Goth Panda

Day 2: Oxford 2008

I traveled to the U.K. in June 2008 on a combination work/vacation trip. I posted about it on my old group blog Population Five. Now that I am writing more about traveling at Goth Panda, I am reposting these here for thematic unity, and also because reading them reminds me of the trip. I want to go back! Anyway, that explains some of the dated references.

Today I actually had to do work. We ordered in room service for breakfast (scrambled eggs, croissants, toast, oj and a pot of Earl Grey), and Mike and I walked down to the professor’s office for a meeting. I didn’t mention this yesterday, but I got lost trying to get back to the Business School to inspect the conference room. While trying to get to the meeting this morning, I got lost again. Usually I am pretty good at finding my way around, but Oxford is defeating me. The names of the streets change every time there is a cross-street, my map was incorrect, and there are all of these little alleys and backways that defy comprehension. Fortunately, I left early enough that I got to the meeting on time, despite getting lost.

I worked until a little after 4 p.m., but the cool part was I got taken to lunch in Oriel College by the lady who is helping to organize the conference. Oriel is closed to visitors, so I got an “exclusive.” I also got to eat in the students’ dining hall, which was stone-floored and stained-glass-windowed, and looked a lot like a smaller version of the Hogwarts dining room. There was a long horizontal table at the front (where we sat, as staff), and two rows of wooden, picnic-like tables arranged vertically in front of us, where the students sat. Afterwards, we went and visited the chapel, with even more stained glass and velvet curtains. Did I have my camera for this exclusive adventure? Of course I did not.

After working, I went back to the hotel and met up with Mike (who had wandered about the town and parks while I was working). We decided to go back to the pub that had stopped serving last night and try again. This was the Kings Arms on Parks Road, and it was a good choice. I had a baked potato with cheese, and Mike had lentil and carrot soup with chips. We ordered cider from the bartender. He asked us if we were American or Canadian, and we owned up. After that, it was .3 seconds before the topic of American politics was introduced. Were we happy that Barack Obama had won? Yes, yes, we were delighted. Fortunately, this was the right answer. [It was only by a miracle that we knew it had happened. I caught sight of a television playing the news in a restaurant we considered the night before, which had a photo of him, with the banner “Obama Celebrates Nomination.”]

Mike got in a ten-minute conversation about the state of politics in the U.S. with the bartender, while I ate my potato and no small portion of his chips. We also got fairly buzzed on the “potent” cider the bartender recommended to us. After that, we wandered the streets of Oxford and took photos.

Just a warning that these captions may not be correct. As I said, Oxford has been defeating my navigation skills, even though I bought a better map.

St. Giles Street.jpg
St. Giles Street. This is around the corner from our hotel. I think from left to right, it is St. John’s College, Balliol College, and the Martyr’s Memorial.

Bridge of Sighs
I will admit that I was under the impression that the Bridge of Sighs spanned a river. Don’t make the same mistake, internet.

New College
New College. The girl on the right is wearing the traditional students’ robes. The colleges are still in session, and many students (to judge from overhearing their conversations) are taking exams.

No Access

Queen's Lane
Queen’s Lane

St. Edmund
I’m really not sure of this one, but it is possibly St. Edmund’s?

Punts
Punts from the Magdalen Bridge

Tom Quad
Tom Quad, which is the quad of Christ Church College

Christ Church College
Christ Church College

Christ Church College Garden
Garden at Christ Church College

Fountain
Fountain at Christ Church College Garden

Smoking
Can you spot the student smoking?

Merton College
Merton College

Postmasters Hall
Postmaster’s Hall

St. Mary the Virgin
St. Mary the Virgin Cathedral, with roses and bicycles

Radcliffe Camera
Radcliffe Camera

Then we stopped at Queen’s Coffeehouse for some desserts and tea, and made our way back to the hotel. While we were out, the maids had turned down our bed, left chocolates on our pillow, bottled water by our pillows, and classical music playing on the radio.

Bedroom

Yes, traveling does get awfully nice after the sleep deprivation abates.

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