Have you ever visited a place and immediately fell in love? Wanted to be a part of it? Believed it was destined to be somewhere you lived later in life? (Now you can see how I can be quite the hopeless romantic).
Yup, that is Oxford for me.
My first visit was March 1, 2015. I took a day trip from London, a new city to explore, why not? I was awestruck at the spires, in love with the side streets and hidden gems, enamored with the University life. I walked all over that city happily in my own little world. The day ended too soon. I never stopped thinking about that day, and I longed to return.
Life happened. We moved to Arizona, then South Korea. Tickets were always outrageous, the timing was never right. My life has been dictated by the US Air Force since 2013, and lately the lack of control has been wearing me down. In a slight moment of weakness (or perhaps was it strength?) I said “F— It” and bought a direct flight from Seoul to London Heathrow. I knew I had to do this for myself, and my god I do not regret it. I needed some soul-searching, if you will, and I found it.
Oxford is beautiful. It is for the nerds, the lovers of school, the writers, the whimsical thinkers, the explorers, and those seeking peace and quiet. If you make a trip to England, you must put Oxford on your to-do list. You won’t regret it.
ENJOY A PINT AT THE EAGLE AND CHILD
This is the pub where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and other members of The Inklings wrote their masterpieces. The building, all original in it’s entirety, has a comforting wooden interior that feels like the comfort of home. Soak in the creative aura that surrounds you the second you enter; it’s almost as if you can picture Tolkien brainstorming his Hobbits and their adventures.
VISIT THE ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM
A hidden treasure in Oxford, this museum has hundreds of pieces dating back half a million years. From Egyptian mummies to modern art, this museum has a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. It’s not a giant museum, but certainly worth an hour or so of your time.
GRAB A CUP OF COFFEE AT THE MISSING BEAN
A fun local cafe in a quiet side street, The Missing Bean easily became my favorite place to grab a latte and work on my writing. Once you’re done, walk down the street to Scriptum and peruse the beautiful stationary.
TAKE A TOUR OF THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY
One of the most famous libraries in the world, The Bodleian Library houses some of the oldest books in England. Pay the six quid for a guided tour where you will learn all about the art, structure, and history. Look familiar? Yup, this was also a filming location for Harry Potter.
HAVE A PICNIC AT SOUTH PARK
Easily the largest park in Oxford, South Park is a vast field of luscious green grass, inviting you to join in whatever activity you may fancy. I was here many times – editing my book, reading, and even buying some wine/cheese/bread to enjoy a little picnic with friends. We watched the sunset over the Oxford Spires, and life felt perfect.
BUY A BOOK AT BLACKWELL’S BOOKSHOP
Although it looks tiny from the outside, Blackwell’s Bookshop has many floors and thousands of books to go through. Enjoy a cup of coffee at their cafe and read about their history, which is also fascinating. I could have spent an entire afternoon here.
VISIT J.R.R. TOLKIEN’S GRAVE
J.R.R. Tolkien’s grave is in a cemetery in Wolvercote, a small village to the north of Oxford. It was fairly easy to get to – I took an Uber there and a bus back. Follow the signs on the ground to his actual grave. Many have left notes of thanks and appreciation. As a loving fan for many years, it felt as if I was visiting an old friend. It was a special experience.
HIGH TEA AT THE GRAND CAFE
If you know me at all, you know I love to have High Tea all over the world, and England is certainly the best place to do so (it was their thing after all). The Grand Cafe provided excellent scones, treats, and champagne. I was in heaven.
WANDER AROUND QUIET CORRIDORS
Do so in the morning before the tourists arrive. Admire the early morning rays as they grace the old buildings. Listen to your feet on the cobblestones, they’ve seen much in their days. Take in the sights, smells, and watch the city wake up before your eyes.
PUB HOP AROUND THE CITY
Oxford, a small English University town, is loaded with amazing pubs. I love to enjoy a good drink now and then, but nothing makes me happier than the ambience of an English pub. Wooden interiors. Framed photos on the walls. Books on shelves. Quiet nooks. The locals laughing. It’s a nice break from the more loud, party oriented bars that one finds in America/South Korea. Spend an afternoon doing this activity with a friend, and if you happen to do so in an English summer you will witness a gorgeous sunset close to midnight.
CLIMB THE TOWER AT THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY
The photos speak for themselves, quite frankly. I will be back ❤
Kisses & Kimchi,