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UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

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Sydney, Australia
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UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford/Windsor

My son and I are driving around the UK and I am filing reports as we go. For those joining us for the first time, you might like to catch up by reading our previous reports on:

1. Cambridge

tripadvisor.com.au/…52456377

2. York

tripadvisor.com.au/…52345313

3. Edinburgh

tripadvisor.com.au/…52446672

4. Keswick

tripadvisor.com.au/…52470295

5. Shropshire

tripadvisor.com.au/…52496035

6. Bath

tripadvisor.com.au/…52575015

7. The Cotswolds

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g186281-i1114-k…

After our morning in the Cotswolds, it was time to turn towards Oxford so that we could have a few hours (too little, I know) to see some of this illustrious city.

We arrived at our accommodation, Parklands, located on Banbury Road. Like all of our accommodation, we had chosen it for its parking facilities and placement on a quick bus route or short walk to the main sights. As we checked in, we came upon another beautiful bride, having photos taken in the sitting room. It must be a peak time for weddings!

This time, we were again at the top of the house, but with only 35 stairs this time - a poor second to the 53 in Edinburgh ;-). We are now pretty savvy: we leave our suitcases in the car until we see the room we have been allocated. If, like this time, it's up a number of narrow stairs, we leave the luggage in the car and just take the few items we will need for overnight and the next morning. It saves a lot of huffing and puffing, and frees up space in the small rooms.

We then hopped on the bus at the nearby bus stop for the short trip into the centre of Oxford. We particularly wanted to see the colleges, and went to Balliol first, and then walked along High Street to Magdalen College. Both were interesting, but Magdalen was much larger and with more areas open to explore. The dining halls of both colleges were impressive, and dripping with atmosphere and history. I really enjoyed the beauty of Magdalen College. The buildings and gardens - with even a stream and a field of grazing deer! - were just glorious. It was also peaceful and uncrowded, with opportunities to sit and just drink in the surroundings.

I found Oxford quite a grand city. I know on TA there has been a recent thread as to which is better to visit: Oxford or Cambridge. I found them very different beasts, although they are both university towns. Cambridge I found more intimate; narrower streets; easier to get around on foot; quieter, somehow. Oxford was more serious; grander; more solid, with wider streets, more of a city feel and many more colleges to visit. Both have their charms, and offer different things. But I probably would give my vote to Cambridge, without casting any slight on Oxford!

We had dinner at All Bar One in High Street, a really delicious meal, for a good price, in a nice place with friendly and efficient service. We then caught the bus back to Parklands. The room, though small, was very comfortable and recently refurbished. The only problem, for me, was poor wifi connectivity which cost me a long TA trip report :-(

After breakfast the next morning, it was off to Windsor Castle. We had pre-purchased our tickets, and those for Buckingham Palace, before we left Sydney. We were aiming to be there in time for the 11:00am Changing of the Guard and had to hurry. Again, it was a very warm, sunny day. We parked in the Romney Lock car park for £3.50 for four hours and then dashed up hill to the castle, as it was already 11:00 am. It was 11:10 when we got to the castle, and I feared we'd missed the ceremony, but a friendly police lady explained that if we stayed where we were on the street just outside the gate, we would have a good view as the guards came marching out of the gates and down the street. And she was right :-)

We then entered into the castle, no waiting thanks to our pre-purchased tickets: the queues were quite long for those buying their tickets, so that was a bit of a win. We then spent three hours with our audio tour, exploring this wonderful place. Windsor Castle was far more impressive than I expected it to be, and I was so glad that we had included the visit on our itinerary. The audio tour commentary was excellent.

It was now time for the last leg of our driving holiday. After 16 days, 1300 miles, £206 of fuel, roads of every size and description, roundabouts, bridges and diversions (grrr!), we finally arrived back where we started, at the Europcar base at Heathrow.

It has been the most wonderful driving holiday. We have seen so much and covered a large part of England, and just a little bit of Scotland and Wales. I have found British drivers to be courteous and patient and the road systems to work surprisingly well.

I think we chose our itinerary well, although I know there are whole areas we haven't touched.

As we say goodbye to our Astra, we have the next stage to look forward to: five nights in London!

We can hardly wait :-).

Oxford, United...
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1. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Great report - though, as you intimated, a day is far too short a time to spend in the city. You know, if you spend longer time in Oxford on your next trip your vote will almost certainly change!!

london
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2. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

awww, shame that you had to hand your chariot back

I'm impressed by your level of organisation, you must have spent ages researching to get everything "just so", and it's certainly meant you've managed so much ... I must take a leaf out of your book when I plan my next trip

hope you're enjoying London ... when do you have to set off back home?

U.S. expats
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3. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Glad you enjoyed Windsor!

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Thank you all, for your feedback :-)

pcw12kcox- I dare say you're right! Probably the extra time we spent in Cambridge made us more familiar and gave us time to develop a "bond". Oxford was very impressive, and the residential areas we drove through on our way in were so elegant and leafy - you have much of which to be proud.

Hello, Caz! Yes, I was sad to hand back our wheels. I know there is a view that discourages inter-city driving in favour of trains, and I'm sure that that has its own advantages. However, I'm glad I followed my instincts and went with the car: the convenience, flexibility, independence and security that it brought really added to our enjoyment of the UK. We didn't try to drive in the busiest parts of the city centres, and made good use of buses and our feet, so I think we had the advantages without the disadvantages.

I did spend a lot of time trying to get things "just right" for our holiday. TA was invaluable, and I did become a bit obsessive about it ;-) I'm sure my husband and daughter, who are keeping the home fires burning, thought the planning was overkill, but it has really worked out very well for us. Most importantly, Tom has had the best time and I don't think we've wasted a second without feeling like we're in a whirlwind.

And guess what- squirrels!! In St James's Park. Up close and personal! And very cute, but just a little bit rattish ;-) They do dart about more than I like, but one we saw yesterday was very tame and approached us for food, but we had not a thing. Today, I'm going to sneak some bread from breakfast on the off chance we come across others.

We leave London tomorrow morning, after five nights, for the Eurostar to Paris. We're there for three nights before our holiday comes to an end and we fly home. I'll try to do a summary post of our London experience tonight, if I can. You have been a great companion on our trip - thank you for your encouragement the whole time. I have valued it.

LauraRW - I did enjoy Windsor very much; St George's Chapel was wonderful - the whole of the castle was, really. Thank you for all the advice you give on TA; I absorbed much of it during our preparations. Greatly appreciated. :-)

Oxfordshire
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5. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

"Oxford was more serious; grander; more solid, with wider streets, more of a city feel and many more colleges to visit. "

Oxford has 38 and Cambridge 31: the difference consists almost entirely of colleges founded after 1950, which practically no-one would want to visit as a tourist.

It's interesting (to me anyway) why you think Oxford's got so many more. Personally I suspect it's because Oxford is just a great deal more tourist-oriented, and has got itself talked about far more in the past 50 years (everything from Morse, Tolkien and Harry Potter, through Brideshead to its recent monopoly on Oxbridge-educated Prime Minsters, US Presidents, Japanese Crown Princes and children of disgraced Chinese political bosses). So the "tail" after Christ Church and Magdalen get much more publicity than their Cambridge oppos that aren't King's or Trinity.

Leeds.West Yorks.
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6. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Thank you Anne for your excellent trip report, hubby and I have enjoyed England/Scotland through your eyes! Safe journey home. x

london
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7. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

I know what you mean about travelling by car, Anne, it's my preference too ... when you go by train or plane you only get a limited impression of the countryside but if you go by road you get more of a feel ... OK you need to get off the motorways but I think you did plenty of that ... trains and planes are fine if you just want to get from A to B in the most efficient manner, but I tend to load up with all my bits and bobs and drive door to door

so glad you got to see the squirrels, they are rather cute aren't they, I love their fluffy tails ... if you go armed with bread expect to be besieged by pigeons and maybe gulls as well

I'll mentally wave you farewell tomorrow ... hope you enjoy Paris and hope we see you back in the UK sometime soon

England
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8. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Thank you again for your reports. It sounds as though you have really enjoyed your trip to the UK and I too was impressed by the organisation it involved. I hope you have some wonderful memories. Hope London was just as good as so much to see and you did get to see the squirrels in the end. I was watching squirrels this morning on my bird table which is now a squirrel table and the newer one a bird table with squirrel proof devices!

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Thanks for your comments and good wishes Caz, Myshkin and Wegetaboutabit. It has been fun sharing.

Flanneruk, I saw on the big street maps in Oxford that there were 45 university colleges and halls, and looking at them on the map, and passing them on the street, it felt as if there were a lot more than Cambridge. Maybe it's the way they are laid out that gives the impression that there are so many more than Cambridge? I won't enter into the quantity v quality debate ;-)

Adelaide, Australia
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10. Re: UK Trip Report - 8th Stop: Oxford and Windsor Castle

Don't know how I missed this! Another great report, Anne, thanks. I've really enjoyed following you on your road trip around the UK. In some ways it was a lot like the road trip my partner and I took in October 2011 - we covered some of the same ground too.

Sorry that you've been having so much trouble with wi-fi connectivity - it's so frustrating losing a long report.

We only spent a couple of hours in Oxford and of course it deserves a lot more time to fully appreciate. Can't wait to hear about your five nights in London and three nights in Paris (we had three nights in Paris too!)

I'm planning our next big UK road trip in my mind, although it won't happen until 2015 or even later (depending on whether we go to New Zealand, my homeland, first). I love planning, dreaming, imagining what it's going to be like - although after a while I have to tell myself, give it a rest! I love the UK with a passion. :)