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Tours and the Theatre

Time June 10th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

6/10/11

If knowledge could be gained through osmosis, I would be infinitely smarter now that I have visited both Oxford and Cambridge during my time here. That isn’t to say that UCL doesn’t have an intelligent and academic environment, but I mean it’s Oxford and Cambridge (or Oxbridge as they’re collectively known).  It’s been a couple months since I visited Oxford with a friend, but I have to say Cambridge is probably my favorite of the two just because the town itself seems just a bit quainter; there are bicycles everywhere and lots of little alleyways and cobbled streets which are just things that I love in a college town. Not to mention the fact that there’s a lot of green space and the river right on the college campuses. Being there for just a day made me wish I could live and go to school there. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s really plausible. Anyway I really enjoyed myself and it was nice to get out of London and explore a different area of England. I went on a walking tour of the town (my second tour of England this week, but more on that later) and really enjoyed learning about the history and being able to enjoy the scenery without worrying about where I was going (the streets and alleys were just a tad confusing.) All in all the tour was definitely worth the money and I got to see the campuses of King’s and St. Johns which both had lovely chapels and courtyards.  I’ll try and upload some pictures so you can see. The chapel at King’s especially was just HUGE and really breathtaking to stand inside.

My other tour this week was a coach tour of Bath, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. I’ve wanted to see Stonehenge since I got here and I felt that I couldn’t leave without going. The only issue is that getting to Stonehenge can be kind of a pain, hence the tour. While I had visited Bath previously the tour I chose was the best price I could find that included the Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. It was nice going back to Bath anyway. It’s really a nice town for walking around.  I have to admit that I was a little nervous about going on a tour by myself, but there were a couple other students also traveling alone so it turned out to be fine and I had a great time. Despite the terrible weather the whole day (cloudy with sporadic showers) I had a lot of fun and learned a lot from both the tour guide and the venues themselves. The Cathedral was definitely one of my favorites of all the churches that I’ve seen during my time here. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to explore the town itself more because of the time restraints on the tour, but that just means I’ll have to come back. Stonehenge itself was a little underwhelming. The audio tour, while long, made that part of the visit worth it for me because of the huge amount of information about the history and myths surrounding the stones. I think without the audio I would have been a bit disappointed, but with it I was able to enjoy my time there (even if all I did was basically walk in a circle around some really old stones).  I promise not to make you sit through all the photos I took of it (without the history it might get kinda boring looking at 15 pictures of the same circle of stones lol).  So all in all I’m really glad I went on the tour. I’d say it’s one of my favorite day trips from London, but I’m really not sure I can rank my day trips—they’ve all been so fun!

Since I’ve been back from Cambridge I’ve been trying to keep busy in London and visit or revisit all the places I haven’t been or will really miss. My feet aren’t too happy and I keep getting caught in rainstorms, but I keep finding places that make me fall in love with the city all over again. On Wednesday I found an artist at Covent Garden who had beautiful watercolors of scenes in the city (I picked one up for myself) in addition to a couple bakeries and restaurants that looked delicious. If only I had more than one stomach to be able to try everything! Yesterday I finally made it to the Tate Modern. While I didn’t understand or fall in love with everything there, I kept finding paintings that I could have stood in front of for hours just thinking and enjoying them. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring any of my favorites home with me, not even in postcard form (Why must you torture me Tate Modern by not having my favorites as postcards?!). Despite this I did enjoy myself, though unlike the National Gallery I don’t have the desire to go back again and again. I mean I would go back, but I feel like I saw mostly everything whereas the National Gallery is so huge that I keep finding new paintings and rooms to explore. After the museum I went to see my first Shakespeare play at the Globe (first live performance I’d seen of Shakespeare). I could easily go back and see more plays there, though next time I’ll probably pay the 15 pounds and get seats not in the rain and well sitting down. That’s right, being the genius I am I bought a standing ticket (5 pounds) and didn’t think about the fact that it’s been raining on and off all week. It was worth it though. I was tired by the end, but it didn’t rain that much and I found some cover from it. Plus the performers were quite entertaining in their performance of All’s Well That Ends Well. I wasn’t familiar with the play before seeing it (despite reading it quickly the night before online), but it was really enjoyable and the actors were very funny. Not Shakespeare’s best play, but definitely an enjoyable comedy. Hamlet and Macbeth will probably still be my favorite plays by him though. I really wish I had been able to see them performed while I was here (Hamlet was playing at the Globe and Macbeth by the RSC), but I didn’t act soon enough and whenever I checked for performances they were sold out. Alas, I will have to see them another day.

Well I think this blog post has gotten long enough. I’ll probably be writing another one tonight or tomorrow about how I’m feeling now that I’ll be leaving in a week so look out for that one (it might even be published at the same time as this one. Who knows?)

 

Cheers!

Alyssa

 

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