I spent the day away from my desk and dissertation. My boyfriend was staying in Oxford for a few days, and thought to give him a visit. I've never been to Oxford before. I kept on thinking I have, but I was mistaking it for Cambridge.
I had two hours to spend on my own in Oxford before Leo finished his work. It was so easy to get to there from Coventry. Only 40 minutes on the Cross Country train - but Christ, that was a busy train.
Got off the train about 3 pm. Picked up a map. Left the station. It felt like I was being watched. Reenacting the last moments you see a girl go missing, her last visible movements on CCTV at the train station before she's gone forever.
Luckily I'm not gone forever. Still here!
So I followed the crowd. Everyone seemed to walk in unison towards the centre. When I saw Nando's and Giraffe. I knew I was getting to the centre.
There were tonnes of people sightseeing. Am I tourist too? I'm not from this city and it's the first time I've been here. Feels odd to say I am when in fact I'm from the same country. Does this count as a 'staycation'? Please tell me it does as I'm ready for a holiday.
I checked my map again, apparently I reached the heart of Oxford. With a heavy backpack and avoiding to spend any money on attractions. I thought I'd give myself my own walking tour.
I think I'd like to live in a city like this. Minus the students who attend the prestigious university. I was quite surprised to see how they dress. When did posh people become hippies? I thought the Oxford students dressed preppy! Is preppy too 2008? Seems like Gossip Girl and The O.C era is dead. They wore wide frame glasses and tatty patterned fleeces. Shoes that looked like they've been through a war. At war with the concrete they scurry along to get to their lectures. Or at war with consumerism, perhaps?
It was so busy right in the centre. It made me wonder, why do I find Oxford uncomfortably busy but London homely? I love London's hum of busy streets. Maybe because I know where I'm going. Maybe because it is home. And anything bad that London has to offer I shove it under the carpet.
I decided to have a beverage. Intentionally it was going to be a coffee. Intentionally I wanted to buy it from an independent coffee shop. Why be anywhere in the country and go to Starbucks or Costa? I searched for quiet coffee shops that looked pretty. Then I searched for pretty coffee shops. Then I searched for coffee shops. Right in the middle of the city it's harder to find coffee shops as it is over crowded with pubs and restaurants.
Pubs. Ah. I did fancy a beer for a spilt second. Maybe a girly strawberry cider. That would soothe my tired shoulders and sweaty back. The true Englishman came out in me. A pint was what I needed.
I found a cute pub by the river. Perfect. Then I thought about how much a pint would cost in a city like this and by a river. Mm, not so perfect anymore. I'm still a student at the end of the day.
Back to finding a coffee shop! I found one or two. But then I realised I shouldn't be having any dairy. Most coffee shops charge an extra pound or at least 80p for non dairy add ons. And I know that chain coffee shops don't. So I went to Pret A Manger! Sorry to all the coffee shops I missed out on. I'm still a student at the end of the day!
Alas. My soya mocha and kindle in hand. Could I get anymore hipster?
My backpack was off my sweaty back. I sat by the window which faced a small and archaic church. This will do.
After about 45mins. Still sipping on my soya mocha because I ain't buying anything else here! Leo said he was on his way. We take the luxury of internet on our phones for granted. Leo and I didn't have any data left on our phones. So we had to find each other the old skool way.
'Meet me at Nando's!'
The most romantic meeting spot you could think of.
I dragged Leo into a hotspot I passed two hours ago. We had a cool cool beverage. Finally sipping on my girly pint. We talked about our week so far then went on another stroll around Oxford. We managed to find a beautiful road called Holywell Street. This road led us to an even more beautiful place. Well-hidden narrow alleys called St. Helens Passage. A few pubs squatted here. Tucked away from the bustling city centre. It was so adorable. Historical too! But what isn't old and classical in Oxford? William Morris's and Dante Gabriel Rossetti's wife (née Jane Burden) was born here! Also, check out what Bill Clinton "allegedly" got up to. So peaceful and pleasant. It was that kind of place Americans would picture England to look like.
After this stroll, and falling in love with Oxford more and more. It was time for dinner. But before we stuffed our gobs, we found a rooftop bar that made delicious and unusual cocktails. Sitting right at the top of the building looking over the University buildings, we couldn't have had a more perfect evening than this. For dinner we decided Turtle Bay. It would have been our fourth time there but it still excites us!
I ended off the evening with a sore feet, a belly full of goodness, and a new love affair - Oxford. Sorry London.