London & Oxford 2012

September 7-16, 2011

I spotted this trip on the Duke Alumni website probably early 2011. I couldn't fit it in that year, but I was on the mailing list and in early 2012 was contacted with dates AND that this year's course would be on The Beatles, which I would relate to better than Shakespeare but obviously still be relevant to a trip to England.
It would be around the same time as my 40th birthday, and the idea of being a student for a week seemed very appealing. I asked my fellow Duke friends if they were interested in going, and I got the typical "no way" response. In any case, I figured there would be some like minded Dukies to befriend, so I was signed up by January I believe.

Another note about this trip- London was the first place I really traveled abroad, as a student in a summer abroad program in 1992- almost exactly 20 years ago. So it felt right to go see more of jolly old England.

I also thought it would be cool to say, "I'm a student at Oxford..." : )

Friday 7th

United $950
#1073 AUS 1:25pm to Houston 2:30pm
#34 IAH 3:45pm to London Heathrow next day 6:55am

Saturday 8th
Arrive & sightseeing in London

Foreign policy tour- time to visit my Anglo-Saxon brothers. Hopefully I will represent us better than Mitt did.

Sunrise over the Thames.

Apparently my luggage wasn't arriving until later in the day behind me.

Stayed at the Crowne Plaza in St. James
Used 25k points per night

A short nap and shower.

Where I spent most of my time, walked most of it.

Walk over to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard, which I never saw while I lived here.

This was the second to last day of the Para-Olympic games- here you see some of the Chinese athletes.

Don't remember these instructions before, wonder if they just recently did this for the Olympics crowd? It probably saved quite a few people.

A little bit of money at this hotel...several Lamborghinis, several Rolls, and even a million dollar Bugatti.

Here a REALLY large fat arab dude swaddles out to get into his Rolls. I'm curious if he has ever worked a day in his life?

Even with unGodly socialist ways, the extremely wealthy here still seem to be managing (despite a significantly higher tax rate than in America, and with healthcare), much like the rich everywhere. Go figure.
In this pic poor worker bee guy has to dress up like an idiot with these horses to live out some girl's princess fantasy play day.

Walked through St. James' Park to get to my next destination.

Westminster Abbey

Big Ben & Parliament

Classic tourist shot

Olympic mascot by Trafalgar Square.

Lunch in a church burial crypt at St. Martin in the fields Church- you can actually see grave markers in the floor.
Pretty much cafeteria style and I didn't care for the days selection, but still a unique dining experience.

Went to see the Churchill War Rooms

I was pretty tired from traveling, so didn't really appreciate here.

Parliament area & The London Eye

I'd been wanting to ride the Eye for quite a few years, and it was a worthwhile experience.

I had a reservation for a late night dinner at the Michelin starred Indian restaurant Quilon, which was right next door to my hotel. But when I went to take a nap I ended up sleeping through dinner completely.
I'm not a big Indian food fan, but they say Chicken Marsala is England's national dish.

Sunday 9th
London, travel to Oxford

Did I mention there is a big police presence by my hotel? There is actually some sort of garrison on that street where the tube stop is.

Had a good breakfast at a little family owned Italian shop right next to the hotel

Then off to get pics of The Tower Bridge.

The saying most people will remember from their first trip to London.

The Special Olympics were winding down while I was here. Here you see fans waiting part of the marathon course.

Outside the Tower of London.

I also made an attempt to squeeze in the Branding Museum, which was dumb- by time I took the train up there and walked half way, I had to turn around back to the tube to go back to the hotel, gather my stuff and check out.

At Paddington Station- of course I had to buy a little mascot for the trip.
Trains to Oxford about every 30min.

Arrival at the Oxford train station.

Took a taxi to in front of the Rewley House.

Looking right down the street- doesn't look pretty, but a 10min walk that way gets you into the heart of Oxford's shops and restaurants.

Looking left towards the dorm buildings. Very little vehicle traffic came down here.

Little park that was in front of my building.

Facade of my new home for the week.

My room- a single, no roommate.

My bathroom- almost as big as the room. En suite.

View from my window.

5:45pm to 6:15pm - Introduction to Rewley House

6:15 to 7pm - Welcome and opening reception

Here I am having some sort of deep liberal arts discussion with my professor Dr. Rikky Rooksby.
Rikky Rooksby's website

7pm dinner

Can't help but observe that I was the only non-white person in the program. Similar situation to a Jimmy Buffett concert, so I am used to it.
I do believe I should hold out for some sort of diversity scholarship before attending again, ie "the browning of Oxford" program.

Hitting ye old literary haunt with two classmates.
"The Eagle and Child is a pub in St Giles', Oxford, England which is owned by St. John's College, Oxford. The pub had been part of an endowment belonging to University College since the 17th century."

"It has associations with the Inklings writers' group which included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis."

Monday 10th

Breakfast was 7:30-8:30 every day
And the seminar class 9-12:30 every week day, with a 30min break for tea in the middle.
Lunch was roughly at 1pm every day.

Morning class on-
'And in the end...' What ever happened to the Beatles? Introducing 1960s Britain and the Beatles

Music only has 21 notes.
Songs become a mirror that take us back into ourselves- if we can engage in the aesthetic emotions from the song we've gained something more.
We walked through the Beatles catalog- the Beatles actually only produced albums from '62-'69, and they are considered to have 3 phases. Then got a "quiz" via slides on the 60s. Two of our classmates grew up in that period.

12:30 group photograph

Oxford walking tour

Duke of Wellington

One of the main town streets. The tower on the left is the oldest building in Oxford (over 1000yrs old, the north gate of the original city wall) and almost directly across from it is the town KFC.

The cross on the road was a site of some executions back in the day after having pissed off the Queen.

Oxford is the oldest university in the English speaking world, and the second oldest surviving university. It is made up of 38 different colleges, and 26 British Prime Ministers went here.

"The Lord is my light"

And we thought Duke was Gothic. Perhaps more grey in any case.

Next few pics are of Christ Church College, where some Harry Potter scenes were filmed or were inspiration. The author for Alice in Wonderland also drew from here.

The dining hall.

Views of the city from the top of the tower at St. Mary the Virgin.

Hertford Bridge, modeled after Venice's Bridge of Sighs

5:30 to 6:30pm - Lecture: History of Oxford, by Professor Angus Hawkins