jump to navigation

Mind the Gap August 8, 2011

Posted by rachaelcopeland in Travel Log.

This weekend was my last weekend in Oxford. It is a bittersweet feeling knowing that in six days, I will be stateside once more. Do not get me wrong, I miss home, and I am thrilled to see my family and friends once more. But there is an emptiness knowing that I won’t be able to wake up each morning to the beautiful Worcester College or spend my weekends gallivanting across the United Kingdom. To be perfectly honest the only reason I am coming back is for football season. I wouldn’t miss cheering on my Jackets for anything.

I spent the weekend in London. It is interesting that this was my last weekend trip because most students here on the Oxford program had already been to London, some much more than once. It is lovely to live only an hour (by train) outside of one of the biggest cities in the world. Being only an hour away, I did not have to spend extra money on getting a hostel. Instead, I commuted into the city each day. The money I saved on lodging I was able to use on exhibits in the city.

Our first stop was the Churchill War Rooms. It was an unexpected stop, and we decided to visit it on a whim. It turned out to be one of the coolest museums around! They have preserved many of the artifacts from how the bunkers were laid out during World War II when Churchill himself would escape to the rooms during a bombing in the Battle of Britain. The museum was informative, fun, and not at all overwhelming. I am really glad I got the chance to go.

Next on our itinerary was Westminster Abbey. After nine weeks, twenty-five different cities, ten different countries, and innumerable historical sites, Westminster Abbey has to be one of my top five. With over three thousand tombs, twenty-nine monarchs, and countless authors, poets, scientists, religious figures, etc., I was amazed with the amount of history present in the nearly one thousand year old abbey. If you are ever in London, it would be a crime not to go.

Westminster Abbey on an uncharacteristically clear British day.

Without a question, we had to visit Harrods. It is a huge department store with five floors of everything material you could possibly want in live. Needless to say, the possibility of actually affording any of it was very slim, but it was exciting nonetheless. They have a food market, designer shoes and clothes, kid’s toys, Christmas decorations, huge useless teddy bears, furniture, musical instruments, and so much more. I had always heard of Harrods, but seeing it really was a neat experience.

The next day, we were fortunate enough to get tickets into Buckingham Palace. It is truly a privilege to be able to visit the state rooms. Her Majesty the Queen is only away from the Palace a certain number of weeks per year, and it happened to open the weekend before we went. Even so, tickets were hard to come by. We arrived at the Palace long before it opened and were able to get our tickets. It was also one of the most astounding experiences I have had. It is magnificent beyond all expectations. I won’t give away too much of the details in case you want to go. Or should I say when you go, because it is a sight not to be missed. One of my favorite parts of the visit though, was the presentation of Duchess Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress. It was gorgeously intricate and far more beautiful than a picture can capture. I already felt like a princess walking up the Grand Staircase in the Palace, but seeing the dress ensured my desire to become a part of the royal family.

Buckingham Palace. There are usually thousands more people out front.

We made our way over to the Tower of London. One thing that you will discover about London is that it is a very large city. A map may be very misleading as to the actual distances between locations. I bought a three-day underground (or Tube, as it were) pass through BritRail to help cut down walking time. It was a great decision, and I definitely recommend it. At the Tower of London, you are given a tour by a Yeoman Warder (colloquially, they are referred to as Beefeaters, but they prefer the more formal title). We had a wonderful and informative tour from a humorous tour guide. I could not fathom how much history was in this one location. Centuries of stories, some gory and merciless, some hopeful and sweet, but all were exciting. Right after the tour, we rushed over to see the Crown Jewels as the Tower was closing in an hour. We had just enough time to see the Crown Jewels without being rushed. They were astounding. I absolutely fell in love with them. This may or may not have to do with my obsession of jewelry and shiny objects, but either way I was in awe. Contrary to my thought of there being only one crown, a scepter, and an orb, there were nearly ten crowns, multiple scepters, and various other objects used in coronation ceremonies since the time of Oliver Cromwell. They were beautiful and a must-see sight in London.

Our Yeoman Warder tour guide.

Dinner was in Chinatown! I had read somewhere that London’s Chinatown is the oldest in the world, so we had to check it out. The food was by no means spectacular, but the experience was very fun. To close out our day, we stopped by Platform 9 ¾ (the train departure point from the Harry Potter series, it that needs explaining at all). King’s Cross Station has built a small feature in the station with a cart passing halfway through the wall where nerdy fans like me can pose for a photograph. It was a great was to end out brilliant stay in the great city of London!

Colleen making her way into Platform 9 3/4 to catch the Hogwarts Express!



1. Joseph Mattingly - August 8, 2011

Such a winning title.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: