The City Centre

One of the first things I noticed about Oxford is how incredibly old everything appears. London is technically a much older city but, due to the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the bombing raids of World War II (Hitler spared Oxford as he had planned to make it the capital of England at the completion of his conquest), a great deal of London has been rebuilt; this is not the case in Oxford. A great many of the buildings still have archers' towers and, together with the brick-paved streets, give the feeling that one has just stepped into the Middle Ages.

There is seldom a time when Queen or George St. are not bustling with activity and there are almost always a few students hanging out on the central monument's stairs. There are also street performers who come out in the nicer weather and the different streets often take on a much different feel depending upon who happens to be playing what instrument that day.

My favorite, however, is the fire juggler. Almost every night, once the sun went down, he would light his torches on St. Giles (around the corner from the hotel pictured) and share his talent with all who would watch. I have seen fire jugglers in the past, and this fellow wasn't any better than the next guy, but it was the fact that he would perform his light show directly under the windows of Blackfriars' Library, where I would often camp and do my homework, that made him so endearing to me. It was quite a shock the first time I saw a series of flaming sticks flying up and down in front of the second story window, but soon it became part of the routine and I waved goodbye to him as I left for the day upon the library's closing.