Oxford, you're a sneaky one. You impressed us with your crazy, but very sweet people, made history fun again and made us not hate England anymore. We thought you'd just be another stop on our U.K. tour, but instead left a lasting impression on us-a good one this time. Here's why:
Day 1: In true Caroline & Lexa fashion, trying to get from Crawley-London to Oxford was an adventure of its own. Apparently you need to print bus tickets to get on- online proof wouldn't cut it. So we spent 1.5 hours weaving through a maze of coffee shops and bus terminals to the bowels of the London Victoria bus station to find a printer. Fun fact: Internet Cafe's still exist! From there, our day went without a hitch. We found our hostel easily and spent the rest of the day exploring the city and guessing what each of the buildings were. Even though it was pouring and miserably cold, we felt a connection to Oxford right away.
Day 2: Want to know one of the best things about traveling without an agenda? Stumbling onto random things. While walking the streets that morning, we found a street carnival that stretched on for miles. There were huge rides, games and "candy floss" (cotton candy) for sale. It was literally just sitting in the middle of the city, which we found strange, but pretty cool. I guess a little of the Indiana State Fair decided to follow us across the ocean.
By far the standout was our Footprints FREE Walking Tour. We loved this one because the stories our guide told centered on the city's quirky history:
1) The Radcliffe Camera (A dome-like building that's super well known. Although we had no idea what it was until the tour...maybe we should have done a little more research?) actually spared Oxford from being bombed during WW11. A Nazi architect thought it was too beautiful not to use as government headquarters once the Nazis won..oops.
2) All Souls College is so exclusive that only the top student from each of Oxford's 38 colleges is invited to take the test from hell. Whoever scores the highest becomes a fellow-meaning you're pretty much set for life. Every century, the fellows get together to have a huge party called the Mallard Hunt. They get drunk and go searching for a duck. At around 5:30 a.m., the fellows come out to a cheering crowd with the duck's head on a stake.
3) In 1983, the crown prince of Japan attended Merton College. He was so disgusted by the food, that he made a very generous donation to its kitchen. Today, students get Michelin 5-star dining for every meal.
4) On May 1st, a huge party is thrown to celebrate the coming of Summer. A tradition is that drunk students jump off the top of the Magdalen bridge...fully knowing that it's only two feet deep. Ambulances are on call because 1 out of 3 daredevils end up breaking something.