This is meant to be a short quick guide in case you ever decide to visit Oxford. I've lived here for only two years, and I'm leaving in a few months, and there are tons of things I haven't seen, but here are some of my favourite spots. So if you do drop in, try and look some of these up! I'm also going to try and talk about some personal experiences as I take you through this guided tour! Being a foodie I'm going to begin with that:
1. Chiang Mai
- It's my favourite restaurant in Oxford, it serves delicious Thai food
, is located on the High Street
and if you are planning to eat there, make sure you book in advance. It holds a special place for me because my boyfriend and I went to celebrate my admission into Harvard
to Chiang Mai- it was the worst dinner of my life! We were both grumpy (that's a long story!), and we spent most of the dinner looking over each other's shoulders. So we went back two weeks later, to try and make up for it. The food was just as delicious, but we were feeling much better and the entire experience was completely fantastic. You must try the Tom Yam
soup and the Phat Thai noodles
- they're my favourite!
2. Cafe Orient- Completely and utterly different to Chiang Mai, but if you want a quick Chinese dish that is light on your wallet, this is the place for you. This is where I come to eat before or after a movie at the Odeon. There are two Odeons, incidentally, one on George Street, which is where Cafe Orient is located and the other on Magdalen Street.
3. Tarbouche- Excellent Lebanese food although a trifle expensive for a student budget. It's a nightmare for vegetarians and the amusing thing is that every time I've been to Tarbouche- which is about four or five by now, I've gone with vegetarian friends, who've looked pitifully at the menu!
4. Despite being Indian, I can't really recommend any 'curry' places for you. I don't like the way they make curry in Britain- in fact most of it is so un-authentic that it makes me cringe.
5. Cleo's- Ah, once again, lots of romantic memories associated with this place...but also, it has the best crepes, both sweet and savoury in town. I'd recommend the Crepe Forestiere and the Crepe Summer Breeze but the Crepe Newcastle is worth tasting as well. Again, located just opposite Odeon George Street, it's great for a post movie dessert.
6. G&D's- Talking of desserts and ice-creams, if you're an ice-cream fan, go no further than G&D's. They have two branches- one on St. Aldate's and on Little Clarendon Street. Fantastic range of icecreams- but be a bit careful of their 'people's choice' flavour- I remember they once had vanilla icecream with chillis in it. Rather odd concoctions from time to time. I've spent many an hour there listening to friends pour out their hearts and have done the same in return. The Phoenix movie theatre, which shows independent movies, is nearby on Walton Street.
Ok, let's move on from food to places you could visit. There are places around Oxford that I haven't seen and I really should before I 'go down' (Ok, I am NOT being perverted, this means that you've finished your term at Oxford and you're leaving!) such as Blenheim Palace. But within the University, here are some of the places you might like to see:
1. Examination Schools
- it's the building where we historians have our lectures and where I shall take my dreaded finals in a month or so. It's a fantastic atmosphere to be taught in, an old building with huge portraits on the walls, and chandeliers on the ceiling...and right in the midst of it, over a hundred students are trying to grapple with the question of order in International Relations
- very Oxford and very quaint! It's located at one end of High Street, and I'm afraid I'm not sure whether they allow visitors all the time.
2. If you walk back down High Street you'll come across a number of the older colleges like University College
and Queen's College
. There's also the Queen's Lane Coffee House, where everyone waits for the Heathrow bus to come! If you take any of the lanes on your right, you'll come to some of the other older colleges- Merton
and Corpus Christi
, which has the smallest undergraduate population in Oxford.
3. As you come to the end of the High Street, you could turn left into St. Aldate's or right into Cornmarket. If you walk down St. Aldate's you come to Oxford's most magnificent college- Christ Church with the Christ Church Meadows right next door. Christ Church always leaves me awestruck and it's not surprising that most people think it's undergraduates are the snootiest in Oxford!
4. In case you turn right into Cornmarket, pray that they are not digging up the road again. They've been doing it ever since I came to Oxford and it's a nuisance. But if you're lucky you'll find musicians playing and some entertainers on the street. It's also the site where we held a Bush and Blair wedding last term that was quite a hit.
5. From Cornmarket if you turn left, you'll hit Broad Street. Very broad indeed and a nightmare if you're late for a tutorial and trying to find the shortest route from one end to another. (In case you are- it's down the middle!). It's home to the famous Blackwell's bookshops, Trinity College and Balliol as well as the Sheldonian and the Bodleian Library. I'm extremely fond of Balliol but I suspect that has more to do with the number of friends I have from there, rather than any particular attribute of the college itself. Trinity is pretty, but it's the only college has asked me to produce a 'Bod Card' (the University ID Card) everytime I wanted to enter. I'm not sure if it's the colour of my skin that prompts this question, I would sincerely hope not! The Sheldonian is where we have our matriculation ceremony and the Bodleian Library is my home! If you do have a Reader's card by some stroke of luck, climb up either to the India Institute Library or the Upper Reading Room of the Radcliffe Camera and you'll get a wonderful view of central Oxford.
6. I'm going to go slightly haywire geographically and take you through Magdalen College. My best friend was there last year, so I had an 'insider's' view on it. The best way to enter Magdalen, if you know someone, is through Mill Lane, right next to the St. Cross building. Then as you near the end of the lane, turn right and walk past the stream, through the wooden door, onto Addison's Walk and then look back. The little scene you see, with the stream gurgling by, and the leaves forming an arch, and the little bridge and so on were the inspiration for Wind in the Willows. Then walk down Addison's all the while keeping in mind that it has no lights- look out for the deer, you need to right if it's winter and left if it's summer! If it is dark, be careful, someone I know fell into the stream accidentally.
7. Finally, if you're the sort that likes museums and so on- there's the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers, neither of which I've visited and I keep promising myself I will.
8. If it's a warm sunny day, walk down South Parks road and you'll find a little gate that leads you on to the University Parks, which are perfect for picnics in the summer. The Oxfordshire County Cricket Club also plays some of its matches there and I once saw Tom Moody playing for Warwickshire. If you walk down the straight path that connects Linacre College to the other end of the park, you'll come to- hallelujah- Lady Margaret Hall, which is exactly where I live. As you walk into the Porter's Lodge, look up to your right, and you might just see me standing at the window!!