Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day Trip: Oxford, England

Actual date of this event: 17 August

Luke and I had a chance to visit Oxford on our drive from Aberdeen to London, but we weren't in the exploring mood at the time. I am glad that we did not stop because we probably wouldn't have been able to enjoy the beauty of the town. We thought it would make for a perfect day trip while my parents were visiting us.

The drive to Oxford is about an hour and a half from our home in Wimbledon. Before the trip, I did some research on things to see and do and used the City Guide website which has some very useful information for visitors. Most helpful is the page that tells you where to park! We chose to park on Worcester Street which was not free, but parking usually isn't free in the UK. We also decided to stay within the University grounds (for the most part), so we started on the east end of the High Street and worked our way back west where we parked.

We started at the River Cherwell which held a bunch of colorful little river boats. We saw folks paddling around on the water down through the little trees, doing their best not to bump into each other.
We walked by the University's Botanical Gardens which lies on top of a medieval cemetery. We did not go inside - the front garden wasn't too impressive. Hopefully inside was better!
Right across from the gardens is the impressive Magdalen College (pronounced "maud-lin"). It is one of the most touristy colleges of the university as it was founded in 1458 and attended by famous folks such as CS Lewis and Oscar Wilde. It is open for visitors, but we chose not to pay the admission fee.
Wandering along, we passed by a coffee shop that claimed to be the oldest coffee house in Europe (1654).
We turned off of the High Street onto Queen's Lane which took use down a long, narrow, zig-zaggy road. But it lead us to quite a few major sights... which was the point.

We came upon a little bridge that passed through two buildings which I thought was the "Bridge of Sighs." And around the corner from that was the New College and its Chapel. The door to get into the Chapel was shorter than my dad.

By this point, Queen's Lane had turned into New College Lane. We kept walking and... oh, that other was NOT the Bridge of Sighs. THIS is the Bridge of Sighs. The bridge's actual name is the Hertford Bridge but its nickname came about because of its similarity to the actual Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.

Right next to the bridge is an alleyway. We saw the sign for Turf Tavern which is one of the more popular pubs in the Oxford, claimed to be the best. It is hidden and you will miss it unless you spot the sign on the wall down the alley. It has a really great beer garden and I can see why the locals like it.

Back out on New College Lane, we passed under the bridge and a load of sights opened up to what seemed like the center of the university.
To the left is the Bodleian Library. There is a courtyard in the center which is open to the public. There are signs upon entering that ask you to be quiet since it is a library. It is amazing how disrespectful people are. No joke, people were talking and laughing loudly, so rude. Anyway, the library is one of the oldest in Europe (1602) and is the main library of the university.

The Sheldonian Theatre is also located in this square. It is used for various things but not for drama.

Next to the theatre is the Museum of the History of Science. We popped in a for while as it started to rain... and it was free. It was the home of... a bunch of old science stuff. One particular item was quite neat: Albert Eistein's Blackboard which is from his second lecture at Oxford. I will let you read the sign with the rest of the history. Anybody got a clue as to what the blackboard explains? I sure don't!

Around the corner from the library is the Radcliffe Camera (camera means "room"). It is used as a reading room for the Bodleian Library. Darn that scaffolding!
Next to the Radcliffe Camera and back out on the High Street is the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. For a fee, you can climb the high tower, but we chose not to do this.

After this we did a bit of wandering along. Down a narrow path lined with colorful buildings...
Past the pub claiming to be the oldest pub in Oxford and to have the lowest ceiling...

Passed a pub named after my dad... ("profile pic!!!!" if he had facebook)
Finally, we found Christ Church! Christ Church is both a college and a cathedral. Thirteen British Prime Ministers have come from this college, and there are a number of different buildings on the site. But the most important fact associated with the college is that it has inspired many scenes from movies. Hogwart's Great Hall was modeled after the Hall of Christ Church. Along with others but NOTHING is more important that Harry Potter.

Look at this this line!! That is why we did not go inside.
It was about time for a stop, so we went to dad's pub for a half-pint, I mean pint... we don't drink half-pints! Never!
Lastly, we parked near the castle, so we checked that out. Oxford Castle is now the home of the Malmaison Hotel. Some of the castle's original buildings are still standing, and the hotel has added on around it. It is a little creepy because the hotel uses old cell blocks for rooms and offices. I mean, obviously, they have been renovated, but it is still a little strange. Anyway, there is a small hill next to the castle that you can climb for a pound.
Oxford has LOADS of history! Everywhere you walk, there is some kind of history associated with a building or a site, and I love that the town preserves it with signs. Oxford is an extremely touristy town, but it isn't really touristy in the annoying way... for the most part. I enjoyed the town and the university, and glad that we were able to take a day trip while my parents visited.

University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and has 38 colleges.
It is illegal to drink alcohol on the streets of Oxford - I'm just sayin'.

1 comment:

  1. What a cute town! Were people so short or do you think it just took more effort to build larger doors? Also, I agree that nothing based on the cathedral is more important than Harry Potter. Oh, I like the little boats. I bet those are hard to navigate being so long! I'm a little disappointed that you didn't try it. ;)


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