Sunday, 6 November 2016

Oxford // Day Two

Day Two began early enough, some time past 9am, as we had to head to the dining hall to eat our breakfast. The staff there were very nice, and there were all kinds of different options you could choose from, presented in a buffet style. There was a decent variety of alternatives too, as in gluten-free bread with its own coeliac-friendly toaster and almond and soy milks. I had some fruit, a pastry and some cereal, as well as plenty of juice. It was decent, the best part being the fresh pineapple.
Our plan for the day was to see a few more colleges and visit the Ashmolean museum, the photos of which you can see above. We spent a good two hours there, following the "10 Suggested Things to See" that were written on the map, taking in other things we found interesting along the way. It was a very good museum, and had an enormous variety of items from many different time periods. This included paintings.

The outside of the Randolf Hotel and the Bridge of Sighs.

A lot of colleges were not open to visitors at various points over the weekend, but one that was open, that we very candidly decided to visit, was New College. It's one of the older colleges within Oxford University, and I must say, I liked it an awful lot. They filmed some parts of Harry Potter there, which adds to the allure, but it was just so beautiful, and again had that wonderful calmness about it that many of those we visited did, despite the fact that it was alive with tourists like ourselves. We visited Magdalen College too. It was absolutely huge, seeming to encompass a large part of the city. I found it pleasant, but was surprised in that I didn't like it as much as I expected to. We stayed there for lunch, which was nice. I shared a pot of tea with my mum, and had a toasted sandwich. We sat outside and got a good luck at those punting along the river.

After that, we were quite tired, so we decided to think about doing a small bit of shopping. I really wanted to get a hoodie or jumper that said "Oxford University" on it, and so got a really nice one at their most official location. I've worn it at least once a week since! We shopped around a little bit more, each of our party of four getting a souvenir or two. Then it was back to our accommodation to take a big long rest, and get ready for the evening.

The day was punctuated with our experience at Brown's. It's a huge restaurant, and all of us were delighted with the food we received. It was all delectable, and myself and Lucia were stuffed until about 2am, when we began to feel human again! Unfortunately, it was understaffed, and we could plainly see that our server was under a great deal of pressure. I got a beetroot and goat's cheese tatin followed by salted caramel profiteroles. Delectable!

Our second day was a success. Each of us had an absolutely perfect, wonderful day!

Anna x

Food photos taken with iPhone 5s

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Oxford // Day One

 After visiting Cambridge earlier this year, a curiosity arose in me to compare it with Oxford, it being the city containing the "rival" university. Well, in a fantastic twist of fate, my parents, friend, Lucia and I ditched school for a day and spent the final weekend of September in Oxford. We had to wake up early-ish to catch our late morning flight to Birmingham. The sun was only beginning to light up the roads when my friend rang on my doorbell. I wasn't quite yet ready, and my dog found that it was too early in the day to be amiable, but without too much of a struggle, we hopped on the plane. And then onto a train, each part of the journey lasting no more than an hour.
 My Dad knew the streets well, and my Mum had a pretty good idea of things also, but for myself and Lucia, it was a whole new experience. The pair of us were amazed by the immediate allure and beauty of the city, which became apparent to us only minutes after stepping off the train. Our first stop was grabbing a pizza at a place called Buongiorno e Buonasera. Everyone got a buffalo mozzarella pizza, bar me. I had a vegan pizza that was topped with onions, courgette potato and pepper. (Amazingly I managed to stay completely plant-based for the whole day!) It certainly satisfied my travel induced hunger! Next, we went to find our accommodation. We were staying in a college, Lady Margaret Hall, in the rooms that students occupy during term-time. LMH isn't one of the more convenient-to-places colleges, but having said that, it's not far away either. Regardless, the walk there was stimulating. So many buildings from so many decades and centuries, in so many different architectural styles lined our path. I could hardly wait to see them all.

 Lucia and I shared a room. It was fun, really, to pretend that we were ourselves college students there! The shower was the tiniest little one I've ever used, the bathroom a mere pod. There was a huge closet, one desk and two beds. Our room overlooked some of the other buildings, including the Dining Hall where we ate breakfast each morning. They left towels for us, tea, a kettle, biscuits and a wash bag that had "Lady Margaret Hall" printed upon it. We relaxed there for about an hour, before heading out to do some sight seeing and eat dinner.

We first visited the Bodelian Library, which I had heard of many times over. And really, it was breathtaking! It was a fortress-like building which was built purely to house books. How could I not love it? Then as we were leaving, we noticed a film crew just outside. They were filming something involving a skidding car, so that was pretty cool! We later discovered that they were filming a transformers movie, which was admittedly less cool, but still amazing to have seen.

So after seeing the film crew at work, the roads were finally clear enough for us to visit Hertford College. It was really very pretty, and peaceful. It just looked so unbelievably posh in the best way possible. I was very glad to have seen it.

Above is Lincoln College, also an enjoyable one to visit! It was also our first glance at an Oxford University dining hall.

We had a look around the Covered Market, which reminded me a lot of The English Market in Cork. I suppose that makes sense...

Then came one of my favourite colleges; Trinity College. The chapel was just phenomenal. We must have stayed in there for ten minutes, just taking in each detail. The carvings were so wonderfully intricate and the ceiling was just out of this world.

That was the bulk of our sight-seeing done. We had booked a table at Al-Shami Lebanese Restaurant for around half past seven, but still had time to spare before then. So naturally we headed off to a pub. Not just any pub, but The Eagle and Child, a well-known place in which the "Inklings" used to gather. This group of writers included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Pretty cool, right?

I took no photos at the restaurant, but rest-assured, it was tasty. We were presented with a huge platter of raw and pickled vegetables to begin with, and then each got our chosen dishes. It was very tasty, and very satisfying, although completely different to any of the Middle Eastern food I'd ever had beforehand. There wasn't a falafel in sight!

On the walk back, in what was then the dark, I just felt so happy. I was there, on holidays, in a new city that I'd already fallen in love with, with a very close friend of mine. And what's more is that it didn't feel alien, nor strange to be in that new place. Oxford felt known to me somehow. Its streets, whilst beautiful and intriguing, did not intimidate me, nor confuse me. Sure, I couldn't have shown you the way around, or known what there was to be found, but I felt so unbelievably at ease. Besides, I love walking around at night. It's the perfect time to feel very, very alive.

Anna x

Have you visited a new place lately?

The first two photos were taken with the iPhone 5s, the rest with the Nikon D3200 as usual.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Dublin // North of the Liffey

As I discussed previously in "The Quays", Dublin is divided into North and South by the River Liffey. Each side has its own distinct character. Today I'm going to (in a couple of senses) walk you through the North Side.

Above is O'Connell Street, once known as Sackville Street. It's a very wide street, lined with all kinds of businesses. It's also embelished with many monuments, such as the spire (the big needle thing) and the rather elaborate O'Connell Statue. There are some beautiful buildings here too, but you need to look up at them, and ignore the often ugly modern shopfronts.

Capel Street

O'Connell Street leads to Henry Street, which is one of two main shopping streets in Dublin. Pictured above is one of the North Side's shopping centres, called the Jervis Shopping Centre. Dublin has many of the same shops as other European countries, and Britain also. For example, Forever 21, Topshop and Marks & Spencer.

Please check out the rest of this series for more information on Dublin!

part 1 - temple bar // part 2 - the south side // part 3 - the quays // part 4 - the sweet stuff

Updated 30/06/2017
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