Our last trip to the UK was over Christmas, and any time we’re in the UK, I try to combine a visit with a little vacay, (or holiday as the brits say). As I recently decided I want to pursue my PhD in the UK in a few years, I decided we would be hitting up Oxford for a brief overnight stint.
One of the best things about Oxford? Location
Oxford is easily accessible by train! Train travel in the UK is nothing like it is the States. Trains are actually faster than traveling by car and they are a nice experience as well. Think of it like Amtrak, but better. Dave and I booked our return trip for around $50 total, and it took just about an hour to get there/back.
When we book train travel in the UK, our go to website is trainline. It is a very user friendly site that lets you put in your destination from any of the London train terminals, which makes it easy to decide which option is the best.
Once we got to Oxford, we were also fine on foot. The train station is a very short walk to the town centre. Most UK towns are quite small and you don’t need a car to get around. We didn’t take a cab the entire time we were in Oxford!
Here is a timeline breakdown of our trip:
Sunday 2pm: Arrive in Oxford. We took a train from Paddington to Oxford, with a quick change in Reading. We had saved enough Hotels.com rooms (definitely sign up for an account if you don’t have one already! It’s free & you collect rooms to redeem for a free night. I find the prices are equatable or better than booking.com) to have two free nights at a hotel so we splurged and stayed at the McDonald Randolph.
The hotel is known for its old English charm. It was built in 1864 and feels very posh. It has multiple restaurants and a spa.
Sunday 4pm: Dinner. As you might have read in another post I wrote, or perhaps you just know the concept for yourself, Sunday roast dinner is a big deal in the UK. Most families make a traditional roast every Sunday, or at least go to a pub to have one. I did some research before we went on dining options and booked our Sunday roast about a month in advance. We went to The Perch, which is actually in Binsey. But wait! Didn’t you say you didn’t take a cab the entire trip Jordan? Yes that is true. Dave and I took a gorgeous 45 minute walk through fields, near the Thames, to the pub in Binsey. It was well worth it, albeit it was super muddy and my vans and I were not prepared!
One of the best investments I made since going back and forth to the UK so often was a pair of mini wellies. I have my tall boots for days it’s absolutely pissing down in NYC, but I found they took up too much space in my suitcase when it was time to pack. Speaking of, maybe it would be good if I did a post on packing! I feel like that goes well with a travel blog.
This is a perfect example of what boots to get. These are not my boots, as I opted for a classic navy in my tall boots and a blue gray in my short boots. If you know you’re going on some country walks, or prefer to be in rain boots when it’s raining, these are definitely a good investment!
The Perch had lovely options, Dave had a lamb roast and I went for a mushroom risotto.
Sunday 6pm: Walk home from the pub. Not wanting to subject my poor vans to any more mud, we decided to take the concrete road home. It was a little chilly, as we were decently into the countryside and it was also pitch black. The UK definitely feels the effects of Daylight Savings more, as it gets dark there much earlier. On our walk back, we happened to stumble upon a driving range. I have never been to a driving range, but I’m obsessed with the idea of going to Chelsea Piers and hitting golf balls at sunset. Even though it was pitch black out and a bit chilly, we decided to stop in and hit some golf balls.
Dave actually did decently, and I was really shit at it. But it was still really fun. We headed back to the hotel, had a nightcap in the bar downstairs, (and pud of course-although we opted for a cheese plate and a sticky toffee pudding, and the cheese plate turned out to be very heavy in blue cheese which is literally the one type of cheese I cannot stand) and watched really bad movies in bed from about 8pm on.
When we go on visits to the UK it can be very very tiring so this was a great opportunity for us to catch up on some sleep and have alone time after the holidays.
Monday was our full Oxford day, where we did our touring and shopping, but that will be posted in part 2!