England

Punting in Oxford, Oxfordshire

On Saturday (the day before Olympic tennis), Peter and I took a day trip to Oxford, Oxfordshire. Oxford reminded me of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. Both are homes to highly rated universities and both felt more European than British.

The weather was great by British standards. It was chilly but not raining so everyone was happy. Peter and I have always had it in our minds that all towns in England are basically the same. There’s the High Street with the same shops and not much else to do as far as touristing goes.

We went full-on tourist and took a bus tour of the city which was a waste of money. I learned that the High Street in Oxford is called, “The High” and that it claims to be the most architecturally diverse street in England. We later walked down The High and confirmed that it is very architecturally diverse. The most diverse in England? I’m not sure and I don’t intend on visiting many more English towns/cities/villages to prove that claim.

I know that the English are very passionate about their history and they have a genuine love for restoration but sometimes I have to wonder if this passion comes at the expense of something greater.

After the city bus tour, we ate lunch and then walked down The High to the river where we found a punt/paddle boat rental company located beneath a beautiful bridge.

We have been trying to go punting since we failed to do so during our trip to Cambridge.

We had three punting options:

  1. Rent the punt and “row” ourselves down the river
  2. Hire a chauffeured punt
  3. Rent a paddle boat

Option 1 was a hard no.

Option 2 was the preferred option but we anticipated a long wait due to the nice weather.

Option 3 was also a hard no because the goal was to go punting not paddle boarding.

Since a chauffeured punt was the most expensive option and since the majority of the customers were university students, we had no issues getting a punt immediately.

Our ride was 30 minutes long and one of the most relaxing things we’ve done in months. We sat in the punt, talked about how excited we were for Olympic tennis the following day, watched the university students try their hand at punting and soaked up the sunshine.

Our trip to Oxford was short but sweet. Will we return? Possibly. If we were only allowed one more trip to either Oxford or Cambridge, we’d go to Cambridge. Cambridge seemed much more vibrant than Oxford, even though it was raining cats and dogs the entire time we were there.

The upside to Oxford is that it is a quick train ride from Maidenhead where as Cambridge is a two-hour drive (and even longer by train). Overall though, both Oxford and Cambridge are better than Maidenhead. Maidenhead just leaves so much to be desired.

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