England has long been one of my favorite destinations in the world. There is so much more to the country than just London (though that’s a city that should certainly be on everyone’s bucket list!). I was ecstatic when I finally was able to visit the tiny university town of Oxford and was lucky enough to be in England at the same time as one of my friends from Los Angeles who is an Oxford grad – therefore allowing me the “local” tour of the town.
After departing from the early morning bus from London we were in desperate need of caffeine. We paid a visit to The Grand Cafe who claims themselves as the site of the first coffee house in England. After having a proper English tea breakfast we walked to check into our quaint top-story hotel room at The Buttery.
Our first stop of the day was at Quod for a delicious three course meal. I started with a cold soup, had a margherita pizza for the main course, and ended with a blackberry pudding. The lighting sitting by the window of Quod was also on point.
Not far from the restaurant was a true piece of history for the literature world. What is said to be the old dwelling of C.S. Lewis during his Oxford years now boasts a tribute to his work. There are gold fauns carved above the also mystically carved wooden doors. Just down the alley is the inspiration for the famous lamp post guiding the way to the door between the two worlds in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
We spent some time wandering through the cloisters of the New College which also look *strangely* like those within Hogwarts. The college has a unique and historical staircase located on the grounds. If you clap in the spot on the lawn where the photo below of the staircase is taken you will hear it echo back. Some of the nearby streets outside of the college were filled with adorable houses that reflected those in Notting Hill or looked like they were straight out of a magazine.
Located in Magdalen College , we took a brief stroll through the gardens that are said to be where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Toilken would walk together and discuss their ideas (which were clearly some pretty good ideas, maybe I need to walk through those gardens more often!). The college also has a deer field where you can spot the adorable creatures grazing on the grass.
The day was winding down and it was time to step into yet another magical destination. Christchurch, one of the primary destinations for visitors to Oxford, was just shutting their doors for visitors. Luckily, having a tour guide as an Oxford New College alumni, we were able to tell a white lie and sneak our way in. It was inside Christchurch that my childhood fantasy became a reality – Hogwarts was actually real. Our sneaky timing allowed me to snap a few photographs before they shut the doors on the actual Hogwarts dinning hall with very few others present (Sadly, the hall is often covered in tourists).
We then wandered into the Christchurch Cathedral before heading out to the shops. An old print store called Sanders of Oxford held historic maps and prints as well as wooden floors that I was terrified to walk on due to the gaping holes between the wood panels that creaked loudly when stepped on. My favorite gem was a tiny two-story shop tucked away on a side street that had everything from old books to compasses, which of course I purchased and have since used as a prop in multiple photos.
Being in England, the obvious next step of our journey was to hit the pub! The first spot, The Turf Tavern, was hidden away and was clearly a popular location as it was near impossible to find a table. After drinking a pint we headed over to the King’s Arms where we ordered pork scratchings and beers and yet again fought to find a seat as the pub was filled with university students.
To wrap up the day we decided to step it up a notch and have a three course meal at the French restaurant Pierre Victorie. A top university is also a prime destination to listen in on conversations, as we spent a portion of our dinner listening in on two professor’s intellectual discussion at the table behind us. Any Oxford students want to start an @OverheardOxford Instagram (In reference to the well-known Instagram account @OverheardLA)?
Have you ever visited Hogwa…..I mean Oxford?