A Walk through Oxford University Inspires

My walk through Oxford University confirmed the dictum “knowledge is power.” Well, maybe I didn’t feel powerful like a superhero, but the energy from the colleges inspired me. I left with more than memories.

My  journey began one morning years ago in San Francisco when my friend called me to discuss our afternoon plans. He started with, “I just received an acceptance letter to Oxford.” Plans changed.

I offered a huge, hearty congratulations and the nearby hike changed to a trip to the wineries of Napa. We needed to toast with a bottle of bubbly. His life changed. He moved to England. And in a much smaller way so did mine; I planned to visit him at Oxford.

A Tour of Oxford

Many visitors walk the streets at Oxford but luckily I had my friend, Brian, with a student ID to take me around. The ID translated into access, “discounts,” and knowledge. He was the perfect tour guide.

Brian Fahy at Oxford

I am with my friend, Brian who attended St Cross College and now attends Wolfson College for his PhD

He enlightened me that the “politics” college is Balliol College, but it is Christ Church College that has produced the most British Prime Ministers – 13. Actually it is the same number of the sum of all the other 45 Oxford colleges combined. Brian continued and told me the smartest 1 percent(ish) attend Merton and that the impressive Rotunda is the Radcliff Camera. It is a library designed by James Gibbs.

I also learned the largest land owner in the UK and the wealthiest college at Oxford is St. Johns. Plus, our leisurely tour allowed for time in Bodleian Library where I purchased a special journal for my African Adventure. A journal highlighted in my story about the Oxford Sunset.

the Rotunda is the Radcliff Camera, which is a library designed by James Gibbs

the Rotunda

a courtyard in Oxford, England

the grass may be greener at Oxford

Christ Church College

Christ Church was the one must see. And after our tour I agree. It is one of the older Oxford colleges (1546) and visitors really get to see the grounds, enjoy a fantastic art museum and see its impressive chapel. Not all the college chapels are open to the public, but many actually offer access during daily services, so definitely look it up when you go.

Christ Church Steeple at Oxfordgroup photo at Christ Church in Oxford









the courtyard at Christ Church College in Oxford

Also, Christ Church College was one of the settings for the first Harry Potter film.

dinning hall at Christ Church CollegeHarry Potter at Oxford

No trip to Oxford is complete without a peek into the world of magic. Yes, even Harry Potter came to Oxford. A few scenes from the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, were filmed on site. And any walk through the colleges (in my opinion) must include a look at the movie set for the series of books that captured the imagination of the world like no other.

Visitors can find the Infirmary at the Divinity school, the dining hall and stairs at Christ Church and the Bridge of Sighs at Hertford College.

the infirmary used for the Harry Potter film at Oxford

inside the infirmary

The Eagle and Child

After any walking tour, one must be ready to sit down and discuss the adventure over a pint. And one of the joys of any writer visiting Oxford is take that pint along with some pub grub at the Eagle and Child.

Here C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien among others gathered here to discuss their work, offer critique (or advice) and opine on the current events of the world.

I ordered a full English Breakfast and just took it all in. Delicious. And yes, the food did taste better after the impressive tour.

full english breakfast at the Eagle and Child

a full English Breakfast

I also pondered… was I smarter? Did the walk about the colleges and / or having a friend who attends Oxford and is now working on his PhD raise my IQ a few points? Not sure, although having a friend here probably raises my stock in the eyes of others (thanks Bri). And although I can’t prove to you I am smarter today after my visit, I can tell it was a smart decision to come and visit Oxford.

Stay adventurous, Craig

this post is part of the European Series.




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  • CaptainandClark

    Looks like a great tour!  I like how you put the food picture at the end.  If I wasn’t already jealous, now I’m hungry.  :)  

  • http://twitter.com/mrsoaroundworld Ana Silva O’Reilly

    this was such a nice post. it irritates me that i now live under 20m from oxford and have only managed to go once or twice. I shall print this out and follow your route! and will take photos to prove it!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      sometimes it is the close places we visit… I’ve made similar mistakes… hopefully you can rectify it. stay adventurous, Craig

  • http://twitter.com/L_e_a_h Leah Travels

    I love visiting universities when I travel. Some of my favorites include Trinity in Dublin, Harvard, University of Durham (in the UK), Duke University, and my alma mater, Texas Tech. The Spanish-style architecture is amazingly different. Thanks for taking me to Oxford. This will be the closest I’ll ever get to going there. :-)

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

       You are welcome… and I agree Trinity in Dublin was an inspiring place too.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Charu

    I absolutely LOVE Oxford. I visited a few times while living in London…all my favorite authors…Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll…went to Oxford or Cambridge. Balliol has definitely a reputation for politics but I love the pictures of the arches. Visit King’s College in Cambridge for a glimpse of the largest college cathedral in the world…superb!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      I visited Cambridge on my first ever business trip to London in the 90s. I took a Saturday morning train to Cambridge for a few pints, rented a bicycle, and purchased a small painting of the bridge of sighs… I loved it there too, but next time I shall make sure i visit King’s College.  Thanks for commenting. Stay adventurous, Craig

  • http://twitter.com/ilivetotravel Raul

    I visited Cambridge not Oxford and it was, indeed, like staying at a Holiday Inn:  I felt smarter!  That English breakfast matches the breakfasts I had in towns in southwestern England!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

       I agree, you really do feel different… inspired. stay adventurous, Craig

  • http://twitter.com/lazytravelers Lazy Travelers

    i tried to convince the hubs to do an hp tour of oxford and he was not into it. next time i’ll just spout off a few of these facts. maybe that’ll help my cause.

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

       Good luck, it is a worthwhile visit… plenty of places for a drink too 😉
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • http://twitter.com/WorkMomTravels Francesca

    Very cool! I’m a total nerd so I really enjoyed the scholastic facts you included here. I hope to see Oxford one day. It would have to be as a visitor because I’m not nerd enough to actually gain admission as a student :-)  Lovely photos, Craig!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

       Don’t sell yourself short Francesca… we all have a topic or two we excel in… stay scholastic, Craig

  • http://twitter.com/TheWrldWanderer The World Wanderer

    Great post! It’s so nice to have a personal tour guide to escort you around.  That’s how I always feel about Ireland and Croatia since I have family there.  Have to say, I got a bit distracted by your Africa link, though, haha, love all the stuff there too! :)

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

       Nice, there is plenty of stories on Africa on the site… hope you enjoy them too.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Lola

    i have been to London a few times & still have so much ground to cover there. when will i ever get the time to discover the rest of the UK?!?! i really want to, though. this just whets my whistle all the more!

  • http://www.theworldofdeej.com The World of Deej

    I would love to visit Oxford and just poke around for a day…great that you had a guide to do so!

  • travelingted

    What a beautiful University and it looks like a peaceful place to take a walk.

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Great place, I think you become smarter just after walking through… Stay Smart, Craig

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelley.c.miller.1 Shelley Cranford Miller

    My daughter will attend St. Clare’s University in Oxford this fall. Thanks for this great information Craig!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

       Shelley, you must be a proud mother. Congrats. Her life will change for the better. It’s a magical place. stay adventurous, Craig

  • http://twitter.com/jettingaround Jetting Around

    What a beautiful campus! I don’t really get to visit Universities when I travel (Harvard being an exception), but perhaps I should. Architecture is often stunning. 

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      I always love University destinations… and at Oxford, yes the architecture is very old too… most building older than the States… pretty impressive indeed. Stay Old School, Craig

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