Oh how can I describe the beautiful city of Oxford!? One of the world’s most famous university cities, it is a magical, privileged place. Although steeped in history and studded with impressive buildings, it maintains the feel of a young city, thanks to its student population. The elegant honey-toned establishments are scattered throughout the city and wrap around tranquil courtyards along narrow cobbled lanes. The internal grounds are tranquil spaces where students play cricket or study below blossoming trees.
The city was a wonderful place for our wanders. The prestigious University is the oldest in the English-speaking world, and some of the colleges date back to the 13th century. The University expanded rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris and the returning students settled in Oxford. Oxford University is a collegiate university, made up of 38 colleges and six permanent private halls. And private they are. Visitors can gain entry by a small monetary contribution, at certain times during the day.
One of the most iconic buildings of the city is the Radcliffe Camera, and it was also one of the first and last buildings we visited on our trip. Built in the 18th century, it houses the private Radcliffe Science Library, the Radcliffe Camera and a reading room for the Bodleian Library. I attempted a few times during the day to enter, but was asked to leave each time. It was a bit disappointing being such a library nerd my whole life…
The city’s Ashmolean Museum was opened in the 1600’s, and is Britain’s oldest public museum. We spent a half an hour in this extensive museum, and even spotted a piece by Warhol!
The historic centre has also been featured in many films, including my all time favourite, Harry Potter! The films were shot at Oxford University; the Great Hall was the setting for Hogwart’s dining room and the Library doubled as Hogwart’s Infirmary.
As per usual, we were fortunate enough to indulge in much deliciousness throughout the day. The hardest thing was selecting from all the choices available! For a late morning snack, we opted to have a small picnic on a bench in Oxford park. Away from the hustle and bustle, we sat quietly among blooming gardens and old trees enjoying a salad and falafel.
As the first unexpected rainstorm approached, we stopped by the Handle Bar. It is a casual cafe with white brick walls and cycling artefacts; very appropriate as it is located just above a bike shop. Their chai tea latte may have been a bit too sweet, but their chocolate chip cookie was just right. Probably the best cookie I’ve had in England so far.
During the second rainstorm, we shared a cappuccino at The Grand Cafe. The place stands on the site of the oldest coffee house in England!!! Although we didn’t try anything else, the coffee was top notch. They are clearly experienced in making great coffee.
Dinner at Turtle Bay Restaurant was unbeatable! It would be expected, owning the title of best Caribbean restaurant in Britain. The lively restaurant definitely made us feel like we experienced a magical apparition to the beach shacks of the Caribbean as we enjoyed our flavourful, spicy dishes.
I left the city on a high, and can’t wait to come back in the future!