Day Thirty

London Travel Blog

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Oxford

I am beyond tired right now. I stayed up last night until 2:30 uploading my pictures from my busy day yesterday. This site is so ridiculously slow, yahoo photos and webshots were never ever ever this slow. I'm starting to get frustrated. 

I then woke up at 5:00 to wish Mom happy birthday at midnight in Maryland (Happy birthday again!) I was kind of delirious and I don't really remember much, but I do remember not being able to close the front door, I think I was that tired. I think I kind of slammed it. Oh well, I don't really care.

Then it was up again at 8:00 for our little daytrip to Oxford and Stratford Upon Avon. I have to start by saying, I didn't realize what Oxford was like.

Oxford
I was picturing it being like Harvard or some big school with a rolling, green campus. Just the school and dorms and things like that spread across a wide area. I didn't realize Oxford was, like, a town. With shops and tourists and other things. I felt like a dumb American. I should have done my research ahead of time.

Just like the last trip we had a tour guide on the bus, this time a female. And just like last time she talked and talked and talked and made it very difficult to nap/read. And unlike last time her stories were pretty boring and I really wanted her to just stop talking. I felt kind of mean about trying to block her out, but her stories really weren't interesting and I thought it was pretty clear that we didn't really care all that much. But it's her job, so I guess she had no choice.

Oxford
I just wished they booked a coach bus with no tour guide... would have made the trip a little more enjoyable.

In general, I think I enjoyed the trip to Stonehenge and Bath more than today's trip. When we went to Stonehenge we maybe spent an hour there because that's how long our audio tour was. But there was no need to stay any longer than that; I felt satisfied when I got on the bus. When we went to Oxford we also had a small amount of time--maybe an hour and 15 minutes--and I definitely didn't feel satisfied when I left. The campus was beautiful: amazing architecture, gorgeous lawns, cute shops.

Oxford
.. and I didn't get to see much of it. I probably could have made an entire day out of it, just checking out all the nooks and crannies, but I wound up just wandering around, taking random photos. I don't really I think I covered too much ground either because I was nervous about taking too many turns and not being able to find the bus.

I got two more pashminas (one navy blue, one light pink) while I was there... I'm officially addicted. There were like 5 stands with pashminas in ever color of the rainbow. It was so hard not buying every single one. I feel justified in getting them here because 1. they're actually cheaper than in the US. In Little Italy they're usually $10 but here it's two for 5 pounds, so they wind up costing only $5 each. And 2. if anybody says "ooh, I like your scarf where'd you get it" I can say "oh, I got it in England.

Oxford
" Such a classy world traveller I am. That was one of the highlights of the day for me. Kinda sad.

There was this cool little castle a bit away from the bus that my suitemate and I stumbled upon. They actually had castle and dungeon tours... I so wish we were staying longer because I totally would have toured the dungeons. But there was no time. (Sad face)

I'm trying to think what else we did and nothing else is really standing out. Went into a few gift shops, but--again--England tourist shops suck. Took photos of old buildings. Wished I had more time. I think that pretty much sums up the hour or so I spent at Oxford.

Then it was on the bus again. And tour guide yapping again. We were on our way to Stratford, birthplace of William Shakespeare. Our tour guide (being a bit informative for once.

Oxford
..I'm so mean) told us that the town was actually flooded today. They had 24 hours of straight rain yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday). It was ridic. Fields were flooded, some roads were flooded, some houses were flooded. It looked pretty miserable. In fact, when we arrived to Anne Hathaway's cottage we couldn't even use the main entrance because it was flooded.

Side note on the cottage. When my suitemate heard we were going to Anne Hathaway's cottage she thought we were going to the home of the American actress, best known for The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada. That amused for quite a while.

So, yes, we went to Shakespeare's wife's home (not to be confused with Princess Amelia/Andy's home) which was hmm what's the word I'm looking for. Ah, yes.

Oxford
Lame(ish). I say lame(ish) rather than lame because it was somewhat exciting to walk on the same floor that the great William Shakespeare once walked upon. But other than that... it was a cottage. A somewhat unmemorable cottage. Except for the fact that it had very, very short ceilings/doorways. I even had to duck going into a doorway, that's how short it was. The tour guide side the ceilings were so low not because the family members were teeny tiny a la the Hirsches, but because they needed to trap in the heat. So the higher your ceilings, the wealthier you were because you could afford sophisticated heating. The Hathaways weren't that rich apparently.

So we saw the parlor, kitchen, bedrooms, etc. They were pretty barebones... had some originial furniture, beds, but other than that it was just a series of poorly decorated rooms.

Oxford
They could have used an interior designer. But just like Tower Bridge and changing of the guards it's one of the things I can now proudly say: I went to Shakespeare's wife's cottage! Jealous??

Another tangent: apparently one of the guys in the program (one of the nicest people here in my opinion) is actually a decendent of Anne Hathaway. Mom, Dad, am I related to somebody famous? Because that would be kinda awesome. I wish I were the decedent of someone big and important. Like Jesus. Or Oprah.

Then off to downtown Stratford Upon Avon. As soon as we got on the bus--literally, the second we got on--it started pouring. Great, I thought, we're gonna have to walk around some town in the rain for a couple hours. But my good luck is back again because by the time we got off the bus it was nice and sunny again.

Oxford
The weather here is so schizophrenic. 

Stratford reminded me a bit of Bath, but I just liked Bath a little better. I thought there was more to see there and the houses were a little more beautiful. But it was still pretty in Stratford. The town, at least in my opinion, was pretty two dimensional. They're milking the whole William Shakespeare angle for all they got. Cuz that's really all they got. I took photos of a couple of the shops that pun on some of the Bard's play. They're so bad they're good.

We had more time in Stratford than in Oxford--I'd say closer to two hours. Kinda wish they were reversed... there was more to do in Oxford, at least in my eyes. There were less tourist shops in Stratford and more residential areas creeping up on the touristy areas.

Oxford
We did go to this river (at least I think it was the river... river Avon maybe) which was flooded. It was cool to see all these birds up close, like the swan in the picture. That swan was BIG. Totally didn't realize how big swans are. And not as pretty upclose either. (Another sad face)

Just like at Oxford we wandered around, pretty much going in circles. Saw William Shakespeare's birthplace (but sure as hell didn't pay the 6 pound fee to go inside). Saw his school, too. And that was pretty much all to see. Except of course for this monumental, historical eatery right in the middle of a row of beautiful houses. I bet William Shakespeare once dined in the very place! It was across from his school after all. And it was called... Pizza Hut.

Yea, one of the worst things about these small British towns.

Oxford
.. I really hate how American (and British) consumerism is slowly creeping into these historic areas. It really ruins the experience of seeing William Shakespeare's birthplace when you can see a Marks + Spencer, Pizza Express, and Subway right down the street. Something really needs to be done.

Got some fudge again, but definitely not as good as last tme. It wasn't rich or creamy and didn't taste particularly chocolate peanut buttery. Some bites even tasted stale. I was very disappointed; I've never had a bad fudge experience. I really thought its creamy goodness could do me no wrong. I'll just have to save my desires for Ocean City. Woooo, I cannot wait. You can see where my mind/heart is right now.

Again... racking my brain out trying to think of things we did in Stratford.

Oxford
Saw the swans. Got fudge. Contemplated getting pizza but decided against it. I think that pretty much sums up the afternoon.

I'm glad I went on the daytrip, even though it may seem like I'm not.

1. I wanted to get my/my parent's money's worth. Get as much out of my $900 activity fee as couple 

2. I was able to enjoy the beautiful weather outdoors

3. I got out of London, which I enjoyed 

4. I was able to see these places to be able I saw them.

I am a little bitter, though; I just wish we had more time to explore the areas. I felt the clock ticking and felt the stress of remembering where the bus was that I didn't feel comfortable really going far away and exploring the area as much as I could.

Oxford
Maybe I'll have to come back to England at some point in my life afterall. Just not to London.

On the way back to London there was (finally) some peace and quiet. Because only 12 or so of us were on the trip (even though 30 people signed up... slackers) everyone got their own set of two seats. So I was able to curl up and rest on the two seats. I was in one of those half-awake-half-asleep dazes for well over an hour. I could hear the third Matrix movie in the background (um, sounded/looked like the worse piece of crap ever). And I could hear random thoughts going through my head. So I was awake. But I was also sleep. Uncomfortably, too. When I finally sat up half of my body was completely dead. I just like limped over, I was so stiff.

Oxford
So horrible. But I surprisngly got out of it in like a minute. So it wasn't all that bad. Just wish I thought to bring my neck pillow. That would have made for a more comfortable ride.

When we arrived back home (psh, not home, back to the dorm) I went to the supermarket before heading upstairs. I've realized that when I go home I am going to go absolutely food crazy (I know, I know, it seems like I'm going food crazy here since I write about food so much, but truth is I'm dying and any half decent food experience is a dear diary moment for me). There are so many things I miss not just in terms of American food, but also in terms of Ocean City specific food. So, I'm basically going to go mad.

So, in preperation for my upcoming food fest I need to watch what I eat here.

Oxford
Theoretically, I should have lost weight while I'm here because there are a lot less choices for me and a lot less portions. However, I have not and I have a few theories about that. ...I clearly have too much time on my hands.

1. I've been eating calorically empty food that doesn't fill me up. So I've been eating more and getting less satisfaction.

2. When I go out somewhere and need a little snack the only things I like are the unhealthy options (muffn, cookie) so I'm forced into getting junk. I know that sounds wonderful, but it's not... All I really crave is actually filling food. No more sweets! I'm all sweet-ed out.

So, back to the diet. It shouldn't be too hard because our kitchen is so disgustingly filthy that I don't even want to cook here anymore.

Oxford
It's horrible. I didn't know girls could be so nasty. It's only two more weeks, I keep telling myself. So I'm essentially going to be eating just fruit, juice, and bread the next two weeks or so. Well, except for the occassional trip to Pizza Express and 3 pound pizza. I know it sounds unhealthy, but it's not like I've been eating much more since I've been here anyway. Now I'm just going to make a conscious effort to watch what I eat so I can not watch what I eat when I get home.

But now I need to stop thinking about food because it's only making me sad/depressed/angry at stupid Brits and their stupid food.

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Oxford
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Oxford
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Me in Oxford
Me in Oxford
Street Performer
Street Performer
For Jennifer!
For Jennifer!
Bubs!
Bubs!
Bike craziness
Bike craziness
Deserted Oxford
Deserted Oxford
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers again
Flowers again
Anne Hathaways cottage
Anne Hathaway's cottage
Anne Hathaways cottage
Anne Hathaway's cottage
Anne Hathaways cottage
Anne Hathaway's cottage
Anne Hathaways cottage
Anne Hathaway's cottage
Flower at Anne Hathways cottage
Flower at Anne Hathway's cottage
More flowers
More flowers
More still
More still
Cutout of the UK in Anne Hathaways…
Cutout of the UK in Anne Hathaway…
Welcome
Welcome
Shakespeares birthplace
Shakespeare's birthplace
Me at Shakespeares birthplace
Me at Shakespeare's birthplace
Me at Shakespeares birthplace
Me at Shakespeare's birthplace
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
Swan!
Swan!
Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night
Much Ado About Toys
Much Ado About Toys
Cafe As You Like It
Cafe As You Like It
Dad!
Dad!
Creeeeepy
Creeeeepy
Awww
Awww
London
photo by: ulysses