Part 4 and the last photos of Oxford…Motivated by the right and left brain…

As we prepared to depart Oxford we got this final shot.

This may sound odd but, I think I like London more than Paris. My thoughts on this were precipitated by Tom sending me a “brain game” a few days ago that indicate we are both almost half, left and right-brained. Tom leaning to the left, me leaning to the right.

The sky in the UK is ever-changing.

Here’s the link to the 30-second test if you’d like to try it.

Romantic, creative, emotional on the right; practical, mathematical, factual on the left. That somewhat unscientific test may have been correct after all. I loved Paris as a “dream” of Paris. Once there, my practical left brain took over.

The varying colors of the row buildings created a charming feel in the village of Oxford.

For us, it was too commercialized, expensive, and unfriendly. Yes, the sights and history are breathtaking but, after 16 days, we’d formulated an opinion totally overrun by the practicality of the left brain.

For both the Bampton and Oxford photos I had to use the cheap camera in order to save the battery on the better camera for photos of Downton Abbey. As a result, these photos may not be as clear as those at the Highclere Castle. It proved to be a wise decision when the battery on the better camera was used entirely at the castle. Soon, we order a new camera, this time with two batteries.

London, on the other hand, is a more left-brain city. It just makes sense to us. People are more friendly and dignified, it’s easier to get around, the taxes aren’t as high, and most of all, we feel welcomed. 

St. Mary the Virgin, University Church.

It helps that we’ve been able to freely speak in the same language and that we’ve met many wonderful people since we arrived eight days ago, engaging in several enjoyable conversations.

The interior of St. Mary the Virgin, University Church.
More interior of St. Mary the Virgin, University Church.

Our practical sides enjoy the interactions with people we encounter along the way, from the ticket guy at the “tube” to the checkout person at the grocery store where we purchase snacks. Warm. Friendly. Approachable.

The alter at St. Mary the Virgin, University Church.

Don’t get me wrong. Paris is lovely. However, for us, three of four days would have been enough. As one stays longer, a location’s true essence begins to reveal itself as we’ve so well discovered living in countries from two to three months at a time. We either love them or we’re ambivalent after the long stay. There’s no in-between.

A walkway between college buildings.

Perhaps a small part of our lack of enthusiasm is due to the fact that we’re chomping at the bit to get back on another cruise which we’ll be boarding one week from today. 

We took this photo for Tom to send to a former co-worker with the same last name, minus the “e” at the end.

It’s easy for us to understand why we don’t spend almost everyday sightseeing. However, others may not. It’s this simple. When we’d spent all our lives living in Minnesota (over 40 years for me), we never went sightseeing. On occasion, we’d visit a local attraction with our family. But, never sightseeing

As long as there are shops and food the tourists will find it, even on the side streets.

We live in the world.  We have no home.  The world is our home as we move from location to location. It’s human nature to “settle in” finding joy and comfort in everyday activities, at times mundane, although none the less, pleasing to one’s desire for comfort and familiarity. That’s us. That’s our lives.

Hertford Bridge, the “Bridge of Sighs” in Oxford is similar to the “Bridge of Sighs” we saw while in Venice last summer.

And yes, we’ve loved what we’ve seen in Paris and now in London (more sightseeing tomorrow). But, we love looking out at the ocean, our surroundings, nature, learning culture, and lifestyle different from our own.

One more departing shot of the Radcliffe Camera (meaning “room”) building.

Somehow, for whatever time we may have been in a location, meeting people and making new friends, even those with whom we may not share the same language, make it more meaningful. 

A side street in Oxford of little interest to tourists.

Tomorrow at 7:30 am, we’ll walk to the Kensington station to take the “tube” to Victoria Station to hook up with our tour group for an all-day experience. Rain is predicted for the entire day.  We’ll upload the post for the day before we depart the hotel in the morning and be back on Tuesday with many new photos of our day-long tour of the city and the Thames River.

One can only imagine the merchandise for sale in this store 325 years ago.

We’ll take the hotel’s umbrella and wear our hooded jackets preparing to get soaked as we did in Versailles a few weeks ago. Our left brain says to be prepared. Our right brain says “go anyway, rain or shine!”

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2013
With the Internet finally working the following day, we had one more day without a post. Tomorrow, it will be easy going forward when we were able to post almost every day with photos with only a few days without service over the next year.

Part 3…Oxford…Home of 38 colleges in this famous village…

The front entrance to the Ashmolean Museum.

Commencing with our first stop on the 13 hour tour we stopped in Oxford, the world renowned university village for which we had the mistaken perception, as many do, that Oxford is a town of one expansive university. How wrong we were! 

Nude Egyptian statue we encountered upon entering the museum.

In fact, there are 38 colleges in the town of around 151,000 as of a 2011 census, although there is a high turnaround rate due to the comings and goings of a reported 20,000+ students from all over the world.

Ancient hand-beaded animal hide on display in the museum.

Our bus stopped across the road from yet another museum, the Ashmolean Museum, where we were scheduled to return two hours later to meet up with Paul, our guide, and board the bus to be on our way. 

Various coins from the ancient world.

We had the option to join Paul, our spunky guide, and the tour group or to wander about on our own. With Tom’s difficulty in hearing after 42 years on the railroad, it was pointless to join the group when he wouldn’t be able to hear what Paul saying.

This is the Martyr’s Memorial which we encountered on the walkthrough Oxford.

As a result, we walked the village of Oxfordshire keeping an eye out as to where the group was headed. That way, we could catch most of the highlights at our own pace which is always faster than in a large group.

There were a few streets where no cars were allowed, to make getting through the crowds easier.

We started at the Museum. After only a few minutes, we decided that perhaps we’ll have had our fill of museums by the time we get into the two closest to our hotel in Kensington. We wandered off to check out the colleges and historic buildings that contribute to Oxford’s enchanting appeal.

Tom purchased a slice of dark chocolate fudge in this fudge shop which he savored over a few days, taking tiny bites at a time.

The streets, restaurants, and shops were packed with tourists during the busy summer season drawing travelers from all over the world. The narrow roads, the locally mined limestone buildings, homes, and churches created an awe-inspiring scene that drew us in several directions.

The Museum of History and Science.

With a sense of certainty, we spotted college professors, female and male, scurrying about the village doing whatever they do as the new school year fast approaches.

This is the famous Radcliffe Camera building.  Camera is another word for “room.”

Our minds wandered to what it must have been like hundreds of years ago, so easy to envision in this step-back-in-time village.

Another museum or college building.

One could easily spend days exploring this village of vast worldwide influence dating back to the 9th century. Like many old buildings as we’ve seen in our travels, we experienced a renewed enthusiasm as we perused as much as we could in the allotted time. How quickly time flew!

The courtyard of the Bodleian Library.

In no time at all, we were on our way, a smile on our faces, happy to have seen something we’d never imagined would have been in reality, as has been so many of the places we’ve visited in our travels.

Exquisite entrance to the Bodleian Library.

Last night, as we returned to the hotel from yet another disappointing meal, we talked about how odd it is that we’ve been to Istanbul, Dubai, Marseilles, Cairo and so many cities around the world. As we examine the world map, we realize we’ve only just begun. There’s so much more to see.

Statue of William Hebert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Chancellor of Oxford University 1580-1630.

Note: We still have many excellent Oxford photos to share, which we’ll post tomorrow in Part 4, the final post in this series of our visit to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) and the villages of Bampton and Oxford.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2013:
The Internet was still down in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, not to be back up until August 25, 2013. We were frustrated, to say the least, unable to post for several days.