Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The best way to get from London to Belgium is the Chunnel (Eurostar).
The best way to get from London to Belgium is not by ferry (Eurolines).
For two people to travel this route via Eurostar, it can cost quite a few hundred pounds (one way).
For two people to travel this route via Euroliones, it can cost well under 50 pounds (round trip).
Can you guess how Joe and I travelled from London to Belgium?
I am way too exhausted to explain this now, but tomorrow.... it's coming.
Prepare yourselves for the story of our 8-hour journey (an overnight journey, mind you).
Here's a hint: it was an 8-hour journey that led to our needing a 5-hour nap upon arriving.
I need another nap just thinking about it.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Joe and I stumbled upon All Souls College the other day. All Souls is one of Oxford's 44 Colleges and it's right next to Brasenose. We weren't planning on stopping by but as we passed it, it looked so inviting and the weather was so nice that we decided to give it a little walk-around.
One of the (many) things Oxford is known for is the Harry Potter movie franchise; several scenes from the various 8 movies were filmed in or around Oxford. As we strolled through All Souls, we were convinced it was the setting for at least a scene or two of the movies (it's not). We also met a young man -- from a non-English-speaking country -- traveling alone. He asked us to take a photo of him (I took about 12) and then chatted with us for a minute, inquired about Joe's studies, how we like Oxford so far, etc. My knee-jerk reaction was to invite him to spend the rest of the afternoon with us. In fact, as our small talk winded down and I watched our new friend wander over to a bench, sit down (alone) and open a book, I felt as though I had an affirmative duty to show this guy around Oxford and ensure that he had a wonderful time. Joe, on the other hand, thought I was crazy. So I explained to him that traveling alone has its own special code; there's sort of an unwritten rule that lone travelers stick together, or at least look out for another other. This is how Kaitlyn and I spent an afternoon kayaking with an Australian in the Schwarzwald, how I spent a day at Brindisi Beach, Italy mourning Heath Ledger's death with an Irish guy and an Australian girl, and also how I found a very dear friend in a fellow single passenger on a train ride in Poland. I ran through all of these anecdotes for Joe -- along with a dozen other stories -- but he remained unconvinced that every lone traveler we come across should be our new best friend. Whatever. We went on to have a very pleasant afternoon at All Souls nonetheless!
But more important than our afternoon at All Souls was what happened before our afternoon at All Souls: we stopped by the bus company's office to find out the best way to get to London tomorrow. Because....we're going to Belgium! I talked to the woman at the counter and figured out a) which ticket to get (2 student return tickets), b) which bus stop we should wait at (the stop on High street), c) how much it will cost for the both of us (74 GBP), d) how long it takes to get to Victoria Station, which is where we board our ferry bus (around 100 minutes), and e) which bus to take (either the X90 or the Oxford Tube).
Belgium, I can't wait to see you again!
And Joe just can't wait to see you!
Monday, August 31, 2015
The University of Oxford is made up of a handful of colleges -- actually, maybe two handfuls. That is to say, a grand total of 44 colleges comprise the university as a whole. Our college is Brasenose, which means Joe's classes are at Brasenose, we live at Brasenose, we eat at Brasenose, etc. Brasenose is very beautiful, but then again so are all of Oxford's colleges.
Brasenose was founded by a lawyer, so maybe that's why we're here? Who knows. I do know that at one point, the college had the reputation of being the wealthiest Oxford college and I can say with certainty that that is not why we are here. There is also a legend about the devil coming to Brasenose to claim souls, so hopefully that is not why we are here, either. And there's also a well-known story about a young woman being brutally murdered at Brasenose in the 1800s, but I'm not going to get into that.... instead, I will talk about how fun, magical, and safe this place is! Because it is all of those things.
Oh, but before I get into that, I will mention two noteworthy items about the college's name: (1) I cannot, for the life of me, pronounce it correctly. I pronounce it like it's a German word. And it is not a German word. I have asked Joe 100 times, "How do you pronounce the name of this place?" and yet, for the life of me, I only see/hear/say it in German. In any case, the correct pronunciation (I just double-checked with Joe) is Braze-nose. Braze-nose. Got it. (2) The story behind the name is interesting; it's said to have derived from the words "brass" and "nose." The story that often accompanies this explanation is also interesting; in the 1330s, a group of rebellious Oxford students left Oxford and made it to Stamford in Lincolnshire before the king ordered them to return. 500 years later, a house in Stamford went up for sale -- a house with an ancient door knocker (an animal with a brass nose) that was believed to have been installed in the 1300s. Convinced that the rebellious young men had stolen the door knocker from Brasenose College in 1330, the college bought the house in Stamford for the sole purpose of removing the door knocker and returning it to its 'rightful owner' (believed to be the college itself). It has hung in the dining hall above the High Table ever since (where we eat our breakfast and dinners -- I"ll try to remember to get a picture of it). And now, 'noses' are symbolic to Brasenose students for that very reason.
Now I'm too tired to talk about how fun, magical, and safe this place is, so I will just let these photos speak for themselves.
P.S. I drank yet another cup of coffee today. What is happening to me??! Jet lag, that's what. Although does it count if it's just a chai latte? (I know nothing.)