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Oxford, England
How long is a piece of string?

Accommodation in Oxford, England

OxfordWhen I meet people when I am abroad and tell them I’m from Oxford they almost immediately show a sign of recognition but then invariably ask ‘How long does it take to see the sights of Oxford?’ My knee-jerk reply (not meant to be rude) is ‘how long is a piece of string?’.

Oxford can be visited in a day, and an amazing number of tourists do spend only that long, but you can only scratch the surface of the city in that time. So in one day a typical visitor will find their way onto an open top bus and take a guided tour of the city. This is great for showing the overall layout of the place (it is surprisingly compact) and seeing a lot of sites quite quickly – cameras clicking or whirring for their souvenir collection. Then they will often pop into one of the old famous colleges to see what it’s like for students – one such will surprise them; called New College, it dates back to 1376! They may think they are in Venice when they discover our own version of the Bridge of Sighs. Often they visit one of the tourist shops to buy memorabilia, frequently including an Oxford University tee shirt.

Oxford-CarfaxThen they set out for their final Oxford experience – the unusual boating thrill of punting, where the propulsion is done by standing on the back of the punt and pushing a pole into the river bottom. It is a skill that needs to be learnt and many tourists have great fun learning. Then the one day visitor moves onto the next location to continue their ‘instant’ visits.

Those who stay for several days find that there is a lot more to Oxford. For example, there is the Botanic Garden where in bygone times plants were grown to make medicines. There is a science museum where you can see, amongst many other exhibits, the blackboard Einstein used when he visited Oxford. Another museum, the Natural History Museum has a Dodo, dinosaurs and many other exciting exhibits. Oxford is the home to the oldest public museum in the UK, the Ashmolean, with an incredibly rich collection including Powhatan's mantle (he was Pocahontas’s father). Oxford also has the world’s oldest purpose built concert hall, the Holywell Music Room, where many famous composers have conducted including Handel and Haydn.

It is possible to see the college where parts of Harry Potter were filmed, Christ Church College dining hall. You can also see what’s left of the original city walls with the oldest building being a church built into the wall, St Michael at the Northgate, dating back to 1040.

Oxford Christ Church

I have not had time to mention the fantastically varied collection of restaurants and pubs (and clubs for younger tourists), the art museums, the shopping, the outdoor market and the covered market, the beautiful villages just a few miles outside the city, some 600 million year old fossil walls, ice-skating, the theatres, the pub where Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) and C S Lewis (Narnia) used to meet to discuss their fantasies, as well as their Oxford houses, the place where Alice in Wonderland was dreamt up by Lewis Carroll and so on and so on. Many colleges are adorned with gargoyles and grotesques - it takes some time to work out the difference between them. I have not yet mentioned the ancient castle and prison both of which are now open to visitors.

Just outside Oxford can be found open air sales where you can buy anything from ancient agricultural implements to an original Edison recording device and even a potty! Some would say that it is an insult to only visit Oxford for one day but I would say it is the visitor’s loss.

Oxford CollegeWhen we have people stay with us at Homestay Oxford while they visit the city - we make sure that, however long they have available, they discover as much of beautiful Oxford as they can.

William Turner
Homestay Oxford

 

 

 

 

 


Oxford Bridge of Sighs

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