Two of my good friends were visiting London so we decided to take a day trip to Oxford together.
Meet our first non-family visitors from the States!
This is Zack and Nicole. I’ve known Nicole since 1st grade when we both got in trouble for bringing digimons to school, but have probably ran over a thousand miles together since then. I technically have known Zack since 8th grade, but I have zero memories of him that first year. We were both on student government together for 3 years, which mostly consisted of me getting annoyed at him for not doing his job. 😂 They live in Austin now so I don’t get to see them much, but I’m so glad we were able to spend time together last weekend. These are two of my life-long friends. It’s been years since we last hung out, but we picked up right where we left off.
Oxford is home to the oldest university in the English speaking world. It’s everything you imagine a university town to be and more! It’s also the film location to many Harry Potter movie scenes and where authors such as Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkein, Oscar Wilde, and C.S. Lewis studied and probably gained much of their inspiration for their writings.
We got to Oxford around lunch time and our first order of business was finding something to eat. While walking towards the city center, we found the Gloucester Green Farmers Market. They were selling fresh produce and antiques, but we were most impressed by the variety of international food vendors. I ended up getting a stewed pork “Chinese Burger” (肉夹馍; ròujīamó) and really enjoyed it. Zack of course impresses all the Chinese food vendors with his impeccable Mandarin while Nicole, Andrew, and I have no idea what he’s referring to.
肉夹馍 is supposedly the oldest burger in the world (since Qin Dynasty: 211-206 BC).
After lunch, we passed the Radcliffe Camera, a circular building that was used as a library. It is now home to undergraduate reading rooms. We weren’t able to go in, but it could be possible if you book a special extended tour.
Radcliffe Camera, University of Oxford
Another landmark we passed was the Bridge of Sighs (or Hertford Bridge), a skyway that joins two colleges.
No city landmark would be complete without Chinese tourists!
We went to the Bodleian Library
to see the 15th-century Divinity School where the Harry Potter hospital and dance lesson scenes were filmed. It costs £1 to see the Divinity School. The Bodleian Library is also home to Duke Humfrey’s medieval library that was also used for the Harry Potter films however, we didn’t want to pay the fee for the tour to enter it.
Aren’t the ceilings gorgeous?
Divinity School, University of Oxford
We spent time in the original Blackwell’s Bookshop
. This Oxford bookstore was founded in 1879 by the son of the first city librarian and has expanded throughout the UK. This bookshop is famous for publishing J.R.R. Tolkein’s first poem and being the first online bookstore in the UK.
C.S. Lewis and Tolkein probably spent a good amount of time at Blackwell’s.
Nicole and I needed a sweet snack so we walked into Oxford’s Covered Market
and decided on Moo-Moo’s
, a milkshake and smoothie kiosk. They are know for blending chocolate bars, cookies, and candies into milkshakes. The menus is very overwhelming since there are so many options so it took us a long time to order. As usual, I always end up getting some sort of chocolate milkshake (technically, it was a Ferroro Rocher milkshake).
This is Moo-Moo’s, located in the historic Covered Market.
Look at the intense menu in the background.
Our Oxford experience would not have been complete without going punting. We went to Magdalen Bridge Boathouse
for our punting experience. Punting (not the act of kicking an American football) is boating in a punt (boat for shallow water) using a pole to move. Nicole and I sat like pretty little princesses enjoying the sun and laughing at Zack & Andrew’s inability to move the boat and change directions. We hit many boats during our punting experience, but it was super fun!
Zack, our experienced punter
It’s harder than it looks.
Two lazy girls on a boat…
We really wanted to see Christ Church
‘s Great Hall, the inspiration for Hogwarts Dining Hall for all of the Harry Potter films, but when we arrived to Christ Church, the Great Hall was closed until later in the afternoon. When we returned, the college was closed to visitors. In an attempt to see some of the spots, we decided to go to Christ Church’s evensong service. Zack and Nicole got to experience their first Anglican communion service and we were able to secretly take a few pictures. Sadly, we could not see the Great Hall. We were able to get to the bottom of the staircase that was used in the films though. I highly recommend checking the open and closing times of the colleges in advanced!
Christ Church, University of Oxford
Not the cloisters, but we can pretend.
We secretly found the famous staircase!
But there was a “Do Not Enter” sign.
For dinner, we went to the White Rabbit
, a pub that claims to serve “the best pizza in Oxford.” Pizza was solid, but I enjoyed our conversation even more.
The establishment opened in 2012, but has been a pub since 1830.
Thanks Buzzfeed for the recommendation!
An Alice in Wonderland named pub that serves pizza?!? How could we not?
It was a great day exploring Oxford and hanging out with old friends. I’m so thankful for friendships like these – friendships that stay the same when our lives have completely changed. When we are away from family and friends, visits like these mean so so much.
Thanks for visiting!
Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland