AdventureNotes #18: Oxford

A lot of people know that Oxford is a name of a university. Do you also know that this is the name of the city where the university is located in? Almost the same as Cambridge, Oxford tourism depends on its university. Therefore, traveling to Oxford means coming into the university colleges, museums, and libraries – well, at least most part of it. I visited Oxford twice, first by myself on a super tight budget and the second with my husband and his friends with an enough budget so that I can enter some of the colleges there.

Oxford is a city located in the south part of UK. The city is quite reachable by train and bus. For me, I went to Oxford by bus, both from London and Birmingham. The bus from London to Oxford can be as cheap as £1 for one way. The bus is called Oxford Tube, which everyone can take from the front of London Victoria Station. I don’t know how much it will cost if you just get on the bus and pay there, but I bought my ticket online and it was just £1. The journey from London to Oxford takes around 2 hours. The city is also around 2 hours journey from Birmingham, from which I took a MegaBus that costs only £7 return. Quite cheap, right?

As the city is quite small, if you don’t explore the whole museums there, most people visit Oxford for only a day trip. As I said, the main attraction is its university. As most cities in the UK, the city has more than one university, but the one that is the oldest university in the UK and the most popular one is called University of Oxford. Similar to Cambridge, the university is divided into many colleges. Each college has its own complex, with accommodation, classes, halls, and sometimes its own library, too. Some of the colleges are open for visitors because of its beauty. Some of them are free, and some requires visitors to pay a “small” amount of money. Well, the most expensive one in Oxford is Christ Church College. It is indeed, the most famous college of all because its hall is the inspiration of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Great Hall. When I visited the college, I had to pay more than £5. At that time, the college also opens a Bed and Breakfast so that visitors can try living in the dorm and having breakfast in the Great Hall. I must say that the place is beautiful, starting from the meadow outside the main building up to the inner part of the college complex, which includes dorms, library, chapel, and halls. However, I think the hall is not as I expected. In reality, I think it is quite small. It is still functioning now, holding dinners and breakfasts for the students. When I went to see the hall, the university staffs were preparing dinner as they set up the tables there. I also saw the accommodation building, which is in direct opposite of the library of this college. There, I saw a student who just wears pajamas to visit the library. I think the students basically live in the library and just go to their accommodation when they need to eat or shower. Haha… Well, actually you can choose to not live in the colleges but rent an accommodation a bit far from the city. It is cheaper.

Other Oxford attractions are also related to the university, such as the All Soul’s College (we cannot get in here because it is closed for public), University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Bodleian Camera, and Radcliffe Camera. Those places can be visited by paying an admission fee. If you are really interested in knowing what’s inside, maybe you can buy the tickets. However, I am not. So, although I’ve visited Oxford twice, I only see those places from the outside. I heard that it is quite useful to join walking tours around Oxford to get to know the city better. Some of the walking tours are free, but some are not. If the tour is not free, it is a good chance that the price includes the admission tickets to several places.

Is Oxford really that expensive? Well, no. If you are on a budget, you can always go inside the museums. There are several museums in Oxford, which most of them are managed by the university. I went inside one of them just to pass by, and I think if I have enough time, I’d love to explore the place. Again, as many other museums in the UK, the place is arranged interestingly so that the image of dark and gloomy museum vanishes from my mind.

Well, the last place that I visited on my latest visit to Oxford is the Covered Market. It is basically an indoor market full of different kinds of stalls. This place is so interesting because you can find anything, from cookies to uncooked chicken. Some of the small bag shops and accessories shops are unique, I don’t know if they have branch elsewhere. There is also a really interesting cake shop with different decorations on the cakes. I love the place! I think it’s worth the visit.

For me, Oxford is… yeah, Oxford. I cannot find an exact adjective to describe it. I think it is quite interesting, although the city center is so packed. My husband doesn’t really like it because he thinks it’s vague (I don’t know why), but if you’d like to see how ‘the bright’ students live, you can visit Oxford.

Mar 12, 2016

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