Today I woke up at the ungodly hour of 7:15, got ready, loaded on to a bus and headed to Oxford. Excitement was everywhere. When we got there we went on a little walking tour (about an hour) with a tour guide who actually graduated from Oxford University. And just a quick note, a LOT of people ride bikes in Oxford, something our guide pointed out a LOT. Every time we were walking and someone was heading anywhere on a bike within a ten mile radius of us she would shout “BIKE BIKE” or “WATCH OUT FOR THE BIKE” or “MOVE FOR THE BIKE” or lots of other variations. Twas extremely funny. We saw many different colleges, pubs, shops, churches, etc. etc. We even saw a degree ceremony in progress.
Apparently when you enter the Uni for your first year you have some special attire you have to wear, though I don’t remember what the official name of it is. The guys wear black pants, black jacket, white collar shirt and white bow tie. The ladies wear black trousers, white button down shirts, and a white neck ribbon thing to equal the bow tie. When you enter Uni you are given these black jacket things (robes if you will). Supposedly for the first year your robe thing is a certain length, then you take your exams and if you are allowed to continue your education your robe grows a bit. After your third year you take more exams and if you are allowed to continue, you get the longer robes (like mid thigh or something). Then you go into the degree ceremony (properly dressed of course) and afterward you quickly change into the ankle length black robe with a hood outlined in white fur. Its all very prestigious-like. Everywhere we went we saw random people posing for pictures in their outfits. And after all of the ceremonies and pictures the thing to do is get completely wasted, since you are done. But I digress… After the tour we had about four hours to do what we wanted before loading back onto the bus.
I went off with some girls for lunch and we ate at The Eagle and Child, the pub where C.S. Lewis and Tolkien would frequently sit and discuss things. Like books. And Narnia. And that darn ring that almost ruined everyone’s lives. They called themselves “The Inklings.” I mean how adorable awesome is that? There was a handwritten letter on the wall in the “Rabbit Room” (no lie) which is where they would usually sit, by the lovely fireplace. In this letter they toasted the owners health, which is still strongly welcomed by all who come in and eat/drink. It was and absolutely lovely lunch; I had the steak and ale pie. Delicious.
Then we went to the Bodleian Library, which you can’t enter unless 1. you are a student of Oxford University or 2. You buy a tour ticket. We didn’t want to tour so we walked around the areas we were allowed to, then hit up the gift shop where I purchased the most wonderful bag. In case you don’t know what the Bodleian Library is, or anything about it, I am turning to my faithful friend Wikipedia to inform you. Because it is quite interesting.
The Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in England is second in size only to the British Library. Known to Oxford scholars as “Bodley” or simply “the Bod”. Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 it is one of six legal deposit libraries for works published in the United Kingdom and under Irish Law it is entitled to request a copy of each book published in the Republic of Ireland.The Bodleian Group now cares for some 8 million items on 117 miles of shelving, and a staff of over 400.
So yea, its a pretty big deal. Bits of Harry Potter were filmed there. Then we went to this tower thing where you could get an amazing view of the city. We paid our three pounds and climbed up steps, more steps, and more steps to get to what we thought was the top tower, but alas. It turned out to be more steps. But these were no ordinary stairs. It was a windy staircase, with the narrowest, steepest steps ever. Narrow enough that no one could go up and come down at the same time. There was absolutely no way that would ever happen. Once we got to the top of the tower it was amazing. The city is so beautiful!! I want to move there.
When we were finished we made the trecherous journey back down the stairs. We then headed over to Christ Church which is where I was most interested in going. The main dining hall is what they use when they film the dining hall scenes in Harry Potter. And can I just say movie magic does exist!! The hall looked so different than the one we see in the move, and I’m not talking about the fact that there were no floating candles or anything like that. There were huge pictures all along the walls of famous scholars who atteneded Oxford University and ate there. Once we were done there we made our way back to the bus, stopping at an Alice in Wonderland shop and the cutest second hand book store. Man, I just love second hand/ used book stores. I love the way they smell, I love how they are set up, I love it all. Want to make my day? Take me to one and let me spend hours and hours and hours in there. I will be eternally greatful. I managed to pick up a 1963 edition of Winnie the Pooh and a 1964 edition of The House at Pooh Corner all for the low price of 4 pounds. Can’t beat that.
Overall it was an extremely fun day. (I plan to put lots of pictures up in the Europe Photos section when I get a chance!!) I got to see some amazing things. But as wonderful as those were, nothing could impress me as much as (read: make me laugh as much as) the little protest going on outside the building holding the degree ceremony. Apparantly Oxford University, and Oxford in general, is rather cruel to animals and these people would like them to stop. There was no chanting, no shouting, just nice people holding banners and handing out fliers. As I walked passed them I overheard one lady tell the other “I’m just not a very social person.” Glad she picked the right hobby.
Poor Felix. A victim of Oxford University. Please don’t get me wrong. I am all for no animal abuse. But these signs TOTALLY made my day.