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.

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