Oxford, what to do?

Jun 5th, 2007, 01:25 AM
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Oxford, what to do?

my 20 yrs. old niece shall be staying in Oxford for three weeks, next September. She'll be attending an english language course for foreign students.
What places to visit or idle you may recommend? (must do and must not). Any useful link? Must-Not do?
josele is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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I was a student in Oxford for 3 weeks as well. In Oxford, the various college gardens and chapels are worth visiting. She should definitely see Addison's Walk and the Deer Park at Magdalen College. Also Christ Church College Chapel, which doubles as Oxford's Anglican cathedral. And just outside Oxford are the lovely Cotswold villages. Blenheim Palace also comes to mind as does Hidcote Manor. Does she like gardens? www.cotswoldsgardens.com/
Cimbrone is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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And of course punting on the Isis and browsing in bookshops are perennial Oxford favorites.
Cimbrone is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:40 AM
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Yes, she is fond of gardens, and we had the Cotswolds in mind; just looking for local things. Thanks for your suggestions.
You mean the ISIS accalerator? You'll have to explain that!
josele is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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It's sometimes fancifully claimed the Thames, which runs through Oxford, is locally called the Isis.

Some rowers do: full time inhabitants of the city don't and never have. THe Thames at Oxford's not terribly well suited to punting anyway, since motor boats can make it choppy. Its tributary, the Cherwell (whose pronunciation also divides the local population) is far better suited to punting.
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:55 AM
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As mentioned, just visiting the colleges will be interesting. Also, the Ashmolean Museum is certainly worth a visit. London is a short trip as are sites such as Stratford-upon-Avon. I was there a month and left with things to do. One thing about studying there is that she is liekly to discover other things to do while she is there. She will also have the opportunity to enjoy a pub or two if she is so inclined and of the right age.

One interesting site was Iffley (a villiage that one could walk to along the river) with its very interesting Romanesque church. A nice walk and a neat church. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/e...of-st-mary.htm
DanM is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:17 AM
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I think it must have been the Cherwell where I punted several times. I remember a traffic jam of punts one particularly lovely afternoon and maneuvering deftly among the daytrippers who didn't have my three weeks of practice! They were not having a fun time of it...

I debated whether to call the river the Isis or the Thames. Now I will know!
Cimbrone is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:29 AM
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Just walking and discovering little side streets and interesting shops or pubs in Oxford is a treat. There are lots of books about walks in Oxford,(for example, Oxfordshire Walks: Oxford, the Cotswolds and the Cherwell Valley by Nick Moon), as well as many sites availble on-line, and we always see something new every time we follow one.

(Some ideas: http://home.clara.net/reedhome/oxford/
http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/COMPSAC/oxford/walks.html http://gouk.about.com/od/englandtrav...xfordwalk1.htm)

She can just wander and enjoy at her own pace and many of the walks are themed, so she can pick something she likes.

The Natural History Museum is fun, if she is the least bit interested in dinosaurs - and virtually anything else animal-related. If she likes books, there are lots of new and used bookstores. The Botanic Garden is also lovely.

The pubs have been mentioned, there are many (some of my favourites are The White Horse, Eagle and Child and The Bear). And she doesn't have to feel odd going by herself, I've been many times on my own (that doesn't sound quite right!). She doesn't even have to drink, or can just order a 1/2 pint (called a 'half'). She can have her lunch, or tea, ale, whatever and soak up the history and eavesdrop on the conversations of those around her. (Some of my best ideas for murder mysteries have come from eavesdropping in Oxford pubs.)

There will probably also be information provided once she checks in to her course, I attended a three-week program at Christ Church some years ago and they gave us a package with things to see, do, etc. Also, students somehow always seem to know the best places to have fun - anywhere - so I'm sure it won't take her long to find out where other students are going.

Lucky young woman.
rickmav is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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Oxford is great and you've got lots of good suggestions already (she'll run out of time long before she runs out of things to see/do in Oxford)

One other thing - there is an excellent Tourist Information Office in Oxford. She can check at the TIO for trips/tours out of the immediate area. Like day tours in the Cotswolds.

Blenheim Palace (I can hear flanner yell now but I think she would enjoy it) is a short bus ride away in Woodstock.

She can also easily get to Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon.
janisj is online now  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Blenheim is gorgeous, but especially on the inside. Much like Buckingham Palace, it's pretty austere on the outside. Why on earth does flanner dislike it?
Cimbrone is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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I think he must have had an unpleasant "encounter" w/ the Duke
janisj is online now  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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Your lucky niece!

We were in Oxford for a full day in March, and this weekend I put together and ordered a 50 page book from our Oxford photos as a present for the friends went with. It made me want to go back and see all of the things that we missed!

You have some excellent suggestions here. She might want to go to Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral (mentioned by Cimbrone).

Also at Christ Church College, she should see the Great Hall (which was the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter movies.) The Hall also has connections to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Carroll was an alumni of Christ Church College).

The Eagle and Child pub is where Tolkien and CS Lewis hung out. George & Danvers sells good bagels and ice cream.
noe847 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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Mr Churchill's and my estates march, as they say (though they're not quite the same size as each other) and I've nothing particularly against him. Even his johnny-come-lateliness: maps imply my house was here before his was there.

But if you want the symbol of all that's worst about Britain, go to Blenheim. Hopelessly out of scale with its surroundings (you should read what Voltaire had to say about it) and stuffed with pompous Baroque stuff they do far better in Vienna, Paris and Rome (but I can't stand that either), it simply isn't English. Its overhyped park might have been innovative at the time - but every municipal park in a non-arid climate, from Melbourne to Birkenhead, now looks just like it.

The estate was given to the Churchills because they were ace brown-nosers of royalty. The perpetrators of the monstrous carbuncle destroyed centuries of real English building - and it's practically impossible to see any traces of the proud traditions, from Henry 2 onwards, of keeping royal floozies there, or of Woodstock as the centre of late medieval monarchs' peregrinations round the country.

Ugly, insensitive, designed by an amateur (and Vanbrugh wasn't that good at his day job as an author: should have stuck to honest trade in Gujerat) and vandalistic in its attitude to what had gone before: amazing it wasn't built in the 1960s
flanneruk is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I agree with criticisms regarding the architectural jumble that is Blenheim. However, if I was 20 I would be quite impressed as it is many of the things one anticipates in a house of this scale.

I would recommend skipping the tour. Just go thru the house on your own, and if curious about something pause and a guide will be along shortly. My favorite item at Blenheim was Winston Churchill's baby curls. Very sweet.

Unfortunately, many young people don't even know who Winston Churchill is, let alone the history of the family. This isn't a real problem as Blenheim can be appreciated just for the spectacle it is.

If she has further interest in the family there are many books available including one by Consuelo Vanderbilt a pawn in her mother's scheme to marry into aristocracy.

Bladon Church where Churchill is buried is nearby and is a humble resting place for one who lived on a grand scale. If she can't get out to any parish churches this one will do nicely as it has some interesting headstones.

The Insight Guide to Oxford has wonderful photos and covers everything you'd possibly want to know about Oxford. Best to order any books on Oxford and environs online before or after trip. Many of the books for sale in Oxford are geared for tourists and offer only driving tours or pictures without much text.

The tourist office offers day trips. A popular one takes you thru Cotswold highlights and on to Bath. Others go to Stonehenge. It can be difficult to get to destinations by train or bus, so these tours can be a godsend.

I am sure your niece will find dozens of things to do in Oxford.

I would also recommend the giftshop as a place to pick up a present for a loving aunt. It is only a smidgeon higher in price than others but has a very nice selection.
specs is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Gift shop in my last paragraph refers to the gift shop at Blenheim.
specs is offline  

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