Sunday, June 19, 2016
After the walking tour, we're given some time to explore on our own. I wasn't quite sure on what to do and I ended up visiting Balliol College which was nearby. You need to pay 2 GBP to enter. The colleges function as hall of residences as well and it made me think of my hall of residence back in NUS. It's not as cool; we didn't have a chapel, tower, or a beautiful garden, but we also didn't have random tourists walking around. We couldn't enter any of the buildings except for the chapel, but I still wondered if the students feel it's weird having all these tourists walking in. At that time the college felt very quiet, with not many people around, except for the few random tourists such as me. I wonder if it's because the school is on a break or if it's because it's a Sunday.
After Oxford, we made our way to Stratford-upon-Avon which is Shakespeare's birth place and also where one of Singapore founding fathers, Lew Kuan Yew, eloped. We got the chance to visit the Shakespeare’s Birthplace museum where you can see some exhibits about his life and works.
You also get to get into the house where he's supposedly born. The house is not very big and the rooms have been staged with things or art works to represent what life was like back then.
In the garden, there were actors enacting some parts of Shakespeare's plays. After this I made my way to the River Avon. There were so many people there that I didn't feel like exploring it. There's like a small pop up market by the side of the river. I only explored a bit of it and then I decided to walk back. I really don't enjoy crowd much.
Our last stop was Warwick Castle. The guide explained this castle a bit in the bus and she made a strange comment when she said if all of us were wondering if we're visiting a theme park.
The castle was bought by an entertainment company and when they opened in to the public, well they made it very commercial. There's a lot of games and activities for the kids. There were people in costumes greeting visitors and it really does have a theme park feel to it. In the castle, the rooms are staged with Madame Tussauds' like characters. It felt very Downton Abbey for me actually and it was rather interesting in a strange way.
One of the most precious room in the castle is perhaps the room that contained Queen Anne's bed. After exploring the castle, I went to explore the ground. The ground of the castle is very big and I didn't explore it all. There's this peacock garden with real peacocks. I didn't expect that. I thought when I saw feathers fluttering, they weren't real. Only when I came closer I saw that indeed there are peacocks. Lucky for us, there was one bird spreading its feathers.
It is rather strange visiting Warwick Castle. I totally didn't expect this, but I guess it's a good experience. I get to learn something about England. Downton Abbey towards the end touched on issues on how difficult it was for the nobility to manage their big estates and a lot of them fell to crumble. It also brought back to mind the comments one of the guides in Scotland said about how the whole land of Scotland are owned by only a few hundred people, but that doesn't mean they're really rich. They're perhaps land rich, but they may not have a lot of capital. A castle is difficult to maintain, you will need a lot of fund and you need to think on how to get those fund. While it's weird that this castle is managed this way for tourism, it's perhaps a good kind of different. The kids visiting seemed to be having a lot of fun. For pictures from these places, please go here.
:) eKa @ 10:13:00 PM •
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