Leo's Rabbit just graduated from Oxford ;-) Well... not really, but he would have if only Oxford University was accepting rabbits. Unfortunately they don't and certainly it's a shame as our Rabbit is a very clever one and, like many Oxford graduates, he could become a famous politician or maybe even a Prime Minister. Hmm... thinking of that... not such a bad idea...? ;-) Rabbit for Prime Minister! I dare to say that he would probably serve Her Majesty better than some of our politicians ;-) But I am going too far with this digression; it's a travel blog after all so I will stay away from politics. Back to Oxford then.
So why Leo's Rabbit chose Oxford as his destination? The answer is pretty simple - it's a magnificent city! It was a real feast for Rabbit's eyes just to walk along the cobbled streets and narrow passageways surrounded by the splendid historical buildings of every English architectural period dating from the Saxon times. The immense history and the majestic architecture of the city impressed our little Rabbit - his mouth dropped open in amusement and his ears stood straight up. And although he is not very found of heights, he bravely claimed on the top of St Mary's Church tower to have a greater view over the city. The view was definitely worth the climb. As Rabbit himself cannot find the right words to describe its beauty (let's don't forget that he was left mouth open in amusement), he will use the words of Mr Matthew Arnold, a poet, who captured Oxford with his famous evocative expression: 'that sweet city with her dreaming spires'.
The stunning buildings described by the poet house the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford. It's a very prestigious university; apparently world's number one, according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. There are approximately 9 applicants for every place available - quite a competition indeed!
Oxford University is made up of 38 colleges and six permanent private halls. The elegant honey-toned buildings of the colleges are scattered throughout the city, and it wouldn't be possible to visit them all in one day or even a week (not only for a small Rabbit but also for a significantly larger human like you - I hope I am right to assume that the majority of my readers - all 5 of them, including family members ;-) - are humans rather than rabbits). On his day trip to Oxford Leo's Rabbit decided to explore just one college and he chose the largest of them all - Christ Church College & Cathedral.
Christ Church has a vibrant history (it was founded nearly five hundred years ago - that's about 100 generations of healthy rabbits!), rich culture and magnificent buildings. Leo's Rabbit entered the college through the Meadow Building.
This beautiful building in the Venetian Gothic style was built to provide undergraduates in the nineteenth century with more and better housing. The rooms are still used by students and staff, and overlook Christ Church Meadow, a tranquil area of pasture and tree-lined paths bordered by the rivers Cherwell and Thames.
Next Rabbit proceeded to the Great Hall via the magnificent staircase. He admired the broad flights, the beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling and tall mullion windows illuminating his route.
The staircase have been used in a number of films including The Golden Compass and Harry Potter. Professor McGonagall welcomed Harry and his classmates to Hogwarts at the top of the Hall stairs (that's exactly where the Rabbit stood today!).
After climbing the staircase Rabbit found himself in the Great Hall - the incredible pre-Victorian hall, where the academic community congregates to dine each day and banquets are held on special occasion. The hall seats up to 300 people - our small Rabbit felt even smaller in this great room. He looked up at the magnificent 'hammerbeam' ceiling and the walls covered with portraits of many famous members of Christ Church. Over the years, numerous luminaries have been educated here including Albert Einstein, philosopher John Locke, poet WH Auden, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll; the author of Alice in Wonderland), and no fewer than 13 British prime ministers. Leo's Rabbit felt overwhelmed by the immense history of the hall. As a Harry Potter fan he also knew that the Great Hall inspired the appearance of Hogwart's Hall and was recreated in a studio for filming.
Passing back down the Hall staircase, Rabbit emerged into the Great Quadrangle, the largest quad in Oxford and from there he entered the Cathedral. He was impressed with the beautiful Victorian glass window showing the Archangel Michael leading his army of angels to defeat the devil. Rabbit imagined himself leading an army of rabbits and instantly felt bigger and braver :-)
He visited all the cathedral's chapels and lit a candle.
After his walk around the college one very tired Rabbit headed for a lunch (don't forget that Christ Church is the largest of all the Oxford colleges - big challenge for a small Rabbit). On the way to the pub he stopped briefly by the Radcliffe Camera (in this case 'camera' actually means 'room' from Latin), a stunning light-filled circular, columned library and reading room built between 1737 and 1749 in neo-classical style. It's a truly beautiful building and an iconic landmark of the city.
As it would be expected from a very British rabbit, Leo's Rabbit had fish and chips for lunch. With his tummy full (if you think that the portion of food appears larger than Rabbit himself, you are not mistaken - this Rabbit can eat!), he enjoyed a walk along the canal and then visited the Covert Market, a unique shopping place showcasing the very best in local crafts, food and drink - gifts, shoes, fashion, flowers and jewellery - all under one roof.
Leo's Rabbit enjoyed his day in the magnificent City of Oxford. It's not only a city with a rich heritage but also a vibrant, cosmopolitan metropolis, 'certainly worth visiting' - says Rabbit.
Leo's Rabbit 'lives' in my handbag and he travels with us everywhere we go. He has pictures taken at various locations, tourist attractions and places we visit. As a part of this blog we will describe Leo's Rabbit Travels to share our personal experiences from these visits. Hopefully couple of people (apart from us :-) ) will find it interesting and may even feel encouraged to visit one of Rabbit's destinations.