Last fall, a group of about 15 students (and myself) jetted from Milan to London,then stayed for five days in Oxford, England. The goal? To eat our way through the town. Our two weeks abroad in England (split between Oxford and London) were to be spent devouring the food culture that is England- the pubs, the people, the types of food and how it impacts the United Kingdom, and how it shaped the area.
Oxford is the greatest town I have ever visited. The air vibrated with brilliance and sharp wit. The streets were meandering and shaded, and alleyways beckoned, showing you hidden pubs and tucked away graveyards. A pit where plague victims had been buried was covered in grass and mowed over. The museums were full of amazing things- coins, paintings, beautiful porcelain, jewelry, and naturalia. Well dressed handsome students rode by on bikes while I stared wide eyed at how old the buildings were.
To be short, Oxford was alive with everything one needs to be intelligent. The Blackwell book store has 6 miles of books, so you can read and gain information. Oxford Univeristy and all it’s various colleges are scattered all over, and so the town is pocketed with the brightest minds in the world. Cafes and bakeries hide among coffee shops and restaurants, and so finding a cozy corner to relax in was never a problem. At night, wandering around to the various pubs, drinking hard cider and Winter Pimms became natural.
The town felt instantly homey. I could have lived there. While the rest of the group went shopping on their free time or napped from clubbing at the Kukui, I went to the Ashmolean, drank in the Eagle and Child, hung out on the floor of the used book section of Blackwell, and wandered through the exotic skeletons and shrunken heads at the Natural History Museum. To me, that is the essence of heaven.
I left Oxford with a mind abuzz, a suitcase bursting with 13 new books I had purchased on surgery, the secret to fun, 17th century English poetry, and every other sort of subject a curious traveler might want to know about. I loved Oxford more than almost anywhere else in Europe (maybe besides Zurich or Krakow), and it’s timelessness and intelligence were a huge draw.