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Day 3

Monday, June 21, 2004

Owing to the U.S. Open, we overslept and headed out a bit behind schedule for our trip to Oxford. We got to Paddington Station, just missing the 10:18 and had to wait for the 10:48.

  We arrived in Oxford just a few minutes late. It is a small town but with lot's to see. Unfortunately for us we arrived during exam week and just about every school and quadrangle was closed to the public. As a result, we really did not see much. Compounding our problem was the rain, which moved in just as we completed our beer at the Elephant and Child. Speaking of which, to our story.  
  We made our way out of train station. We considered taking the tour bus, but it was 9 pounds each and from what we had read, the town was not that large. This turned out to be true. Quickly we were at the heart of Oxford. It was now past noon and I had the notion to go to the Trout Inn, a place used in the Morse TV show and reputably still visited by Colin Dexter. Lewis Carrol also visited this place. Unfortunately it is north of town and we did not have time to reach it.  
  As an alternative, we went to the Eagle and Child, an ancient pub that featured the hand carved names of Lewis Carrol and J.R.R. Tolkein, among others. We waited in line to order, but as we got close to the bar, the bar maid announced that lunch would take a half our to serve. Since our time was short, we just had beer. I had a Wadworth 6X and Karen had a Stella.
  We emerged from the bar to find rain. Unfortunately, the rain continued without stop until we left Oxford. This combined with the fact that students were in exams meant we did not see much. We were very impressed with the town of Oxford in general. In addition to all university buildings, they have a very active downtown with shops and restaurants.  
  We fought thru the raindrops to get to Christ Church College. We got to it, though wet, but like everything else it was closed for exams. Across the street was Alice's Shop, which of course sold Alice in Wonderland stuff. I got a pin and Karen bought brother Mike a keychain.  
The rain continued and we made our way down the street toward the train station. Our time in Oxford was growing short, but there was time for one final beer. We stopped into a great looking pub called The Hobgoblin. From there we made our way back to the train station to catch the 2:45 back to Paddington. We needed to be back in time to clean-up for the reception at the American Embassy.  
  The reception was another story. Our hotel was not more than 2 blocks from the US Embassy. The reception was to start at 6pm, so we left the hotel at about that time and walked over. There are barricades all around the Embassy and entrance is restricted. Signs pointed us to the left and then around the side. We came upon a guarded entrance and asked about the Reception. The guards directed us around the other side to another guarded entrance. By the time we got there we had circumnavigated the building. As it turned out, we were at the wrong location. The party was at Winfield House, the Ambassador's residence. We hailed a cab and made our way there. Winfield House is a beautiful place with impressive gardens. The Reception was nice, but after a long day we were tired, though we did stay 'till nearly the end.
  Back at the hotel we grabbed a quick bite at Garfunkels before retiring.  

Day 4