So, because certain individuals more or less threatened to disown me unless I visited Oxford, last weekend I decided to do just that! A friend of mine has spent the year there– more specifically, at Pembroke College (the Oxford system is a system comprised of a host of smaller colleges all of which are within Oxford), and he very graciously offered to be my tour guide/host for the entirety of the weekend.
I’ve long been of the opinion that Britain– which, I should be perfectly clear, I absolutely adore– is something of a silly country. What else can you say about a place that names subway stations things like Cockfosters and Tooting Broadway? In any event– in terms of overall silliness, what the U.S. is to Britain, Britain is to Oxford. Oxford is a place where the people play croquet, go punting, treat rowing like a religion, and generally behave ridiculously. None of this is to diminish any of the preceding concepts or past times, but the sum of all of the parts adds up to a uniquely…well, Oxford concoction.
Like I said, I had an absolutely amazing time in Oxford. It’s a tremendously different place from the hustle and bustle of London, and it was a great chance just to get a relaxing change of scenery– not to mention to hang out with an old Georgetown friend.
It’s worth noting that one of the most memorable things that happened on this trip– going punting, which is basically pushing a small boat, Venice-gondola style, down a river– does not have any photographic evidence, because the boats have, from time to time, been known to tip. This concern turned out to be inaccurate, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that, while my friend Chris is an awesome awesome dude, he is an absolutely horrific punter. Five of us took a boat out, and five of us returned, so no harm no foul I suppose, but highlights include: watching Chris nearly fall off the boat when getting hit by a tree branch because he steered too close to shore, watching Chris steer the boat literally by bouncing it off of opposing banks of the river, watching Chris wedge the boat between river banks like he was executing an esoteric Spartan blockading maneuver from the Peloponnesian War, and generally watching Chris be bad at punting. I’m sorry Chris, but you know this is true.
I spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time in Oxford going, “People go to school here? Really? Really?” Case in point:
Apparently they like to paint the walls of their dormitories whenever they win big rowing regattas:
Trinity College is especially gorgeous:
One particularly endearing feature of Oxford was its love affair with cycling. Everyone rides their bikes everywhere! And not in a pretentious, “buy fancy bikes and bike leggings and bike gear” way, but in a “we’re academics and we need to get to the library and read us some books already and bikes are a fast way to ge there” way. Anyone who knows me and my DC life will understand why I find this appealing.
At the bookstore in question– which, I should make clear, is not just any bookstore, but rather Blackwell’s, which is just amazing– me and my friend got to chill for a bit, and I got to meet up with an old friend:
We climbed up to the top of the local church tower, which offered some tremendous views of the surrounding area:
The trip concluded with a visit to see Chris manage to row his way down the Thames (with no collisions this time!), like the boss he is:
And now, in what is rapidly becoming a fixture in my posts about travel, a photo of me and a friend taken on one of the tallest buildings in the area. Special thanks are in order to Chris for being such a great host throughout my stay. Take care, Oxford! Even if you did give me food poisoning after I had dinner on Saturday night (Hey Britain, just fyi? The next time I ask what an item on the menu is and you say “meatballs,” be sure to specify if said meatballs are actually made of pig liver. Thanks!), and even if you are full of croquet-playing nutters, you’re pretty damn cool.