Last week, I jumped in the Eurostar with my friend Julie to go back to our little Erasmus home: Reading, Berkshire. Having only a week off before our exams (which I'll have passed by the time this post goes up), what could we possibly do, being the sensible people that we are? Well, spending these seven days on holiday instead of revising seemed - and was! - the best option!
Staying at friends' houses (the three of them were so lovely to have us!) in Reading, we spent some relaxing time walking around the city we called our home last year, but we also took some day trips around the area.
I really wanted to share with you some of the photos I took whilst I was there, to show you where I went and maybe give you an insight if you're looking to travel around these parts of England! I'll divide this little series into different posts focusing on the cities we visited. Let's dive in. First stop: Oxford!
As we had already been to Oxford quite a few times, we skipped all the colleges and the Harry Potter-related stuff. However if it's your first time going, you should totally visit Christ Church college, where the real-life banqueting hall inspired the Great Hall in the HP films. Even if you forget the Harry Potter locations though, the place is beautiful, especially Christ Church Cathedral. Right next to the visitor's exit of the college is the cute Alice in Wonderland shop, full of beautiful items all related to the iconic imagery created by Lewis Carroll.
Our first place to visit was the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford's iconic museum that covers Art and History of all continents and (most) centuries. I loved the part about the Bronze Age in Greece, this is such a fascinating period in Ancient History and yet we don't see that much about it in museums generally. There is also a gorgeous collection of Renaissance and 18th-century paintings, from Italy, the Netherlands and England. If you're into classic museums, you'll probably love the Ashmolean!
We've also visited the Museum of the History of Science (see photos below), which is a free little museum that I wouldn't particularly recommend if you're only staying for a day there. It is very small and features mainly astronomical instruments, so unless you're really into science and astronomy, that's not a major place to see - I'd rather advise you to visit the Pitt Rivers museum, which is the anthropology and ethnography museum of the university. Ever wanted to see real shrunken heads or skulls from African tribes? Then that's the place for you. Or if you're just really curious, you'll love it just as well!
There are a lot of hidden gems in Oxford, little streets and shops all around the city that will surely catch your attention. Arcadia has to be my favourite shop there. It looks so eerie, just as if it were out of a fairytale. The shop sells homeware, vintage magazines and all the things you need to create the perfect springy room decor. It is packed full of beautiful things, and as I walked inside the day I discovered it, it almost felt like a museum in itself, leaving me in awe of every beautiful item you could buy. I didn't get anything, although I was much tempted by the vintage magazines and illustrations!
The Covered Market is open every day, and a great place to visit if you'd like to get some food (there are little cafés and restaurants there) or check out some vintage/thrifty shops. There's also a cake factory there that's pretty awesome, they even sell souvenir cakes - makes a change from postcards!
If you're looking for a place to go just for an afternoon off or for a quick stroll, I'd also recommend Oxford. There are many wonderful sights to wander around. Chances are, you'll actually stumble upon unexpected areas - little did we know that we'd see boats parked on the river when we followed the Thames River Trail! It is also quite fun to try and take a peek inside the colleges, behind those gates and big wooden doors. How cool must it be to be an Oxford student though?
I hope this post inspired you if you're planning on visiting Oxford soon. Have you ever been there? If so, do you have favourite spots to share in the comments?