Sunday, July 24, 2016

Day trip to Oxford

Today we went to Oxford! We were able to take a bus called the Oxford Tube for pretty cheap and it was super easy because it just took us straight there and it runs back and forth between London and Oxford every 30 minutes or so. We did a self-guided walking tour that we found online and it was perfect because we were just able to enjoy the city at our own pace. It was really refreshing because we didn't have any place that we had to be after Oxford so we didn't have a time constraint as we did when we went on guided tours. The tour started us out at the Carfax Tower where we were able to go up in the tower for only 2 pounds. It was a really small tower but it had great views of the city and was probably one of my favorite things we did. The rest of the tour took us around to some of the most notable colleges that are part of the University of Oxford. We tried to tour the university Library but tickets sold out before we got the chance. We walked around the grounds of Christ's Church which were beautiful and then toured the church. Some scenes from the first Harry Potter movie were filmed there and it served as the inspiration for the Great Hall in the films. We also went to a really cute little covered market

Christ's Church

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dover Castle and Canterbury

Today we had our last ISA sponsored excursion. We started the day at Dover Castle which was started around 1200, so it is incredibly old. It has a really rich history, and we got to tour some underground tunnels used during the Napoleonic wars and especially during World War II. The tunnel tour was really interactive and it tried to reenact what it the tunnels would have been like during World War II, with videos and sound effects. It was different than most guided tours so I really liked it. Unfortunately on our way to Dover Castle, we hit a bunch of traffic so we didn't get to spend as much time there as we would have liked. There were some exhibits from when it was used as a World War II hospital and other exhibits from when it was a medieval castle that we didn't get to see. We really only had time for the tunnel tour and to go to the tower, which has incredible views. Dover Castle is only a little over 20 miles from the coast of France. Its hard to tell in the pictures but we could just barely see France in the distance! After Dover Castle, we went to Canterbury to see Canterbury Cathedral, which is the head of the Anglican church. It is also really old, it was started in the 1000s but updated over time, and it was really cool to see the different styles. It was also the site of the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket, so has been the site of pilgrimages since the 1100s! We didn't end up with a lot of extra time to explore the city of Canterbury, which was super cute but we still got to walk through it to get to the Cathedral. 

Dover Castle

The underground tunnels
You can see France in the distance! 

A building from 1573 in Canterbury! 
Charles Dickens used to stay here 

Canterbury Cathedral