I went back to Oxford to show my parents around town and visit the Mini factory. I finally got to go to some of the places that I hadn’t been to yet too. We started off at ChristChurch College, climbed up to the cupola at the Sheldonian, and visited New College. After we went to the Mini Factory for a tour of their production facilities and had dinner at Eagle and Child.
Due to all the graduations and ceremonies going on during the weekends I never had the chance to visit the Sheldonian Theater. It was smaller inside than what I pictured but the view from the cupola was fantastic. It was pretty much a 360 degree view of spires topping all of the campus buildings.
After visiting some of the campus buildings, we took the bus down to the Oxford industrial park to the BMW Mini Factory. They had a showroom of various artistic takes on the car and the best one was this “Pet Mini” covered in cow fur. There was even an Olympics car and the car from Austin Powers. The factory was pretty neat and it was completely automated. There were robotic arms everywhere so it kind of looked like the rise of the machines or something.
One of the places I had always wanted to go to but never did was this pub that was the favorite hang out of famous authors such as JR Tolkein and CS Lewis. The inside was pretty narrow and dark but full of history. All of the furniture looked like it was from a hundred years ago and the books and pictures lining the walls were antiques. It was probably the first pub I had been to that seemed like what I envisioned a pub to look like. The cider and veggie burger were delicious as well!
We continued our journey around London starting at Westminster Abbey then took a ferry to the lovely maritime town of Greenwich. From there, we took the rail to the Beatles store on Baker Street and continued on to the West End to see the Book of Mormon!
Westminster Abbey was probably the largest church I’ve ever seen and by far the most historic. It took me a little while to realize that the abbey is basically a giant crypt for England’s most illustrious people. There are effigies of deceased nobility everywhere and hundreds of stones on the ground that note the people buried underneath them. It was really weird to think that we were just walking over the graves of some of the greatest people in British history including Darwin. I’m not a huge fan of creepy things so I admittedly went through as fast as I could.
After leaving the Abbey we took a ferry from Westminster Pier that stopped off at the Tower of London and Greenwich. Since we had already been to the Tower of London, we decided to take the boat all the way to the home of the Prime Meridian. Along the way, the captain made jokes and pointed out places of interest along the side of the river such as Ian McKellen’s house, some super expensive hotels, and a pub called the Mayflower which was actually the place from where the pilgrims set off to come to America. After landing in Greenwich, we were greeted by the Cutty Sark which was an old tea ship that used to sail around the world.
The Old Royal Naval Academy in Greenwich has a beautiful painted hall and is free to enter. There are mirrors located along the center of the room that allow you to look up without straining your neck. There’s also papers with descriptions of who everyone is on the ceiling and on the far wall. I think the hall and the neighboring chapel are actually part of the University of Greenwich. After, we went to the covered market, got some really good teri salmon, and picnicked on the school grounds.
We then took the tube up to Baker Street where there’s a Beatles shop as well as the Sherlock Holmes Museum. There was a super long line of middle schoolers in colorful jackets leading up to the museum so we didn’t have the chance go to in. After, we went to the West End which is the theater district to see The Book of Mormon. I think this was honestly the best and most ridiculous musical I’ve ever seen and it’s totally worth seeing. The theater was packed on a Wednesday evening and for good reason.
On Tuesday we had the opportunity to go visit our intern counterparts at Cambridge and we got the chance to learn more about what they’re working on. We also had a lovely tour from one of the staff there who was very well informed about Cambridge.
We started off by going through a bunch of the colleges. I honestly don’t remember the names of them but they all had these beautiful lawns that I really wanted to run across. There were keep off the grass signs everywhere (I think more so than Oxford) to preserve the beautiful checkerboard of grass that was the centerpiece of every quad.
This was undoubtably the most beautiful building we visited on our tour. The King’s College Chapel was seriously impressive and beautiful! Luckily we got free entrance into all the colleges courtesy of the Cambridge sustainability staff. We visited a few other colleges as well but this was by far my favorite. It really inspired me to attempt to go college hopping at Oxford (I’ve only been to the ones that were Harry Potter sets) but alas they’re almost always closed or holding some sort of wedding when I’m not at work.
In the back of the colleges is the famous River Cam where everyone goes punting down. Apparently students try to climb over the bridges and jump back down on their punt while they go down the river. There were a bunch of students ferrying around tourists and a bunch of people punting their own boats and trying not to fall in. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go punting at Cambridge but I still want to try it out before I leave Oxford!