During our first week abroad, we got to see a little more of England than just London.
We had one day completely free of class and group activities while in London. A group of us chose to spend that day taking the train out to a smaller town–St. Albans, about an hour out of the city. This was England. This took me back to my semester in Wales. Riding the train as wind whipped the rain against the windows. Watching the landscape transform from city structures to rolling green hills dotted with dark brick homes with colorful gutters and slate roofs. This was the UK that had stolen my heart and been my home.
The town itself was super charming. It boasts a beautiful cathedral which is one of the oldest sites of continual worship in the UK. It is also the site of an ancient Roman city and hosts remnants of a Roman theatre. Overall, St. Albans provided a lovely day at a different pace than the busy city.
And of course, what would our group’s travels be without some delays and transportation fiascos? When we arrived at the St. Albans train station to hop on a train back to London, we found the train there packed and not going anywhere. We were told that no one was certain when the next train would be leaving–they were waiting for a conductor! We settled ourselves in to wait for at least an hour…when, in a stroke of luck, I overheard one of the station workers saying there were a few spots left on a bus that would take us to a train station 40 minutes away where we could get on a train to London. We dashed to the bus and all got seats, only to see a flood of people coming off the train and out of the station. It was yet another adventure for us, but we eventually made it back to London!
St. Albans Highlights:
-The huge outdoor market stretching several blocks
-The beautiful cathedral
-The Roman Theatre ruins
-Afternoon Rosebuds tea at The Merchant
Our second day-trip out of London was as a class to Oxford. This was a place I had been bummed about not seeing while I was studying in Wales, so needless to say, I was pretty excited to see the home of the famous university as well as important place for both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Our afternoon tour was led by a man named Alastair who used to work for the BBC and knows pretty much everything about the university. He focused on how the university was affected by the war, which was pretty crazy–some of the smaller colleges shrunk down to just 7 men after war broke out.
And of course, we had to close out our day with dinner at The Eagle & Child pub, famous meeting place of the Inklings.
-Touring Magdalan College
-Prime tea stop at the Congregation House
-Dinner at the Eagle & Child!