Oxford unveiled: a journey through Harry Potter magic, culinary delights and punting adventures

Calling all Harry Potter fanatics, traveling enthusiasts and lovers of British accents: if you have the resources and the time, I suggest planning a visit to the beautiful city of Oxford, England.

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

With its captivating architecture and abundance of activities, Oxford ensures you’ll never have a dull moment. Visiting this small city last April was one of the best trips I have ever been on –– and I highly recommend adding it to your travel bucket list. 

During my senior year of high school, I was able to partake in a one-week study abroad program in which a select group of sophomores, juniors and seniors took two courses, “Critical Thinking” and “Public Speaking,” at Oxford University. When I wasn’t learning in the most picturesque college I have ever stepped foot into, I was eagerly roaming the streets of Oxford. 

The architectural style of the city gives you the sensation of being transported to the 12th century. I have never seen buildings with such beautiful designs and character. It was something straight out of a timeless painting — and something that my Instagram followers probably got tired of seeing thanks to the spam of content on my account. 

My group visited landmarks such as the Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Libraries and Christ Church college. The art in the museum was breathtaking. My tour group split into smaller sections to participate in a scavenger hunt to find a list of particular pieces of art in the museum (my group won), and this ended up being a great way to admire all of the captivating paintings and statues the museum had on display. 

As someone who loves to read, it’s safe to say that I geeked out when visiting the Bodleian Library. It is a popular studying spot amongst Oxford students, with its “dark academia” vibe and feature in the “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” I’m sure I would have been much more productive studying there than in my dorm for my psychology exam, but I digress. 

Oxford, specifically Christ Church, was one of the main filming locations for the Harry Potter movie series. While I am not a die-hard fan myself, it was really interesting to see the infamous dining hall — even though it wasn’t technically filmed there — and the Bodley Tower staircase. 

Contrary to England’s bad rap for mediocre food, I enjoyed many of the meals I had. My two favorite places to eat at were the Covered Market and Gloucester Green Outdoor Market. The Covered Market featured all different types of cuisines and restaurants. I particularly liked Sartorelli’s, authentic Napoleon-style pizza. I was born and raised in New York City, so I have pretty high expectations for pizza. I’d have to say, though, I was pleasantly surprised with how delicious it tasted: their margherita pizza made me feel like I was dining in Naples. For dessert, Ben’s Cookies was a fan favorite amongst our tour group. I would describe these decadent cookies as the Levain Bakery of Oxford. 

Gloucester Green Outdoor Market mainly featured Asian cuisine, and it was so good my friends and I went there several times throughout our stay. My favorite was the spicy tteokbokki which I got two orders of the first time I had it. The market also had many vintage clothing and jewelry shops that my friends and I couldn’t help but spend our money at. 

If there is one activity that anyone visiting Oxford should do, it would be to go punting at the Magdalen Bridge. 

For those unfamiliar, punting is basically rowing, except the shape of the boat is different and you use a rod to propel yourself through the water. However, and I cannot stress this enough, please go with one of the professionals that work there and make sure you know how to swim. Punting is a lot more difficult than it looks and considering I found myself hanging from a bridge and three other students fell into the river, I would highly suggest requesting to go punting with someone who knows what they’re doing. That way, you can avoid sitting in a small punt shaking uncontrollably after falling into dirty river water in the middle of April. 

Going to Oxford was the experience of a lifetime. I was privileged to visit a city and university with so much history and character. 

More Articles

Comments are closed.