For more than five years, the sight of Oxford on my bucket list has haunted me. Only an hour from London Paddington and I could never manage to fit it into my UK itinerary. Until last December, when I braved a blistering cold morning for an (overdue) Oxford daycation. The only thing I had on my Oxford itinerary was the University. Not having a detailed hour by hour itinerary is very unlike me. I blame the hangover of the flu virus that started three days before in Spain for this lapse. Me, without a plan, only lasted till the train pulled into the Oxford train station and I made a b-line for the information booth to get recommendations and directions to the University and city center. About a mile into my walk to the city center, I started to regret my decision to come to Oxford. It was frigidly cold and the remnant of the flu virus was kicking my tail and threatening my day-cation. Just as I was making a mental pros and cons list of this trip, I found the open market. Tents set up with everything from antiques, used clothes, Jamaican cuisine and mulled wine. I went straight for the mulled wine. Two cups of mulled wine and a vintage LBD purchase later, I felt better about my daycation decision and was ready to explore Oxford.
My first stop was Oxford University. Well, sort of. The attendant at the train station gave me a little history on the famous University. Essentially, it is not one place; but a collection of colleges around the city. Together, these colleges make up what we know as Oxford University. Did you know that?
While trying to decide which of the colleges to visit first, I found Carfax tower. There was a sign out front boasting the roof top had great views of the city. If you don't already know, I cannot pass up the opportunity for a great cityscape. I paid the three-pound admission fee to access the rooftop. Making my way up a very narrow stairway (It was not fun for my hint of claustrophobia), but I was willing to push through that for the promised cityscape. The view was great but the wind gust at the height was unpleasant. I gave up after fifteen minutes.
I walked around the pedestrian area for a bit stopping to peer into shop windows and watch street performances. It had been two hours since I arrived in Oxford and my lack of planning was hunting me. I caved and signed up for one of the "free" walking tours.
Most of the tour focused on the colleges of Oxford University. The guide shared stories of famous Oxford alumni as we walked the grounds of the colleges. Some of the colleges had free entry and others require an entry fee. The entry fees range from a pound to three pounds. We visited the University Church of St. Mary's; Bodleian library, Radcliffe camera and the School of Divinity. Several spots we visited were the inspiration or actual filming site the Harry Potter movies. No tour of Oxford is complete without a stop at the famous whispering arch.
Although the tour was "free" tips. The pamphlet recommends a minimum eight-pound tip. I still had some time to explore on my own. I started at the Museum of History of Science to see Einstein's blackboard while he was at Oxford. I also made stops at Eagle and Child and the Covered market. I ended my time in Oxford with (late) afternoon tea at The Rose on High Street. It was the perfect way to wrap up my Oxford day-cation.
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