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Oxford in General
Member Name: Picasso
Oxford in General
Date: 04/11/05, updated on 04/01/10 (220 review reads)
Advantages: Lots to see and do for all ages
Disadvantages: Expensive to park
We arrived in Oxford just after lunch. The day was fresh and sunny and so we decided to take the open top bus tour run by The Oxford Bus Company. The price of this was £9.00 per adult and £4.00 per child. The tour lasts an hour and stops at 20 places of interest. You can get on and off the bus as many times as you like on the day of purchase. The guide you are given contains several money off vouchers to various Oxford attractions. We used most of these bringing the cost of the bus down to £5.00. I always find that taking a bus like this is the best way to see the sights and to get to know the geography of a place especially if it's a first visit. The Oxford bus did just that. There was a travel guide on board and headphones were provided. Foreign visitors could tune in to their native language. I always find it best to stay on the bus for the full duration initially. I then note down places that interest me and get off at the stops next time around.
There are hundreds of places to see and visit in Oxford, dominated by ancient colleges, magnificent buildings, winding alleys with fantastic shops, amazing book shops and then there is the river, the punts and the many restaurants and cafes. It's difficult to know where to start. Our three-day stay only allowed us a whistle stop tour and I've picked the attractions that I enjoyed the most.
Said to be the grandest of all the Oxford colleges and it's chapel the only one in the world to serve as a cathedral. Cardinal Wolsey founded it but in 1529 when he fell out with Henry VIII, the monarch took over. In the grounds is Christopher Wren's "Tom's Tower" which houses the great bell. The bell is tolled 101 times every night at 21.10 on the dot. The great Tudor dining room has seen Charles I hold his parliament here, Elizabeth I watch a play Charlie Chaplin take dinner and, Lewis Carroll is said to have eaten 800 meals. All the tables still remain. This is a great place to take children as the dining room and grand staircase were used by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter Films. It was also used in the filming of Brideshead Revisited. The entry for Christ Church was £5.00. Prices are reduced at lunch time during term time when the dining room is closed as the students are taking their mid day meals. Not advisable if you have Harry Potter fans with you.
THE OXFORD STORY
This is another good one if you have children with you. Take your seat on an indoor ride that will take you through 900 years of Oxford's past. The vehicles in which you sit are an adaptation of students' desks from way back in 16th century. The ride lasts around 25 minutes. Here you learn that Lewis Carroll first told his stories of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and that Edmund Halley first spotted his famous comet in the skies above Oxford. Once out of the carriage you can visit the interactive exhibition using touch screen technology and learn about the groundbreaking research undertaken at Oxford University. Price £1.50.
CARFAX TOWER/ST MICHAEL's TOWER
Carfax Tower is also known as St Martin's Tower and is the remains of a church dating back to 1032. Oxford's oldest tower is that of St Michael. The Oxford Martyrs, Thomas Cranmer and, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were incarcerated here and the door to their cell can be seen in the tower. Both towers offer superb views over the city, that is if you can manage the 99 steps contained in a narrow spiral staircase to get there.
Other places well worth seeing are the Ashmolean Museum, the Sheldonian Theatre and Magdelen College. The rest we didn't get to see.
There are cafes and bars to suit all tastes and the city has it's fair share of very good restaurants. We dined at an excellent Indian/French restaurant called Saffrons in the Summertown area and Loch Fynes in Jerico. We celebrated our anniversary at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir, all of which are worthy of separate reviews. We lunched at a place called Freud, which is situated in an old church and took coffee in The Grand Coffee-house that is thought to be the oldest coffee house in Europe. There are also some fine pubs, many of them recognisable from the Morse series.
Again plenty and to suit all purses. We opted for a guesthouse on the London Road that was a 10 minute bus ride into Oxford. We decided on this because although we had travelled from the north-west by car, we knew that parking was a problem and expensive in the city centre. The local authority is quite hostile towards cars as can be expected they don't want cars polluting their city and spoiling those fine old buildings. The buses ran every 5/10 minutes and we were more than happy with that and it did mean that we could enjoy a drink in the evening. The fare £1.40 each.
As well as visiting the websites mentioned earlier, I also contacted Oxford Tourist Information and they sent me some really useful material plus I bought an excellent book printed by Jarrold entitled "Oxford more than a Guide" price £6.99 from Waterstones which I carried around with me.
Three days obviously wasn't long enough and we left with plenty more to see. I can now tick Oxford off my "must visit list" but because we both enjoyed our stay so much and have only had a taster, I will now add it to our "must revisit" list.
Summary: The city of Oxford