January 5th, 2010
Day 4: Oxford, England, UK
I'm writing this a day late, because there was no time to sit down and write yesterday. Tuesday started off with breakfast as usual, followed by a workshop on "Character Introduction" by Walt. This lasted until eleven and then we had a free afternoon to tour. Some people stayed on at the Abbey, but most decided to go to Oxford.
The majority of people took the train, but Jin and her husband, Lou, who have a car, offered to drive Kersten and I into Oxford. We left around eleven-thirty, taking the scenic route on the way. We saw several sheep and horses and lots of rural, rolling green hills that seem to typify this area of England. I slept most of the way on the bus from Heathrow when we arrived, so it was a bit unnerving experiencing driving on the left side of the road for the first time. In England, as most people know, cars drive on the opposite side of the road. However, they also pass on the right instead of the left, have the driver's seat on the right side and have stop lights that go from Red to blinking Yellow to Green instead of Green to Yellow to Red (making it more like a drag race). The English are also fond of their "round-a-bouts", which seem to serve as U-turns in most instances.
When we arrived in Oxford, we scouted out Blackwell's, UK's largest academic and professional book-seller. I bought a copy of "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer, which had a different cover than the US Version and Dave Eggers' book "Where the Wild Things Are". We also had lunch at the White Horse, a pub next door where I had a cheese, apple and sweet relish sandwich with chips and a salad. (I debated the fish and chips, but I'd already experienced them at a pub in Wroxton on Monday, where I went with Walt, David Grand and Becky for lunch.)
After we ate, I walked around with Jin and her husband, visiting the covered market and taking pictures of various buildings, including the Bodleain library. The architecture was simply breathtaking and for someone who comes from a relatively young country, it was amazing to look at landmarks that went back hundreds of years. For dinner, we met back at Blackwell's and Walt, Renee, Jin, Lou, Sean and I went for Thai food on George Street. I had Pad Thai, which I've been craving ever since my favorite local Thai place, Spring Grille, closed down. Right before dinner, it began to snow and it continued all through the night. Oxford was especially magical in the snow and people continued to ride their bicycles, even as it piled up.
We took it carefully on the way home - a truck in front of us ran off the road, but most of the locals drove even faster in the snow. On the way home, we stopped at Tesco, a large supermarket/department store here. All in all, it was a really great day and a good introduction to Oxford, although I'd like to go back and explore Christ Church and the Steampunk exhibit at the Museum of the History of Science.