Monday, September 17

Exquisite Architecture

Over the past weekend, I made a visit west- to Bath and Stonehenge. It was fantastic. For those of you who don't know, Bath is where the Roman Baths still stand, in all their glory, still naturally supplied with warm water from deep within the earth. It's pretty cool- and if it's not on your bucket list- it should be. My favorite parts were the Beau Street Hoarde, which is the largest amount of ancient Roman coins ever to be found, and a small display of engraved gems (impossible to photograph, unfortunately) that were found in one of the catch drains- assumed to either have fallen off of signet rings worn by various people or been thrown in as an offering to the goddess of the spring. Even though I'm not a history buff, in fact, I'm quite the opposite and avoid history whenever possible, it was pretty cool learning about the history of the Roman Baths, and actually being there and seeing it for myself, getting to feel the water and touch the stones (which may or may not have been prohibited).

 After seeing the Roman Baths, the group split- some went to the Fashion Museum, others went to the Jane Austen Exhibit, four went rambling around the city, and one- well, we don't really know where she went. We lost her for a few hours. I was in the group that went rambling. I'd much rather explore a city for myself than spend another three hours in a museum, staring at things behind alarm-equipped glass cases. So, rambling I went- through various gardens and parks, up and down streets, and we soon realized that all of Bath is like a giant bowl, the city center being the lowest point, and going out from there is entirely uphill. Seven miles later, we made it to the edge of the bowl, and although the walk was exhausting, it was so worth it.

We all met up in city center, except for one because nobody knew where she was. After about forty-five minutes of contemplating who would stay behind to find her instead of going to Stonehenge, she walks around the corner, as if she had never been apart from the group. Needless to say, we were all relieved to have found her. And, Stonehenge was fantastic (if you haven't noticed at this point, everything was fantastic).

As for what's to come- I'm leaving out on Wednesday to Ireland, going to spend the night in Dublin, then head out on a 2 day tour to see the Blarney Stone and Cliffs of Moher. Then it's back to Dublin for another night and a day and back home. Then the following, I'll be seeing Wicked in London- which I'm extremely excited about. But till then it's schoolwork and studying.

Thursday, September 6

Week of Wonders

So, it's been a full week since I started my journey here in Oxford, and I've seen and experienced so much, my mind is still reeling. I could try to name all the things I've done, but I think I'd fail miserably, not to mention I'd end up writing a book. So, my top three things of the past week:
1. St. Giles' Fair
2. Primark
3. Christ Church Meadows

 St. Giles' Fair is a fair that comes once a year, that dates back to Medieval times. Basically, a bunch of rides and food carts are set up on the main street through Oxford, the same street we use to get basically everywhere. So, as you head to class you're weaving between Carnie-Folk and children covered in candy floss (notice my slick use of British lingo). It's strange, now that the carnival is gone. The streets are much quieter, and you actually have to look out for cars when crossing the street. The bus stops are now back in use, and the theme music that I felt played just for me as I walked down the street, is gone. But, while it was here, I did ride a couple rides, try the doughnuts, (which were not like our typical doughnut, it's hard to explain), and get to see a lot of new things. For example, our thing in Texas is fried. Fried anything. Fried butter, fried twinkies, fried Dr. Pepper, fried Reese's, giant fried turkey legs. The thing here is chips (aka, fries), with different things on them. Chips with curry, chips with cheese, chips, chips, and more chips. I think it's cool to compare the differences between our giant Texas state fair with this one.

Primark. How do I even begin to explain this heavenly place? At home, I always longingly stare into Forever21, wishing that they carried my size so I could finally wear cute clothes without over-paying for them. Well, Primark is the answer to that prayer. I got the softest and most comfortable jeans I've ever worn in my life, that came in long, which is something I can never find in the states, and they were only about $7. Not to mention they have shorts, tops, coats, leggings, jewelry, luggage, basically anything you can imagine, for just as low a price! I've not gone crazy, but I have bought a couple things that I didn't realize I'd have the need for, like a coin purse, shorts (it's been warmer than we expected), and of course, the magical pair of soft jeans.

Christ Church Meadows. For those of you that don't follow my pictures on facebook, I'll show you just a few pictures that try to explain the beauty of it, although I don't think a photograph can do it justice. Because it's not just the greenery, or the Thames, or even the cute ducks along the bank. It's the air, it's the serene sounds, I just love the environment there.

I may or may not have gone overboard on the pictures, I just really love this place. In addition to my three favorites of the week, we also went as a group to Doorchester Abbey, which had some of the most beautiful roses I've ever seen, not to mention the amazing history behind the Abbey itself. I've spent quite a bit of time at Oxford University Park, which included feeding the ducks, which is a lot of fun. On Wednesday, so yesterday, we went to the market and I got produce and fresh cheese for dinners- I made myself some really great Mexican Mac n' Cheese today, and have all the stuff ready to make eggplant Parmesan in the next couple days. Mostly I've just been orienting myself to the surroundings, getting used to life here, which is surprisingly not much different than home. Other than the fact that I have to walk everywhere, living here isn't much different than living in a dorm in Abilene. Of course, there are cultural differences, but nothing that requires huge adjustments.

After writing all this, it's donned on me that I've not given anyone a way to get in touch with me other than Facebook or my blog. Because I'm here in Oxford and don't want to fork out the excessive amount of money it costs for an international plan, my phone has been shut off, and there are no free texting apps that work internationally. So, you can contact me via Skype (username- heroinediary), or you can mail me a letter, which I know sounds archaic, but getting letters seriously would make my day. My address here in Oxford is:
#9 Canterbury Road
Oxford OX2 6LU

Well, that's all for now. This weekend is the weekend where all the Oxford libraries and colleges and universities are open to the public without paying fees, so I'm going to explore my city this weekend. Next weekend I'm heading west to Bath for a day to see the Jane Austen museum and the Roman Bath Spa, and then the weekend after that is a long travel break, so I'll be going to Dublin and the Moher hills- looking forward to exploring the beautiful world God created!