For those of you who didn’t experience the magic that was 90’s children’s television, ‘Where in the Wolrd is Carmen Sandiego’ was this quiz show for kids about geography that centered around this sort of international supercriminal, a woman named Carmen Sandiego that was on the run from the law, city-hopping to the most obscure locations possible.
March 9th (that’s two friday’s ago) I embarked on the first leg of my ‘Carmen Sandiego’ trip, which is what I’ve chosen to call my travels during this six-week break between the last two terms at Oxford. I literally went to my last tutorial with my suitcase packed and waiting in the hallway. I’m definitely going to miss the tutorials I had this term, especially since Medieval Literature led me to my thesis topic, but that Friday I was definitely antsy to hit the road! After saying farewell to everyone on campus, I caught a bus down to London, which was all the traveling I needed to do for my first trip (I know, I started small). I met up with my best friend from home, Christina, who is studying in Sevilla, for some sightseeing, Thai-food nomming (we’re both huge fans, and London has the best Thai places) and other adventures.
The highlights were Portobello Market (I had a bit of a tourist moment when I walked down the first few blocks of the antique section and asked “wait, is this it?” only to peer across the intersection and realize that there was about sixteen more blocks to go!) which was in the Notting Hill Gate district, which I loved because it was so quiet and green and close to Hyde park, which was packed in the sunny, gorgeous weather we had!
However, the highlight of the trip for me (theatre nerd that I am) was nabbing cut-price tickets to see the recent production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever with Lindsay Duncan and Jeremy Northam, which was perfect light and frothy entertainment for our second night. It was wonderful to see Christina again and hear about her experiences in Sevilla, and I can’t WAIT to see her again next week when we’re meeting up to travel all around Spain (which is why I’m currently back in Oxford for a few days relaxing and brushing up my Spanish).
However, next I caught a plane to Rome for the next leg of my trip, which was so amazing that’s it’s near-impossible to describe. If you’ve been there, I’m sure you understand. If you haven’t, book a ticket, kayak across the Atlantic, basically do anything to go there before you die. Oh my goodness, the buildings, the fountains, the ruins, the pasta, the gelato.
I met my friend (and future roommate next year!) Lauren and in four days we saw so much of Rome that it still makes my head spin to think of all that we accomplished- we found a great company that does free walking tours of Rome and went on many of those, and then bought tickets to the must-see sights like the Colosseum, the Forums and (of course) the Vatican Museam and St. Peter’s Basilica. It was so sunny and gorgeous (in the upper 70’s!) that I was on a permanent melatonin high as I walked around the city, though the amazing food and wine might have also contributed. One of the highlights of the trip was definitely St. Peter’s Basilica, though the square itself was uncomfortably packed and pushy (like being at a club, only outdoors and with lots of screaming children). However, inside the basilica it was reverently quiet, and since afternoon mass was in session, the choir began to sing as soon as we walked in, which was just magical.
I also got to meet up with some fellow Crusaders studying in Rome on the classics program, like Steph, who took Lauren and I out to dinner in Trasteverde on our last night, where we had a unforgettable pasta feast and swapped stories about various Roman, English and German highjinks.
So while it seems weird not to be writing essays every week (I still get a weird twitch every time we walk past a library, and I apologize to both Lauren and Christina for constantly wandering off into foreign bookstores) I’m definitely enjoying the nomad life! Stay tuned for Edinburgh and my massive two-week journey through Spain.
Sheila Coursey '13