Posts Tagged ‘church’

Touring Cambridge

King\'s College, Cambridge
King’s College from the River Cam

Yesterday, Evan’s parents and I took the train out to Cambridge. It was only about 45 minutes away from London on the express train, which made for an easy trip, and we took a taxi into town since it was a bit of a walk from the train station.

The first thing we did was take a walking tour offered by the visitor’s center. Our guide, who knew a ton of trivia — much of it likely town lore — showed us around town, took us to a few of the colleges, including Trinity, where we got a nice glimpse of the courtyard, and King’s, where we got a tour of the immense chapel, which is strangely devoid of much religious iconography in favor of having kings’ and queens’ crests, symbols and initials around. It also had some very old graffiti from the English Civil War, which was interesting.

The tour ran a bit long — the guide sure liked to chat! And afterward we took a bit of a break for lunch.

Punting on the River Cam
Punting on the River Cam

After lunch we were on our own. We walked down to the River Cam and hired a friendly punter to take us on a river tour, which was relaxing and a lot of fun. He knew a lot about the city, answered lots of our questions and did a good job of maneuvering around the less experienced punters. We also helped two people get their poles back.

Inexperienced punters
Inexperienced punters who resorted to dragging their boat from the riverbank

And remember the Bridge of Sighs from Oxford that went over the road? Cambridge has another version, though it’s not quite as ornate, doesn’t have glass and actually goes over the river. I’m guessing that it’s a just a common bridge name at this point because though tour guides like to claim they’re replicas of the one in Venice, neither looks anything like it.

Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge
Another Bridge of Sighs — though this time over the river

Unfortunately, we were visiting during exam time and most of the colleges were closed to visitors, so we didn’t get to really spend any time exploring them. We spent a bit more time walking around town, but it was after 5 and most attractions seemed to be shutting down, so we walked to the train station and headed back to London.

See more photos on Flickr.

Oxford Close Up

In Oxford today, I took some nice close-up pictures of architectural detail and reliefs. Check them out…

reader at balliol college
Reader at Balliol College

couple with a skull at Christ Church Cathedral
Couple with a skull at Christ Church Cathedral — they look, probably appropriately, distressed

angel playing lute
Angel playing lute at Christ Church Cathedral

donkey at university church
How did Donkey from Shrek make it onto University Church?

peace sign at university church
Giving the peace sign at University Church

Pan gracing a doorway
Golden Pan gracing a doorway

See the rest of my Oxford photos on Flickr.

An Afternoon in Oxford

Today I finally made it to Oxford for the day! I took the X90 bus, and got there in about an hour and forty minutes. I met up with friends (well, connections — I’d never met them before) and wandered around the city with them for a bit, then went out on my own to explore the many colleges, churches and gardens Oxford has to offer.

Christ Church college gardens
Christ Church College and gardens

I started with the obvious choice — Christ Church College, the biggest and most renowned of Oxford’s colleges. I got to go into the dining hall, a room full of historic portraits, excessively long tables and a giant pump bottle of Heinz ketchup. Yes, it’s still in use for students today, who all eat their meals in the hall — on Christ Church-imprinted plates, no less!I also checked out the large quad and the cathedral. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many churches crowded into a small town like at Oxford. Each college seems to have at least its own chapel, and there seem to be spires everywhere you look in the city.

The colleges also all seem to have their own beautifully manicured gardens, which are off-limits to visitors, and I could spy students picnicking, tanning and drinking beer beyond the gates in many of the colleges.

punts in oxford
Punts in Oxford

After Christ Church, I wandered into a few other colleges, then walked down to the river, where I watched people going punting. I would have loved to go, but I wasn’t going to try to manage a boat on my own or hire someone to push me along in my romantic ride for one. I considered just trying to make friends by asking strangers to hop in their boat, but I never got up my nerve. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Evan is out of town this weekend, so I was exploring on my own.)

After checking out the river, I walked down a long alleyway by Magdalen College and ended up walking under a replica of Venice’s Bridge of Sighs, which curiously just crosses over a street. This brought me to the concert hall and library. I could hear a concert going on, but it was well underway and the doors were shut.

oxford bridge of sighs
Bridge of Sighs

From there, I walked to the Radcliffe Camera and University Church, where I climbed the tower to get a view of the city.

radcliffe camera

View of the Radcliffe Camera from University Church tower

I walked around a bit more, back through the center of town, and went to check out “Oxford Castle,” which is apparently a center full of chain restaurants — quite disappointing.

The best parts of the day were definitely seeing all the gardens and Christ Church College, and climbing up the tower at University Church. Just walking around town was also really nice, since there are lots of beautiful buildings with ornate details and the weather was perfect. Some close-up shots are on their way!

You can check out all my photos on Flickr.

Views From Montserrat

Saturday, on our way up to Miriam’s brother’s house, we stopped by Montserrat to have a look around the monastery on the mountain. The views were great. I only wish we had more time to explore.

The hill Montserrat is on, itself, is actually quite different from the surrounding scenery — it’s much craggier, with rock pillars jutting up like fingers, instead of the smooth ridges found on the nearby mountains.

We also learned that Montserrat is a common Catalonian woman’s name, most often abbreviated as Montse. We’ve met a Montse before, but didn’t make the connection until Miriam told us that it’s also her mother’s name.

Montserrat ViewMontserrat View

Check out more Montserrat photos on Evan’s site.

Photo Walk: Regent Park

Today, Evan’s working all day, so I had time to explore on my own. I decided to go to Regent Park and had a lovely walk over there — I especially enjoyed Marleybone High Street with its cute shops, nice grocery stores (I finally found tofu!) and old churches nearby. The park itself was very pretty, with a winding lake, large and bustling sports fields and the zoo, which I just looked in on. I only had my cell phone to take photos, but they should give you a good idea of what the park is like, especially by the water. There are also row boats and pedal boats, which I believe are called pedalos here, that you can rent out. Oh, and I saw another ferret on a leash — this time with a sweater!

Regent ParkRegent ParkRegent ParkRegent ParkRegent ParkRegent Park

Coffee, Church and Counseling?

St. James Piccadilly Wailing Woman StatueI often walk by St. James Piccadilly church and have even wandered through its touristy market out front once, but I always wanted to go draw one of the statues there outside the Nero coffee shop (which is basically in the church), so I stopped there again late last week. I grabbed a baguette and a latte, both quite good, and sat down on a park bench in the courtyard by the green drop-in counseling trailer (I know, bizarre). I couldn’t see the statue there, so I moved to a table to get a better look and had a leisurely draw until some guy sat right in between me and the statue, partially obscuring my view. He was leaning over reading a newspaper most of the time, though, so I ended up being able to see pretty well. I think the drawing and everything turned out pretty well, too. St. James Piccadilly

Neat Paris Picture: Candles at Notre Dame

Candles in Notre Dame