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london - day 3

After a couple of days in the city, it was time to get the hell out of town; so we caught a bus to Oxford to take in the city of wandering spires. Before going, we stocked up on breakfast snacks at the friendly neighborhood Tesco so that we could maximize our time.

On the way, a few of our fellow travelers were very interested in photographing the countryside. I hate to think of the people at home who will be subjected to the hundreds of pictures of sheep and fields when that guy gets around to doing the inevitable slideshow.

The bus ride was surprisingly shorter than expected, possibly because the driver threw us out at the earlier stop. Luckily, we were able to find the tourist information center, which mainly wanted us to go on an expensive ride to Experience Oxford. We ignored this suggestion and went instead to the inexpensive Museum of Oxford. The museum featured many objects that were exciting to school aged visitors (for proof, see the binder at the entrance), an abbreviated DVD about the town's history (full version available for purchase), exhibits about prehistoric children's shoes, an Oliver Cromwell death mask, a display about student life at Oxford (where students brought servants to fetch them breakfast), the story about a murder and the skeleton of one of the falsely [?] convicted men, as well many other fascinating things. There was even a section about Alice in Wonderland and brass rubbing stations. Other visitors to the museum were (freakishly) much more reverent and slow paced than we were.

After all of that history, we were hungry; so we had lunch at Big Tom (named for the bell in Christ Church Tower -- we wondered if Big Tom and Big Ben ever see each other at bell conventions), which wasn't among the famous pubs of Oxford included in the guidebooks. Nevertheless, we had a good lunch, although I was surprised that my cheese baguette included cold shredded cheese with a side of brown pickle sauce. I'm not sure what substance was actually pickled, but it was pretty O.K.. They also had lots of exciting sauces for our fries.

After lunch we sought out all of the colleges that didn't charge for admission. We thought about sneaking in, but the guards looked pretty ornery. So, we saw a large unexciting meadow, people playing croquet, several chapels, and lots of spires. With that out of the way, we paid a visit to the Ashmoelan museum. Centered around the souveniers of one of Charles's secretaries, the Egyptian collection was among the "not to be missed" parts of town. By the end, we agreed that it was slightly better (but less spooky) than the mummy exhibit at the old Kalamazoo Public LIbrary and Museum. We also took a look at the Ashmolean Ark room, which included yet another Oliver Cromwell death mask! Quite a lucky day, indeed. We also spent some quality time on the ample benches in the hall of statuary, but they weren't thoughtful enough to provide large print signs, minimizing the effectiveness of our lazy spectation strategy.

With that checked off our list, it seemed that we'd exhausted the possibilities of Oxford; so we found our bus and returned to London. There, we decided that after three days of pretty constant walking we could use a sitting down activity. In particular, a movie seemed like a good way to avoid the heat wave conditions. Bombon, el Perro, which I'd missed at SIFF due to customs problems, was heavily advertised and opening that night. So of course, we had to go. Unfortunately, we picked a theater that decided to kill the air conditioning (possibly to simulate the Argentinean setting).

We bought our tickets well in advance, giving us plenty of time to walk around not being hungry. We finally settled on a bar called Waxy's LIttle Sister (the name made more sense when we noticed that there was a Waxy's across the street) for a beer. They had an ingeniously complicated pulley system that could be used to order drinks, but we resorted to securing a sofa in the upstairs sofa lounge and just going downstairs to order.

We arrived back at the theater at what seemed to be an appropriate time for getting seats. However, we were way too early and it was still closed for cleaning. Once we were allowed inside, there was still a lot of time since they don't turn off the cheesy music until 20 minutes after the advertised start time. Even then, there were about fifty commercials warning us against the dangers of drinking two pints and one encouraging us to text Ewan McGregor to fight hunger. This, all before the regular previews.

The movie itself was fairly decent, although the plot was sort of random and the theater was too warm for the experience to be that enjoyable. On the way back to the underground, we walked though Picadilly Circus and were fortunate enough to cross paths with the Jesus Army. This was enough to call it a night.

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