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A day trip to Oxford

The well known reputation of Oxford to many people would be a city of top universities not only in the UK but in the world, or particularly the University of Oxford. Although Oxford is a small city, it's full of heroic history of education and learning, and you will be immersed in the ancient architecture of church and castle which date back to the 13th century. Besides, one of the special things about Oxford is that most students and the locals here use bicycles as their main means of transportation, making Oxford a poetic and peaceful city by the name "the city of bicycles".


So if you have one day to visit Oxford, here are a few things to do and places to visit:

1. University of Oxford

Oxford University is made up of 38 constituent colleges, which may be misleading that Oxford University is a combination of 38 separate colleges, but that is not correct. These 38 colleges are understood as self governing institution within the University, including accommodation, living and studying places for Oxford students. To illustrate, the way it works is quite similar to what you see in the movie Harry Potter.


 It would be impossible to visit all the colleges in a single day, also only a few of them are open to visitors, so the best way for me would be to choose a few that interested me the most. One of the places I visited was Worcester College, a historical and quiet college located quite outside of the central area. The opening hours here are 14:00 - 17:00. 


After taking a walk to the backyard of this college, I ended up in a very poetic secret garden.

Later on I visited Balliol College. According to my knowledge, this is one of the oldest and largest colleges in Oxford. Tickets to visit cost £3 per person,  and if you have a student card it's reduced to only £1. The castle architecture along with a large campus of Balliol College will provide you a comfortable feeling when walking here.


2. University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Located in the very center of Oxford, University Church of St Mary the Virgin is where you can have perhaps the best view over the city. For just £4, you can climb 127 steps to the top of the church's tower and enjoy the view. However, please note that the tower service is only open in the weekend so there will be a lot of people. Besides the staircase is very narrow so you will have to wait for about 15 minutes for your turn after the previous visitors climb down. 


3. Christ Church


If you are a fan of the famous Harry Potter series, this place is definitely for you. This college  has served as inspiration for many of the world’s most famous campuses—as well as the sets for the Harry Potter films. The ticket to visit is £8, and you can also buy online.


The dining hall that appears regularly in Harry Potter took the inspiration from the Dining Hall here in Christ Church, with long tables placed across the hall and arched windows along the walls. This is perhaps the most visited part in Christ Church so in order to avoid the queue and get yourself some quality pictures, I recommend you to visit the place as soon as you get in this college, or visit the other rooms first then come back to the Dining Hall last. 

On the way to the Dining Hall you will see the Bodley Tower Staircase.  This staircase also appears quite often in the first 2 parts of Harry Potter and its impressive architecture that would surely mesmerize you. 

Another highlight is Christ Church Cloister. It has been used as the background for most of the scenes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone movie. Dont worry if you think you might get lost, at the entrance, you will be given a map in which you could easily be directed to any room in Christ Church.


Dinning Hall


Bodley Tower Staircase


Single visit would not be enough to see all the best of Oxford and the list of places above has summarized what I found interesting and considered as must visited. If you are looking for somewhere to spend your weekend in the UK after a busy week, Oxford must be one of the top choices. Just simply walking around the city and you'll find lots of beautiful corners that only can be found in Oxford, which represents the true soul of this wonderful city.

Phuong Nguyen

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