Oh, you know…Just London & Oxford and Stuff

23 Jan

Has it been awhile since I’ve posted? I would say no, except that so much has happened it feels like too much to write about again. Oh well, suffice to say I’ve been to Stanmer House,FalmerVillage,London and Oxford. That’s all you need to know…

Ok, I’m too excited to leave it at that, so elaboration is inevitable. A couple Wednesdays ago, I went with a group of other students to walk around the outskirts of the University. We ended up going into StanmerVillage, which is not so much a village as it is one house, one church and some farmland. However the fantastic thing about it is that Stanmer House is a beautifully preserved mansion that also acts as a café and restaurant! You can walk around the house and look at the preserved furniture and library, and then you can sit down in the dining hall, or by any of the couches, chairs and coffee tables throughout the house, and order as you lounge near a 17th Century (I think?) fireplace. And indeed, we ordered while lounging by the fireplace.

The next day we went into Falmer village. This seemed a bit more befitting of the name “village” since it consisted of more than two buildings. None of the buildings were quite as delightful as Stanmer House, but there were certain spots that had an uncanny ability to transport you back to the 17th Century (I’m PRETTY sure I’ve got the century right. No one really said.)

Then cameLONDON! I went on a couch with the University’s International program and so I was fortunate to see the majority of the city from the coach. Of course, I was flabbergasted, it was absolutely incredible and already I’m trying to figure out when I can go again. After the coach tour, we were dropped off nearPiccadilly Circus and given about four and a half hours on our own to roam the city. So, some friends and I; being well aware that we couldn’t see the whole city in that time decided to narrow our journey to a couple of spots. We decided to spend a bit of time inPiccadilly Circus before moving on to Westminster Abbey and then capping the day off at the Tate-Modern. Well, a bit of time inPiccadilly Circus translated to about and hour and a half of waiting on me to take pictures of every little thing I saw.  Fortunately for my companions and unfortunately for me, that’s when my camera ran out of batteries. So we finally began to make progress, heading towardsWestminster. Then we saw Hamley’s… Hamley’s isEurope’s largest toy store, and there we spent the ENTIRE rest of our day!

Hamley’s was whimsical and wonderful to say the least. When you walk in the door there are official bubble blowers that just stand around blowing bubbles at you. Easily one of the best career choices one can make…I even thought briefly about switching majors. Also, scattered around the store were professional toy demonstrators that would show you how to use a variety of nifty and uncommon toys. This was the kind of stuff that will give you about a day of sheer unadulterated joy before ending up in your garage for the rest of your life. Seeing as I am still a child, I obviously loved every bit of it!  There was also a stuffed animal petting zoo which pretty much gave me a cuteness overload. Finally, there was the Harry Potter section! Since all of us were Harry Potter fanatics, I believe this is where we spent the single longest period of time on our first trip toLondon. There was a huge case that included replica wands of almost every character in the movie. There were also Time Turners, Marauders Maps, Chudley Cannon’s posters, House emblems and Wizard’s Chess sets!

My one complaint was that there weren’t more action figures…and that the whole place wasn’t twice as big. But all in all, despite not actually visiting any of the most significant historical sights, not going to any of the free museums and running out of camera batteries in the first hour, I’d say my first trip to London was a spectacular success!

During the course of the next week, I was for the most part limited by homework, but it did not go without its significant conversations or cultural observations… But I’ll save that for another post, since I am on a roll with the tourism theme today.

Speaking of today, I just arrived home fromOxford! Just yesterday I was wondering ifLondonwas the coolest city in the world and today I’m wondering ifOxfordis the coolest city in the world. I suppose it will only be a matter of time before both of those opinions change, but regardless, they are both amazing!

Fortunately I was able to see much more on this trip includingChristChurch, St. Mary’s, Edmond Halley’s old house, Radcliffe Camera, some of the spots where Harry Potter was filmed and most of the colleges. I was absolutely blown away by the buildings, and the beauty of the city. And although I hate the idea of being star-struck, I was still simply taken aback by the sheer amount of literary and scientific genius that inhabited the school at one point or another. Of course, the greatest among them being Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. As a Lord of the Rings fanatic who appreciates Narnia and loves C.S. Lewis’ theology and apologetics perhaps my main goal for the evening was to make it to “The Eagle and the Child”. This is the pub where Tolkien, Lewis and several friends met on a weekly basis to discuss their writings and theology. However, since it wasn’t so high on everyone else’s priority list we didn’t make it there.

Anyways, it’s been a great past week and a half and it has revealed to me a very significant truth about myself; I’m the most obvious tourist alive.

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