Posted by: londontravels | November 8, 2009

64, 65, 66: Oxford and Wales

Well, unintentionally this weekend turned into the Harry Potter experience. All of the Harry Potter shnerds out there, keep your magical cloaks on your back and your Hogwarts in your pants…I went to Oxford on Saturday and Wales on Sunday. Let us start with Oxford. Oxford, which many of you probably know, is where J.K. Rowling based Hogwarts off of in here novels. I have never seen any of the movies, or read any of the books, but if there was one place in the world that I would think little boys would be flying around on brooms and waving wands at midgets named dumbledorf and taking wizardry courses, it would be at Oxford. A quaint little town that houses 38 independently owned colleges that fall under 1 university, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Every building looks like a miniature castle with a sweet medieval flag flying above each school. Although we didn’t get to check out the infamous Bodlean Library (famous for being one of the largest libraries in Europe and now famous for something that has to do with Harry Potter), we were able to check out Christ’s Church, one of Oxford’s largest colleges, as well as a location double for Hogwarts. Apparently there are scenes in the films where the students are eating in the dining hall at Christ’s Church. Even though the films weren’t shot on location, it was replicated in a studio. Apparently though, the steps leading to the dining hall in Christ’s Church were used.

Anyway, Oxford is also known for being the place that Alice in Wonderland was written by Lewis Carrol. Apparently, the equivalent of our dean in the U.S. had a daughter named Alice that Carrol would tell stories to. Alice requested that Carrol write down his stories for her and for one of Alice’s birthday’s Carrol presented her with a written copy of Alice in Wonderland. It turns out that all of the characters in the story are based off of professors at Oxford and their tendencies…pretty neat. Oh yeah, and apparently Bill Clinton got blazed at the local pub, the Turf Tavern, when he was attending Oxford…fun fact for you.

Sunday was a pretty amazing day, for Steve and I took a coach tour first to Gloucester and then to the towns of Tintern and Chepstow in the Wye Valley of Wales. At first, Gloucester looked like it was going to be a waste of time, with really only one attraction, which was the city’s cathedral. Well, the cathedral turned out to be absolutely breathtaking. Being Sunday, there was a service going on (which we sat in on for a bit) and then we checked out the cloisters that surrounded the cathedral, which were equally as stunning. It blows my mind that people go their to worship every Sunday like it is no big deal. The cathedral is nearly 1300 years old and has amazing gothic architecture and high arching ceilings (perfect for some more Harry Potter!). That’s right, a handful of scenes were filmed in the Gloucester Cathedral as well as one of the cloisters was used s the girls lavatory in the film. Also, pupils from the King’s School (part of the cathedral) were used as extras.

If that doesn’t give you your Harry Potter fix, then hopefully this will. Our last stop on the tour was in a village in Wales called Chepstow that was home to the oldest stone-built castle in Britain, as well as home to author of the Harry Potter books, J.K Rowling. She didn’t live in Chepstow, but she did live on the border of Chepstow and Bristol (close enough). The Chepstow Castle was quite amazing as well. The first thing we saw when we walked in was people practicing sword fighting…that’s right, like we were at medieval times or something. The castle had a ton of small compartments and areas for different rooms and it was located right on the edge of the River Severn. Very neat.

Between Gloucester and Chepstow, came my favorite part, Tintern and home to the Tintern Abbey. Those who know of Tintern Abbey probably know of the famous poet William Wordsworth who took inspiration from the Abbey in writing many of his poems (those who took IH2 at Temple know what I am talking about). Apparently Wordsworth would get all hopped up on pshcycadelics and such and roam the lands around the Abbey and come up with these masterful poems (I can totally see why he would do that…the area is unreal). As for the Abbey, which is also located on the fringe of the River Severn, is a giant skeleton of a building that has been standing for almost 900 years. Visitors are allowed to peruse (spelling?) through the ruins and take in its beauty with no restraints (kind of like the Roman City). Very neat as well.

All joking aside about Harry Potter, this weekend has definitely encouraged me to check out the movies (refuse to read the books), for I hear they are pretty decent. It would also be cool to watch and see all of the places that I recognize. I think that is all from me for now…another successful set of trips, another weekend down. It is amazing how fast this is going.

With Love,




  1. Your visit to Oxford and Wales sounds fascinating. I love old buildings. It is exciting to imagine all of the wonderful and maybe not so wonderful things that have happened over the hundreds of years they have been in existence. I am sure you will have deja vu when you see the Harry Potter films.

    Just wanted to tell you again how much we enjoy the commentary of your day to day adventures. I enjoy it when you sometimes question your spelling. You were correct with “bated breath” and just recently “peruse the castles.” You were correct both times. By Jove, we may have another Willie Shakespeare in our midst!

    I finally have some information for you about some of our Scottish relatives who have not, as yet, gone to their heavenly reward. As soon as I can sort it out so it will make sense to you, it will be on its way to you in the next day or so.

    Meanwhile, stay safe — have fun!
    Love, Mimi

  2. Hey, no knocking Harry Potter. Once you read them and see the movies, you’ll want to go back. We went to another town, Leacock, that seemed to be Harryland as well. It’s by Stonehenge. It’s amazing to think what we call “old” here is like 200 years where there it is like 2000 years.

    Get to Cambridge and take the river tour through the college…….and geez, get some work done.

    • I know, it blows my mind how old everything is in Europe and America is like a brand new Cadillac. I will do my best to get out to Cambridge…weekends are pretty stuffed from here on out.

  3. I feel a movie weekend coming on. Let’s rent all of the Harry Potter movies. Pop some popcorn,snuggle up in our PJs on the couch and go to the land of Harry. Is it a date???

    • deal…right after we get that Blu-Ray player 😉

    • Read the books first. Even my dad has read them all….and he barely gets through the newspaper (sorry if you’re reading this, dad)

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