Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mini Travel Log: Oxford, UK

When one mentions Oxford, the oldest and prestigious Oxford University and the list of famous graduates comes into mind. The old town itself houses the university with various faculties, colleges and departments spread all over the town; or you could say the whole university compound is the town itself; whichever way you want to see it. It is amazing that while you are walking in the town, you are actually walking inside the university. Many old and majestic medieval buildings are actually part of the university itself. Some colleges do charge a visitor fee for entrance and visiting time after 2pm. Famous colleges like the Christ Church and Merton College charge an exorbitant entrance fee of 5 pounds while some lesser colleges do have free entrance. I do recommend you to visit the Radcliffe Camera (restricted access library) and climb the tower of The University Church of St Mary the Virgin to have a fantastic 360 view of the town. You can check out the Botanic Garden east of the town next to the river. For a 5 pound entrance fee, I would suggest you visit the garden only in spring or summer time. As I visited during autumn, the garden was mostly neglected awaiting winter and I still had to pay the entrance fee. The river is alive with boat rides and punting during summer time.

Oxford is easily accessible from London either by trains or buses. Many would have thought it is cheaper and faster by train. But this is not the case. If you choose train option and travel before 9am, you would have to pay 60 pounds for a same day return ticket! Trains after 9am cost 24.80 pounds and it is still expensive. Moreover, the train stops at Oxford station which is actually outside the town and you need another 5-10 minute walk to the town. The cheaper and hassle free option would be the direct London-Oxford buses. Currently there are 2 operators departing from different locations in London. One is the X90 and the other Oxford Tube. You can check out their websites to choose where to board from bus stops nearest to your hotel. I chose the Oxford Tube because I stay at Hilton Kensington nearby Sheperd's Bush. The bus stop is right outside the hotel. The bus runs at a frequency of 20-30 minutes. Ticket can be bought from the bus driver and it only costs 18 pounds for same day return. Journey time is just an hour, which is about the same as train. The best thing is that the bus stops inside the town at the old cinema. You can explore Oxford right away once you alight from the bus.

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Mini Travel Log: Amsterdam, Holland (5)

This was my last working trip to Amsterdam on 777 as I have moved to 380. It was also the last week of summer so I had a nice stroll at Vondelpark. I am a fan of Tesla cars and there is a showroom just beside the park. While you can't drive the car out for test drive, the salesman is very courteous and helpful in explaining all the features of the car. You are allowed to sit in the car and play with the controls. The salesman is also kind enough to offer test drive on his personal Tesla to the countryside if you make arrangements with him before coming to Amsterdam. Sigh...too bad as I do not know when I will ever return to Amsterdam in the future.

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