As I've said on my Twitter, Facebook and even in a little exposé, Nishaa Sharma, did about Adventurous Alexis I lived in London for about a year and a half. While it's easy to brush off anyone who complains about London with the famous Samuel Johnson quote. You know the one, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." It's not so simple, especially when the world is going crazy about the capitol city because of a royal birth or some celebrity or just because you happen to live in Victoria and the tourists are driving you mad. Maybe it's a mix of all three but sometimes you need an escape, luckily it's not hard to do these days. This is why I went to Oxford.
I didn't know it before deciding to go but it's very inexpensive and easy to get to Oxford from London. All you need to do is book a bus ticket which costs practically nothing! For a single trip it's £11 (20$) and a return is £14 (26$) on the Oxford Tube which runs everyday with one coach leaving every fifteen minutes. I'd say that's a pretty handy last minute trip, especially when you're desperate to get away.
Once I'd booked my coach ticket, all I needed was to find a place to stay and pack a bag. Since I fancy myself an expert packer, I quickly got onto Hostelworld and booked a weekend's stay at Oxford Backpackers Hostel which happened to be the cheapest and the cheapest option. While on my way to Oxford, I did a google search and that was pretty well the extent of the actual trip planning I had at the time because all I truly knew about Oxford was about the University which I definitely needed to see. Harry Potter was filmed there, of course I was going to go!
Things To Do
A quick visit to Google was really not enough to see what to do, however I was already in the small city so a list of the best things to do in Oxford is below for those of you who either are like me and fly by the seed of your pants or even those who like to plan a trip a little more.
1. Oxford Castle
After dropping my things off at the hostel, I grabbed a map and was off. With a coffee from Pret, I meandered around the city and saw a hill and some older looking buildings around it. While I had no clue what it was because, as I said, I didn't plan a thing, I went up anyway. I later found out that the Oxford Castle which stood at the base of the mound was what I was looking at. While a little grim, I walked through the land following the route prisoners would in shackles.
The strangest part, however, was that there was a Pizza Express where the castle and prison had once been. Still the view of the city was really worth it because it felt open and less like the concrete jungle I was trying to escape. Oxford felt quiant in comparison and it was exactly what I needed. It was even reminiscent of a time when I had escaped from Paris to Bruges, which was perhaps why I instantly liked Oxford after seeing the Castle.
2. The Carfax Tower
The tallest building in Oxford was my next stop so that I could get a view of the city skyline and while I was there I learned that there had once been a church attached but it had been demolished for road construction in the late 1800s. While it's not the most exciting spot it's worthwhile to go up for a view above the city on a clear day.
3. Oxford University
Oxford University - a place where people from all over the world go to study - was easily my favourite spot and I even went twice. Once for the extensive buildings and to have nostalgia wash over me like a spell. Yes, because of Harry Potter. I saw a few spots where the movies had been filmed which made everything worth it. Sure, there was more to that. There were the libraries and the fact that some of the world's most acclaimed writers had stood there too but if you're in your early twenties, as I am, your focus would probably be the Harry Potter movies. Sorry, Wilde!
The best part, however, are the grounds. The beautiful parks which allowed me to feel a bit more at ease after a hangover. I went for a jog to clear my mind and was able to feel instantly like a part of the school just because of how many other people there were getting in an early morning run or were walking throughout the grounds. Even Professors seemed to be doing this similarly.
4. Mingle with Locals
Next to the hostel was a comedy club, which I skipped, and a normal club so with the staff of the hostel and a few of their friends I went for a few... okay maybe more than a few drinks (Hence the hangover. Sorry, Mom!). Luckily at Wahoo, where I went, entry was free thanks to the new mates I'd just met. It was as fun and as seedy as any club but it was totally worth it for the people I spent my evening with.
5. The Ashmolean
After my brisk jog throughout the grounds of Oxford University I decided to go to The Ashmolean Museum - a free visit too. Inside there was a wide range from modern to Pre-Raphaelite paintings which made sense as I learned it is the oldest public museum in the entire world. It's a rather understating place too, unlike the Louvre or The British Museum which both have grand entrances. In Oxford, the architectural design of the museum blends in almost. Possibly because the city has been mostly untouched by war since the 19th century, even remarkably escaping air raids in World War Two.
6. Walk Through Oxford
This seems like a simple thing and something you would do anyway but if you are going to Oxford the best thing to do is really just to wander around the city and find yourself in front of places like the Radcliffe Camera or the Bodleian Library or the old city. The cohesiveness and the multiculturalism of such a small city is really worth it entirely.
Oxford was a great place for a weekend trip. Have you ever been before and what did you like to do most? Did you stumble upon something great?