Full of young people, tiny dogs and beautiful gardens, Oxford was a quaint and lovely town to visit. I could only look around for a few hours, but I fully enjoyed getting lost in the city center, exploring the small shops and experiencing a brief glance into the life of an Oxford local.
First – the University!
Guarded by low standing gates and semi-friendly security personnel, the university buildings were nestled in between old city shops and various good-smelling restaurants. The enchanting university buildings, all similarly weathered by age and various happenings, remained in great shape – or rather, unified in their rustic appeal. Although disappointed that I couldn’t go into the school buildings or courtyards, I loved the town of Oxford and all the beautiful sights and quaint charm that it had to offer.
There were tall churches and looming archways and longstanding buildings with captivating windows and startling gargoyles and grotesques. The diverse libraries, the most cherished and massive of all the collegial buildings, can be found located within a block or two of one another. The Radcliffe Camera, with its Palladian style dome, towers next to Oxford’s Main Library, Bodleian Library. Directly across the street, I found the Bridge of Sighs, replicating Venice’s iconic bridge, “Ponte dei Sospiri.” I was amused that the bridge was built over a street instead of one of the many canals in Oxford, although it was nice to find such a beautiful bridge in the center of town.
Speaking of canals, I had no idea Oxford had canals. Perhaps not as many as Venice, but still a decent amount. I didn’t see any in the middle of town, but around the train station and then up to Jericho, the hip neighborhood with cool cafes and quaint coffee shops, I found myself walking over bridge after bridge, looking out onto beautiful canals that were strewn with leaves and small boats.
THEN – Shopping!
The Covered Market was a large, indoor display full of bakeries and craft stores, selling everything from groceries and spices to cakes and pastries. I found Ben’s Cookies most delicious, as they sell large, dense, buttery cookies for a pound or so that will make you rethink any diet. As I tried to walk off the 30 cookies I’d just consumed, I was delighted by colorful paintings, sparkly jewelry, beautiful Christmas cakes and adorable Peppa Pig plushies. I loved all the Christmas trees and holiday festivities in the Covered Market, but I especially enjoyed the rest of the town’s appreciation for holiday decorations.
As I walked toward Westgate Mall, I found a few shops that had holiday lights or red Christmas balls, but my favorite was the small choir of carolers and a dancing Santa, encouraging people to donate money to the poor. I loved this. There was also someone dressed up as a minion, begrudgingly bopping along to the music. This mall consisted mainly of high-end fashion boutiques, but it also had an amazing looking (and smelling) chocolate store and a cute tea shop, both decorated with loads of sparkles and fake snowflakes.
Finally – Community!
For the most part, Oxford was expensive, with high prices comparable to London. However, I found one place that had a cup of tea and some cookies for 90p. It was a community center close to the train station, a bit away from the center, which offered tea to locals and visitors alike. There were nice comfy chairs, all facing one another, with small tables in the middle. As I sat down, a few elderly folks wandered in, quietly chattering and excited to speak with neighbors and other tea drinkers. I met a nice lady, Pamela, who filled me in on all that there was to know about Harry and Meghan, Brexit, England’s thoughts on Trump, how to solve America’s gun problem, and where to go for the best quality souvenirs. Although not glamorous by any means, this lovely little building offered some great conversation and nice people. Located next to the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, you’ll find some kind volunteers serving tea from 10-12pm on Wednesdays, in case you’re looking for some enjoyable conversation and relaxation.
Thanks for the great sights and delicious cookies, Oxford! I hope to come back soon.
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