Posted by: marymarthatours | February 14, 2010

Oxford or Cambridge?

Recently an inquiry on the Lonely Planet UK message board asked which of the major university cities, Oxford or Cambridge, someone should visit. “Well, that’s a no-brainer,” I thought. “I’ve been to both, but I’d pick Oxford any day”.

clip_image002 Christchurch College from the garden

I’ve spent a lot of time in Oxford over the years. I had the marvelous opportunity to work on my Master’s Thesis there, befriended by Professor John Day of Lady Margaret Hall. He somehow managed to put up with this visiting American woman who wanted to study an obscure Old Testament topic. I was able to study at the Ashmolean Museum and the Oriental Institute. But the absolute highlight of my many visits to England’s premier University City (fighting words for lovers of the “other place”), was the opportunity to work in the Bodleian Library, thanks to a visitor pass from Dr. Day.

clip_image004 Magdalen College from the Botanic Garden

I’ve also had the chance to explore and enjoy many of the nooks and crannies of the City. On my first visit, I went to an outdoor theatre piece in Magdalen College Meadow and learned how to handle a punt on the Cher (not very well). Every visit included some time at the amazing Blackwell’s Bookstore, and a walk through the University Parks. It was a thrill to lift a pint at the Eagle and Child Pub and sit in the booth where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other Inklings met for their regular discussions. I soon learned to call the establishment the “Bird and Brat” just like the students.

clip_image006 Eagle and Child Pub

I have stayed at both Keble and Linacre, two of the less-well-known colleges. Keble has a lovely chapel, and Linacre a delightful student common room. Christ Church College is a fitting destination for many tourists, but my favorite college is the very old Merton College, tucked away near the Botanic Garden. And I still remember sitting in the Botanic Garden on my very first visit and finding a place of loveliness and peace.

Oxford, City of Dreaming Spires, I’m dreaming of coming back to you some day soon.

For a map of Oxford’s Colleges and Halls go to – Oxford College & Hall Maps

by Mary, M&M Tours


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