Day Seven began very, very early (I got up at 5 am), but we were outside and waiting when the taxi pulled up at 8 o’clock. We got to Paddington much more quickly than I thought we would for that time on a Monday morning and after exchanging a bunch of goodbye hugs with C, I hopped an earlier train than the one I’d planned because it just happened to be a direct one to Oxford. I actually got into Oxford just before 10 am and got a cab to Keble (kee-ble) College where I’m staying during my visit. Check-in isn’t until 2 pm, but they kindly let me leave my luggage and then I set off to wander around Oxford and see all the well-known must-sees…especially if one is a fan of Inspector Lewis…which I absolutely am.
I wandered down Parks Road and across Broad Street, where I passed the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the Bridge of Sighs before making my way into Radcliffe Square to behold the iconic Radcliffe Camera. After taking lots of photos – like a typical tourist – I wandered through an indoor market with lots of little shops and restaurants before emerging on High Street. I followed it down to Queen Street, where I decided to wander around Marks & Spencer before having lunch in their café at a window table overlooking the hustle and bustle outside. I then wandered past Oxford Castle and eventually made a loop back up to Broad Street passing the White Horse pub on my way back to Parks Road and Keble, where I sat and relaxed until it was time to check-in. There’s something indescribably fascinating about the way that Oxford’s many colleges intertwine with the shops and sights of the town, especially to someone whose university was up on a hill and it was a good 5-10 minute drive down into town.
I had reserved a quad view room which was lovely. It’s very spacious and the view is fantastic, although it wasn’t that fun lugging PJ, my suitcase, up the stairs; the steep ones down into the London flat weren’t fun, either. After unpacking a bit and taking a sort of power nap, I wandered back to Cornmarket Street for some things from Boots and then stopped at a Mexican restaurant that I’d found on UrbanSpoon and got a salad to take back to my room. It was very nice of the young man behind the counter to warn me that the habanero salsa (I do know what a habanero is, dude) was spicy and my apologies if I scared him by trying a huge sample without flinching. He did look rather shocked and I think he was waiting for my head to explode.
I should think about going to bed now and catching up on sleep, but I’m trying to work my way through a Downton fangirl dilemma. My original plan was to drive from Oxford to Bath (my next destination), stopping in Bampton on the way and wandering through the village that doubles for many locations in Downton Village. Now that I’ve decided to stick to the train, it isn’t such a sure thing. I did make it to the Chelsie Beach in West Wittering and that in itself was a pretty awesome fangirl pilgrimage (if I do say so myself, especially considering how terrifying it was to drive there). A good friend has encouraged me to try to find another way to get to Bampton and I have fortuitously discovered that there is a bus route that runs there from Oxford I’ve just spent an hour or so meticulously studying the route map, Google Maps, and the bus company’s site and I think I’m going to dig down deep and find the courage to embark on a bus adventure through the country tomorrow. Anyway, I plan on catching the 8:20 bus which means another early start, so I should probably head to bed.