Traveling to Oxford? Here are my suggestions to make your vacation wonderful.
Oxford is located in central southern England, and is probably best known for the sprawling university with which it shares a name. During our trip, students were a rare sight, as graduation had just occurred. We did see a few young people in their cool wizard-like graduation robes, though. I'm sure the fact that parts of Harry Potter were filmed at Oxford helped to further that thought.
When we visited, we stayed at the Oxford Spires Hotel, a bit of a walk from the city center. Part of this hotel's appeal was its free parking. The facilities were quaint and arranged like a university quadrangle, which seemed fitting, given the location. We checked in and immediately set out for the city.
It was an interesting walk. In addition to the possible wizards, we passed an adorable waterfront pub, a food truck serving wood-fired pizzas (being cooked right there--in the truck!), and a number of lovely gardens.
On our return to the hotel, we walked instead along the Thames and passed many docked houseboats, waterfowl of all sorts, and a pasture of friendly horses.
I would highly recommend beginning your sightseeing with a trip up the Carfax Tower. The Tower itself, more properly called St. Martin's Tower, is all that remains of a twelfth-century church. It provides wonderful views of Oxford's spires.
Next, stroll around Oxford and take in its buildings. If you love architecture, you're in for a treat. They're really fantastic.
Like boats? You can try "punting" the river in a boat for hire. To really fit in with the locals, you should know that both the Thames and the Cherwell go through Oxford. However, the Thames is colloquially referred to as the Isis within the city limits.
We took a bit of a long walk beyond the main part of Oxford's campus center to visit the track where Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile world record. There weren't really any signs commemorating his achievement, but, as a fan, it was cool to see.
We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was fairly good. There I tried celeriac for the first time, and had the only Tex-Mex-like food I found in England. When we returned for breakfast the next morning, we overheard a very jolly woman loudly proclaiming her hatred of jam. On our morning walk around Oxford's campus, I met a very friendly duck who wanted to join our family. It was overall a very lovely couple of days in Oxford. We didn't do much aside from sightseeing, but the architecture and gardens alone would draw me back.
Have you been to Oxford? What did you enjoy most? I'd love to hear from you!