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Two days outside of London: Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon

Two days outside of London: Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon

Oct 30th, 2006, 05:18 PM
  #1  
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Two days outside of London: Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon

There's just no way to really see London in a few days or anyplace outside of London in a "day trip". Nonetheless, there are two places outside of London my family feels compelled to see: Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon. Rather than take one of those whirlwind day tours, we thought we might take the train to Oxford, spend much of the day, take an early evening train to Stratford to spend the night, do a bit of touring the next day, and return to London that evening. Help me figure out the logistics of this trip.

Is it a good idea? Where to stay and where to eat dinner? Good idea to take tours of Oxford and Stratford in order to maximize our limited time? Things not to miss in either place that you particularly liked?

Thank you so much for your advice.
crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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Or we could start out in Stratford and then go to Oxford. The Elmsley Guest House looks like a nice place to stay. Too bad it looks like there won't be any plays showing while we're there in June!
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Oct 30th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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Your plan is very doable. The Tourist Information Center in Oxford offers wonderful, inexpensive walking tours every day. They are about 2 hours and will usually get you into one or more colleges and some of teh highlights of the central city. Then you can do Christ Church college/chapel and more of the town on your own.

There is also a Hop-on-hop-off bus tour like in London - but I would NOT recommend it. Much of the center of Oxford is inaccessible to buses (and cars for that matter)

Now - Stratford also has a Guide Friday hop-on-hop-off tour. I would recommend that one because it goes out into the countryside to visit Anne Hathaway's and Mary Arden's houses which are fascinating.

If it were me, I'd take a morning train to Oxford, spend the day/night there. Lots of options for accomodations/food. What is your budget?

Then the next day take a morning train to Stratford Upon Avon. If you finish up in Stratford by early afternoon, I'd also dash over to Warwick - the Castle is amazing.
janisj is online now  
Oct 30th, 2006, 05:34 PM
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Meant to add - if you wanted to stay over in Stratford instead, just do the loop in reverse. London > Stratford ( + possibly Warwick) > Oxford > London.

Double check about theatre - I know the RSC is remodeling next year - but the smaller venues may still have performances.
janisj is online now  
Oct 30th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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Thanks, janisj! I'd rather not spend more than 150 GBP for accommodations (since that's almost $300. - gulp!). I will double check on the possibility of catching a show while there. Somewhere cozy or interesting and casual is my preference for dinner (dress up/gourmet gets old to me pretty quickly) and we like all types of food, so anything you recommend will be welcome.

crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 06:46 PM
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You should investigate the LondonPlus Pass for this type of travel.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 02:39 AM
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Be aware that trains between Oxford and Stratford run only about every 2 hours, and require a change at Banbury.

The franchisee between Oxford and Banbury (the truly awful Virgin Cross Country) has a nasty habit of cancelling without notice, of not honouring booked seats and of running trains on this sector that are spectacularly overcrowded. So don't plan your days too tightly.
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Oct 31st, 2006, 04:23 AM
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Palenquebob -
I looked at the website. $90. + $90. + $45. might be a pretty good deal for the three of us (one child) since we would be taking three train trips in two days. Do you book a ticket or just show up when you have a pass?

flanneruk -
Thank you for the warning. Is the route between either of the two to London that bad? We would need to get back to London on that second day to get on the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William.
crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 10:29 AM
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With a pass you just show up and is honored on all railways in Oxford area so no chosing between rail franchises who may not honor others tickets.

Just show up - any train any time - the lines not covered by the pass are heathrow express and trains out of Paddington towards Bath (Oxford OK)

If going into Gatwick pass covers Gatwick Express.

If going Nov-Feb 28 then all passes are 25% off - 'Off Peak' passes.

Not sold in U.K. Marketed in U.S. by RailEurope and agents - as always i highly recommend Budget Europe (BETS) www.budgeteuropetravel.com; 800-441-2387 for their sheer expertise and customer service - also for orders under $200 doesn't charge Raileurope's $15 mailing fee as RE does.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 11:23 AM
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crazy: not sure how you figure pass pricing but here's how i see it:

1st two adults pay full price, then each child under 16 gets a free pass to match the adults. If the kids are over 16 then they qualify under the Party Pass whereas the 3rd thru 9th person traveling on the same pass pays 50% of what the first two pay.

A 2 day (flexipass out of 8 days) pass costs $70 p.p. in 2nd class ($53 p.p. Nov-Febv travel)

A 4 day pass out of 8 days) costs $132 full price ($89 Nov-Feb)

If coming into and out of Gatwick yes can just hop on any Gatwick Express or other train serving London - that could make a 4-day pass attractive (but keep in mind 8 day validity limit)

Pass day is midnight to midnight - unlimited travel on trains in about 100-mile radius of London with a few lines excepted.

To get to Stratford, which is just outside the bounds on the pass you go to the ticket window before boarding train in London and buy a supplemental ticket from where pass cuts off to Stratford and back.

You do have to activate pass once to start the 8 day validity period, then you decide which days of unlimited travel you want as you go along.

Pass also qualifies holder for excellent passholder rate on Eurostar trains - as low as $77 and this 'passholder fare' can even be changed once in Europe up until the time of the train without penalty.

Any questions, call BETS - they will answer any questions in my experience.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 07:06 PM
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I've been reading about the "Oxford Tube" coach service from London to Oxford. It made me wonder if perhaps there is coach/bus service from Oxford to Stratford-on-Avon. I've been looking at websites all day and still can't find the answer. It sounds like a good alternative to the unreliable trains on this route.
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Oct 31st, 2006, 07:16 PM
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It's been several years, but I did take the bus from Oxford to Stratford. I no longer have the bus schuedule but perhaps others can help. I'll try to find a website and get back to you.

The Oxford Tube (from London-Oxford) takes a little longer than the train but is cheaper.
historytraveler is online now  
Oct 31st, 2006, 07:39 PM
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Thank you, historytraveler. Let me know if you find a website for me. Actually, I just compared the coach - Oxford Tube - for 24 GBP (2 adults, child free) vs the train for 15 GBP (with a family railcard). This was for dates in December as it will not let me plug in dates for June yet. I was surprised! When you get a train ticket quote from National Rail, they ask you to "choose a vendor" to actually buy the tickets from and then list about 10 choices. I randomly picked GNER to see what would happen. Is there an advantage to picking one vendor over the other?
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Oct 31st, 2006, 07:47 PM
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The train service may be unreliable but you may find the bus service equally as inconvenient. They (Stagecoach) have made it increasingly dificult to get from Oxford to Stratford, rather than a through service that used to exist. Recently a number 20 to Chipping Norton then a 50 to Stratford was the norm weekdays and Saturdays but Pete's Coaches ran a throughout sevice on Sundays. This may have changed but don't expect convenience when travelling by bus from London to Stratford.
henneth is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 07:53 PM
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Hi crazy4Hawaii,

The website is www.nationalexpress.com
You won't find Stratford on the list of destinations but just type in Oxford/Stratford-upon-Avon and you'll get the information you need.

Sorry I can't help you with information regarding different vendors. Good price for the train and the station is only a few blocks to Carfax(Oxford Centre).
historytraveler is online now  
Oct 31st, 2006, 10:02 PM
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The two competing London-Oxford bus operators (Espress and Oxford Tube) offer a terrific service (though VERY susceptible to traffic jams: right now a problem even at really strange timwes of the day) - but only between these two cities.

Henneth's information about Pete's Sunday/Bank Holiday buses and the general absence otherwise of Oxford-Stratford buses is up to date, but National Express do also run one express bus a day, in addition to the connection at Chippy for Stagecoach local buses.

There are some London-Stratford buses, but they take forever. The Oxford-London train service, operated by First Great Western, is generally fine (just make sure you get the twice-hourly fast train, and not the even more frequent stopping train).

The Chilterm Railways operated Stratford-London train has a good reputation in he are for reliabilty and comfort.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 1st, 2006, 05:05 AM
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Thanks so much, all! You've given me a lot of helpful information. That National Express coach might be a good alternative if their once a day express is not at a time that's bad for us. Now if anyone has some accommodation/dinner recommendations for Oxford or Stratford-upon-Avon, bring it on...
crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Nov 1st, 2006, 06:39 AM
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I might be able to help with accommodation/dinner in Oxford if you would give me more information on budget etc.
historytraveler is online now  
Nov 1st, 2006, 07:23 AM
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I would rather not spend more than 150 GBP per night for accommodations and fun casual eateries are my favorite.
crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Nov 1st, 2006, 07:43 AM
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There were quite a few pubs in Oxford which would meet your criteria for fun, casual eateries. If you enjoy the authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, there is the Eagle and Child. From what I understand, that is the pub where they used to meet and discuss their work. Also, another interesting thing to do around Oxford is visit C.S. Lewis' home, The Kilns. I believe you have to pre-arrange a visit through the foundation. You can get more information at http://www.cslewis.org/programs/kilns/. Hope you enjoy your trip.
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