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Published: September 25th 2009
Sheldonian theatre in Oxford
Oxford, Cotswold, Slaughter, Burford, Bourton on the Water & Bristol
http://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/oxford-cotswolds-bath-lacock-and-stonehenge.html use the link to see the tour description
We woke up bright and early and got ready for our only planned tourist trap tour. Jaco took us for a healthy McDonald’s breakfast, and even Leon enjoyed McDonald’s, which he usually despises! We had bacon & cheese Bagel with hot chocolate. Even the McDonald’s are better in London. The décor is much better and it’s much cleaner and neater. From there it's off to find our pick-up point. Jaco dropped us off and went off to work. We had some trouble finding where we should be as there was no clear indications, just a hidden street address, and after recalculating we found the pick-up point, that we walked past twice before realizing!
We were relieved when our mini luxury coach arrived and Melinda was in first to get the best seats. We met the rest of our traveling companions. We didn’t much mind the people we were to spend the next two days with, but didn’t really bother to make friends. Our travel companions were from all over, we had people from USA,
No walky on the grassy!
Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia. Did I mention we were only 13 plus the driver? We all chatted a bit and were amazed at how alike everyone actually was. The Canadians were taken by all the Labels the Russian girl wore and there were romance in the air when it came to the Saudi guy and the mandarin speaking girl. Sweet.
Our first stop was the historic University City of Oxford with its beautiful gothic building style, with decorative gargoyles everywhere. Our guide Debbie was larger than life and as the only born and raised Oxford Tour guide we heard some interesting and hilarious stories about the culture and history of Oxford. The academic dress of the Oxford University is a black robe. The longer the robe the more prestige as this indicates your “rank”. The funny thing is that the people in Oxfords try to make the gowns look longer by wearing it off the shoulder and hunching their backs and walking with bended knees, it’s hilarious! JRR Tolkien and Oscar Wild are but some of the famous names associated with the university. We saw some of the building in which the Harry Potter movies were
Oxford, Exeter College
(If my memory serves me right)
filmed including the library building. You can not enter any of the buildings unless you are an oxfordian, but Debbie sneaked us into a church building of one of the universities and its breath taking. We also learned that the first copy of any written word that gets published in the UK goes directly to the library. The amount of books and size of the library that runs underground is unfathomable.
On our way to the next town, the 16th Century town of Stow-on-the-wold, we drove by stretches of canola fields, even thou it’s pretty it’s quite unpopular with the locals. We had lunch here and Melinda tried a locally brewed cider. It’s with the first sip very obvious why it is only locally available as it tastes like vrot fruit! We were all supposed to be back at the mini coach by 13h50 as we were scheduled to leave at 14h00, but after 15 minutes of waiting for the girls from California and Russia, we had no choice but to take off without them. Our very upset driver and guide drove us to the most romantic little town we’ve seen so far, and he went back again to
look for the girls. We explored the town of Slaughter and fell in love with it. Perfect for a romantic break away. The name sounds vulgar, but actually translates to place with lots off mud. We saw a wedding at the local church, the beautiful bride and the church bell’s chiming just adds to the romantic feel of the little town, with all the little bridges and green trees and clear water streams. The bride was an older lady and Melinda realized that she would prefer to get married before being described as an older lady bride in someone’s blog.
Next stop is a tiny town called Burford. We saw another bride but were distracted by the old school candy shop! We didn’t bother to see much of the town and spend all our time deciding what candy is best to buy. The next stop was much nicer and much older! This “little Venice” of the Cotswolds was beautiful and had black swans swimming and ducks swimming everywhere in the town. By now our guide found the two girls and we overheard him giving them a stern warning and telling them to stay in the coach if they can’t
be more considerate, poor Trev the tour guide is now also a baby sitter! Also for the first time we had to pay 20p to use the water closet/lavatory. Lucky for us the machine was broken and we got 40p change, so they actually paid us to take a leak.
We drove an hour and a half to get to our Holiday Inn Hotel in Bristol, by now it was cold and windy and we decided to not go to the pub close by, and rather walked over the road to the Sainsbury’s where we got 4x Guinness and 4x Bulmers all for £7. That’s what you will pay for one of each in a pub. We played cards and laughed so much at each other when playing along with a “do you know your partner?” TV game show we almost cried. We decided that we should let the rest of the people in he hotel sleep in peace and quiet and turned in way too late for people that have to wake-up again early the next morning.
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