When Eric returned from his business day-trip to Amsterdam, he informed me he needed to be in Oxford today and tomorrow and he’d like us to come along. So we rented a VW Golf and headed approximately 45 miles west to Oxford. It took us almost as long to get out of London as it did to actually get to Oxford. Did I mention there are not well posted street signs or any type of directional north/south east/west postings either? And quite frankly I don’t think it would help because none of the roads are straight and nothing is built on a grid. You really do need a good GPS that speaks the directions to you; and we didn’t have one. But we made it to Oxford after about 1 ½ hours and dear daughter slept the entire was and was out for the night, so that was good.
I am very much a planner and I have needed to let that go here. I didn’t know where we were going, what there was to do, where we were staying and in what proximity our lodging was to the city center. But I knew my husband would have the car and I shamefully don’t know how to drive a stick anyway; and nearly all vehicles in this country are manual transmission. But I remember my college year in Rome and I really think traveling to new places and “figuring it all out” is part of the fun; a little more complicated with a two-year-old, but still fun.
So we arrived at a lovely B&B called Remont Guest House. It has gorgeous, well sized rooms, with a small pull out sofa for the little one and a great breakfast. And located on a bus route to the city center of Oxford, it’s only about 10 minutes away by bus.
I had no idea what to expect in Oxford, albeit one famous university. Oxford houses much more. Today I toured Oxford Castle, dating back to 1071 when it was built for William the Conqueror, it was used as a prison, until – get this – 1996. In 2006 it re-opened into part swanky hotel and part tourist attraction. My two year-old and I had to pass on the 101 stairs to climb St. George’s Tower as visitors must be at least five years old, but at seven months pregnant, I didn’t mind that much. Our guide then lead us to the underground crypt where debtors were once kept, and while in prison, they racked up more debt as they were charged for their food and drink! Needless to say, many were never released.
The castle grounds are quite vast and during the day there is an open air market with live music Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, along with a great selection of restaurants and cafes. There is also a nightly outdoor summer concert series. From what I am learning there are many musical concerts, outdoor theatre events, etc, in the summer months in Oxford; however many I’m afraid wouldn’t be two year-old friendly.
Anyway, I like Oxford so far and it has been a good day – and our first day – outside the city of London.
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