Why Oxford?

9th Apr 2013
Photo of Why Oxford? 1/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Museum of Natural History
Photo of Why Oxford? 2/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Oxford Alley
Photo of Why Oxford? 3/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
College Quad
Photo of Why Oxford? 4/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Inside the Park
Photo of Why Oxford? 5/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Oxford Street View
Photo of Why Oxford? 6/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Inside the Park II

Of all the places in the United Kingdom, why Oxford? Of course, one does not generally take a trip to the UK to visit this university town alone. Unless you are a student there. So you are in London and you want to visit some other cities. In most cases, you would be advised to pick the country-side. Vast green fields and wildflowers, and little cottages, and if you're lucky, a clear, blue sky to go with it. It sound extremely pleasing. It's bound to be a welcome break from the cacophony that is London. But here I am, asking you to give up your home made shepherd's pie and idle grazing on the grass and your solitude and silence and make your way to Oxford. Here's why:

1. Oxford is an university town. University towns have their own unique characteristics. They are charming in their own way. To add to this charm, Oxford is a really, really (I mean really) old town. And the University too is really, really old. That gives Oxford a different character- something that makes it different from other university towns. 

2. Oxford has its share of interesting museums. One of its most famous and popular spots is the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Ashmolean has a well curated art gallery. The town is also dotted with smaller galleries that will satisfy the art lover. 

3. Oxford is wrapped in history. The University, the colleges, even the streets stand as evidence to the city's past. No wonder film and television crews often pick Oxford to be the setting of a period piece. You might find yourself wandering into a set with men and women dressed in Victorian costumes during one of your strolls around the city. That, by the way, is the other great thing about Oxford. It is small enough to be covered on foot. 

4. If good food is what determines where you go, Oxford will not disappoint you. There are plenty of cafeterias all over the city, especially near the colleges. Ask around to find out which local pub to go to. There are also small food joints that serve different kinds of cuisine. I remember visiting an Italian place that served a killer pizza.

5. Oxford is the perfect blend of the city and the country. There are lovely parks and lovely tree-lined walkways through them. You can rest on a park bench, or pack a picnic basket. These parks are quiet pockets that contain a little bit of that much-talked about serenity of the English country side. 

It takes between two to three hours to get to Oxford from London. Of course, much depends on your choice of transport. If you are on a shoe-string budget, pick the bus as your preferred mode. There are bus services that take you to Oxford for only a pound if you book early enough, but the service, understandably, is not that great. There are other bus services, of course, and the buses are extremely regular. If you are a student, be sure to produce your ID because it will get you a hefty discount. A more accommodating budget might allow you to take the train, which will get you there faster and have more comfortable seats, but I'll recommend the bus. It allows you to take in the journey and the world outside the window. Where you stay also depends on your budget, and you will have plenty of options. And if you can find a friend of a friend of a friend who lives there, try and convince them to put you up for a couple of days. Otherwise, there is always a good old B&B.