Friday, October 26, 2007

The English Countryside

Today, we did something unusual during our time abroad in London -- we toured England. We've been so busy traveling all throughout Europe trying to see as many countries and cultures as we can, that as of yet we haven't spent any time exploring much of England (or London for that matter). So, today we headed off into the charming English countryside.

First stop was Oxford, or what we at Cambridge refer to as "that other place." Not that I study at Cambridge anymore mind you since I made the decision to drop my class, but there's no sense setting aside a perfectly good rivalry. Here, we saw Christ Church, which I'm told is where the Harry Potter dining scenes were filmed. After visiting Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard's dining hall, I'm starting to think I should watch the movies and see the reason every tourist is shunning the rest of the buildings and history on these campuses to see "the Harry Potter place."

One of the things that really adds to the wonder of Oxford (besides being the oldest English-speaking university in the world) is that it was never bombed during WWII. Adolf Hitler decided that he was going to make Oxford the Nazi capital of Great Britain - an interesting choice given his penchant for book burning - and thus ordered his bombers to leave the town unscathed.

After Oxford was a trip through the Cotswolds -- the charming Olde English agricultural area outside of London. I won't go into it much here because we will be touring this area in far greater depth next month (today we only drove through), but among the sites to be seen are thatched roofed cottages, dobe buildings, and wild pheasants standing out among the sheep pastures (not to mention huge red-tailed deer). It was all quite soothing. I understand now why Kings built hunting cottages out here.

To see or not to see? That was the question as we rode into Shakespeare's birthplace -- Stratford-upon-Avon. It is quite a touristy town, but was a nice stop nonetheless.

Following this was what I was most looking forward to on the trip -- a visit to Warwick Castle.
Warwick Castle is quite simply the best castle in all of England, and along with Edinburgh, one of the two best in all of Great Britain. You can still see the mound where the original structure stood -- built in 1068. The castle as it stands today is circa 14th century, and among the still-standing features are an armory, a dungeon, and a real trebuchet standing outside the walls.

After touring the countryside, we headed back into London, where the tour bus was kind enough to drop me off next to London's flagship Apple Store to attend the release of the brand new operating system.
This store is so cool, and while I unfortunately was able to resist the siren call of a new OS X Leopard loaded laptop, I did purchase a new 160gb Black iPod Classic to replace the iPod I broke the other day. I now have a little device that will play all the documentaries I have stored on my laptop, and will act as a 160gb backup for my photos. Nice.


brieanna said...

wow! ricky your pics are so cool! what are the pics of though? i didn't read the story

Mom said...