way back to Magdalen College and met up with the rest of our group on the way. We toured the chapel, and were told by the Vice President of the College that Oscar Wilde had read a piece of scripture from the pulpit. We also saw where C.S. Lewis sat during services in the chapel.
After the tour, I headed back to the hotel while the others continued to wander about the city. I planned to meet everyone for dinner at 6. But instead of taking a 20 minute nap, I took an hour and a half nap and didn’t wake up until quarter after 6! I went downstairs anyway, thinking that I’d eat dinner at the hotel, but to my surprise, a few of our group were downstairs and we decided to eat at The Head of The River pub, which is just down the street from our hotel. I discovered Orange and Ginger cider, which tasted quite a bit like ginger ale and had gnocchi for dinner.
When we got back to the hotel, Leslie and I sat in the lobby with the rest of our group and finished watching the football match between Portugal and Spain.
Today, most of the group is heading to London for the day, so we’ll see what I end up doing. Leslie and I are going to London Saturday.
June 27th, 2012
Today, we headed off to the Kilns, which is where C.S. Lewis lived from 1930 til his death in 1963. We were lead around the house by the Scholar in Residence, Johnathan, who actually lives at The Kilns. We also met the cat Warley, named after C.S. Lewis’s brother who lived at The Kilns with him. The cat took a liking to anyone who would pet him.
While touring the house, we learned that none of the furniture in the house was original, but was reconstructed through photographs taken throughout C.S. Lewis’ time at The Kilns. We also learned that, much like the Pevensie children in The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe were taken in by Professor Kirke during World War II, C.S. Lewis took in children during the London bombings in WWII. Though the woman he lived with, Jane Moore, the mother of a friend and fellow soldier, only allowed girls to live with them and she interviewed them personally before allowing them to stay.
The house is small and the stairs narrow, but it was really interesting to see where C.S. Lewis lived for over half of his life.
After we visited The Kilns, we walked up the street to C.S. Lewis’s church to see where he’s buried. The church also has a “Narnia window” that was installed in 1991. It depicts well-known characters and objects, like the Dawn Treader, from the books.
For lunch, we stopped at the Six Bells pub. It was a little crowded since there are 45 of us, including the group from Regent. We also had to go up to the bar to order food, instead of having some one come to our table and take our orders. We had fun though, and timed lunch perfectly because as soon as we were seated, it started pouring outside.
We had a lecture back at the church following lunch, then headed back to Oxford’s city center, where we split off for dinner and a bit of shopping.
For dinner, Leslie, Dr. Haller, Brandon, Mr. Nichols, Ryan, Laura, Jessica and I ate at the Turf Tavern, which was hidden in between some buildings. We had to go down a narrow alley way and I wasn’t sure if I was about to be in Oliver! or Sweeney Todd. We all made it to the restaurant in one piece and had a great time, chatting for nearly 3 hours. Though, I am a bit sick of pub food.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Magdalen College, where Lewis taught.
June 25th, 2012
This morning, Leslie and I went to Blenheim Palace with her cousins. The drive was only half an hour and it was really nice. From the outside, the palace reminded me of Schloss Sansouci in Postsdam, Germany. The outsides looked very similar, but Blenheim is much bigger.
We started our day at the palace in the gardens, which were very pretty. We stopped at the little temple where Winston Churchill proposed to his wife and then we may have suck into a rose garden to take pictures of the flowers, but the gate wasn’t locked and we didn’t destroy anything so I think we’re ok.
After the rose garden, we made our way to the cascades, which is actually a dam, disguised as a waterfall. Then we finished our walk by the lake and headed back to the palace. Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim and there was a whole exhibition about him.
I was a little upset that I didn’t get the chance to take pictures inside the palace, but I got a bunch of pictures outside. We toured the palace for about 2 hours, then grabbed lunch. I had a delicious tuna panini with caramelized onions.
After lunch, Leslie’s family drove us back to Oxford so we could meet up with the rest of our group to tour Merton college. The tour was quick but once we were done, we started out journey to The Trout Inn.
Our journey took us on a four-mile walk, through the city, over the river, through the woods and through cow pastures before we got to our destination, about an hour and a half walk total. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, but I did and we all grabbed a well-deserved pint once we got to the restaurant.
We spent four hours at the Trout and had a communal dinner. We all ordered something different and tried a bit of each other’s food. Everything was good.
After dinner, we had the option to walk back to Oxford from the Trout (which is in another town) and I decided it was best for me to take the bus back, since I’ve managed to hurt my foot in the 3 days we’ve been here.
Overall, today was lovely. The weather was gorgeous, it hasn’t rained since Saturday, and it was perfect for walking.
Tomorrow, we’re off to The Kilns, where C.S. Lewis lived.
June 24th, 2012
Today started with a Full English breakfast, which was quite good. The stereotype of the British not drinking coffee is totally false, though. We had coffee with breakfast and it was good (not the watery, shameful excuse for coffee I had on the flight over). During breakfast, we discovered that more of our lost travelers had made it in late last night.
After breakfast, we headed off to Church. While we were waiting in the lobby to leave, we had a laugh with Leslie’s family over some of our group telling one of the girls to put pants on. Because over here, pants are underpants and “pants” to us are called trousers.
Leslie and I were expecting “high church” but what we got was very modern. I liked how they’d blended the modern with the old architecture of the building. I wish I’d gotten to take pictures but we got to the church a few minutes late. However, the service itself was a bit weird. We sang for at least 45 minutes, then took communion (which was actual wine) then sang some more and then, finally, we had the sermon. I didn’t really like the message and I didn’t quite know why the guy felt the need to mention that Paul wasn’t gender-biased. He kept emphasizing that fact and it didn’t make sense within the sermon.
We left as soon as the sermon was over because we had reservations at The Mitre Pub. The food was good and I had a pint of cider.
After lunch, we’d planned to go to Christ Church, where parts of the Harry Potter films had been shot, but it was closed for a concert. Leslie, her family, and I decided to go shopping for a bit, instead of punting. We headed off to the shops and got some neat things. I bought coasters that look like records and a dress (and now I can check the clothing mission off my list).
After shopping, we headed back over to the hotel. We waited around for a bit, because Leslie’s cousin Chloe had to go back to Uni for exams tomorrow. Once they got back, we went to a pub for dinner. But, the pub we went to wasn’t serving dinner because it’s Sunday. We finished our drinks then headed off to another pub to finish watching the football match and get some food.
As of tonight, I have officially watched a football match, cheered for England, and had proper fish and chips in a pub.
We had quite a busy day and tomorrow will be even busier. We’re planning on heading over to Blenheim Palace in the morning, then joining the group on their tour in the afternoon.
June 23rd, 2012
The trip started off quite well. Leslie and I left VA around 7am for Atlanta and things went off without a hitch. We thought we might have to be switched to a later flight because they’d overbooked the one we were on, and we had plenty of time to spare before our flight from GA to GB, but everyone was able to fit on the plane and things went as planned.
We got to Atlanta and strolled around the international terminal, looked at the shops, read a bit (Leslie knitted) and grabbed some food (and got extra food for free because we were nice and patient when they forgot I’d ordered a bagel with my coffee). While we dreaded the 9-hour layover, our strange flight pattern ended up being the best thing that could have happened to us.
We boarded our flight to London a few minutes early, watched a few movies, I didn’t really sleep on the flight, but I tried. The turbulence was kind of bad, but later we found why and things made more sense. We made it to London half an hour ahead of schedule. There were no problems with customs and we made our way to baggage claim.
Once we had our bags, the real adventure started.
Leslie and I had a bus pass for 6 of our group to get to Oxford, however, after looking at the arrival schedule, we noticed that the flight with the rest of our group was delayed by 2 hours, meaning that they would miss the bus to Oxford. We figured out how to access the Wi-Fi at the airport and decided to see if we’d gotten updated while we were in flight.
And that’s when we found out that the people we were supposed to be meeting at 10:15 weren’t getting to the UK until tomorrow! Flights had been cancelled, over booked and delayed, causing everyone we were supposed to meet to miss other flights and still be stuck in the US. We weren’t sure about the group that was supposed to have gotten on the bus at 8:10, so we decided it was best to head to the bus terminal and see if we spotted any of our group.
We trudged over there and found Bethany, who’d been having travel problems too and was very glad to see a familiar face. The three of us hopped on the bus to Oxford earlier than planned, but we’d since found out that the earlier group was coming later and had a taxi all ready for them.
The bus ride to Oxford took a little over an hour and then we hopped in a taxi to take us to our hotel. Dr. Lindvall was waiting in the drive for us.
He was glad to see us and said we were the first to arrive. We told him that we knew because everyone else had been stranded in the states due to electrical storms and bad weather. He didn’t have access to internet, so he had no clue what was going on.
We filled him in, got lunch and took a quick walk to wake up and when we got back more of our group had arrived, but we were still missing half. We finally got showers around 2pm UK time and I took a much needed nap before high tea at 4. Leslie and I waited for her cousins to show up and rode to the hotel where we had high tea with them, instead of walking with the rest of the group.
As of right now, we’re still missing half the group, a few are coming in late tonight, most are coming in tomorrow mid-day, and two won’t make it til at least Monday. There’s one more in our group, but we have no idea where he is or when he’ll make it to Oxford, but he’ll turn up eventually.
Never a dull moment when travelling abroad.
June 16th, 2012
June 16th, 2012
- Posts will be made between 6 and 8 pm EST, which means that they will be queued as it’ll be between midnight and 2 am GMT when the posts go up.
- I will update with text posts daily; photo posts will depend on the internet speed. I will try to have a “Photo of the Day” everyday.
- Posts will start Saturday 23 June
Less than a week left!