Friday, May 06, 2016

GREAT VALUE BRITAIN...THE JOURNEY CONTINUES (Day 3)

 
 

 Sneak peek inside Ashmolean Museum
 
Our Great Value Britain discovery journey continued with our departure to Oxford - the city of dreaming spires (a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold). It is also home to the world's oldest university in the English speaking world - the renowned University of Oxford. 

We checked out from Premier Inn and took the tube from Bakerloo Underground station to PaddingtonStation to board the train to Oxford. The London Paddington Station is part of the city’s original railway; now modernised with the addition of the HeathrowExpress service.
Spoiled for choice...the wide range of tempting goodies at Pret
Before we boarded our train, we popped into Pret for brekkie. Pret (short for Pret A Manger) sells fresh, ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads for takeaways or dine-in. The informal ambiance is similar to a cafe where customers pop into choose and buy their food and drinks on self-service basis but the team on duty will warm up sandwiches on request in addition to dispensing hot beverages. Light snacks like veggie crisps, biscuits and confectionery are also sold here.
It doesn't cost a lot to eat at Pret and the food is wholesome, hand-made with natural ingredients. Milk and coffee are 100% organic too. I love the almond milk and hot toastie sandwich I ate for breakfast.
Once satiated, we caught the Great Western Railway train to Oxford – the journey took approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. Upon arrival at the Oxford Station, you can buy the “Cotswolds Discoverer” pass. 


It is a great value, hassle-free way to travel around and explore scenic parts of the Cotswolds by bus and by train including gardens, historic buildings, picture-postcard villages and the pastoral English countryside.
From Oxford Station, it’d be easier to take a taxi (approximately £10 one way) for a quick transfer to your hotel. We stayed at the Marlborough House Hotel (321 Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 7NY. Tel: +44 1865 311321). If you prefer to take the bus, hop onto number 6, S2 from Magdalen Street (Stop C3) to Osberton Road. A Day Ticket by bus costs £4 per person per day. 
Located in a quiet, leafy North Oxford neighbourhood, The Marlborough House was built in 1990. The homely abode was extended in 1997 to offer comfortably furnished, ensuite bedrooms; each complete with a kitchenette, a refrigerator, microwave, mini-bar, kettle and crockery.

About 1.5 miles north of Oxford City centre, it is a short walking distance from Summertown shopping centre and easily accessible by bus and train. Cooked breakfast is served in-room while cereals, milk and shortbread are available alongside self-serving coffee/tea service in each boudoir.  

Since we had time to kill before lunch, we embarked on a University and Historic Sights Tour. We boarded the bus at Broad Street and once seated on the double-decked, open-topped bus, the hour-long ride gave us plenty of photo-taking opportunities.
Passengers can opt to hop on, hop off at designated stops and attractions along the way. There’s also running commentary in different languages – all you have to do is plug in the earphones and listen to it enroute. With so many breath-taking sights peppered throughout the old university city, we felt the tour ended far too soon.
By now we were famished and succumbed to Jamie’s Italian Super Lunch Deal which offered two courses at only £10.95. I was so ravenous, I scarfed down the hearty portion of Tagliatelle Blognese served with herby breadcrumbs & freshly grated Parmesan.
For once, I found ample tummy space to fit in the scrumptious Orange Blossom Polenta Cake with candied fruit, whipped crème fraîche & pomegranate. It was a superb lunch which left us happily satisfied.
After lunch, we visited Ashmolean Museum - University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. Founded in 1683, the museum houses priceless, diverse collections from the world’s great civilisations. Walk through the different galleries to view Egyptian mummies, Raphael drawings and ancient sculptures to contemporary art.
Our mini walking tour of Oxford also took us to popular landmarks including Martyrs’ Memorial, Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs and Said Business School among others.The best thing about these awe-inspiring sights and heritage buildings with ornate architecture is you don't have to fork out a single penny to admire and view them.
Radcliffe Camera
Bridge of Sighs
 
After a brief respite back at the hotel, we walked to Portabello Restaurant (7 S Parade, Oxford OX27LJ. Tel: +44 1865 559653) for dinner. Our private dining menu priced at £27 for a 3-course dinner comprised classic British cuisine using seasonal and local farm produce. 


I chose to go with beetroot cured salmon with pickled cucumber as the appetiser. For main, I opted for spinach & pine nut cakes with tomato & olive salsa. Jennifer went for a steak which I couldn't resist taking a photo of and a bite of it.


The refreshing mango-raspberry sorbet was good enough to fill us up; enough for the leisurely stroll back to our abode for the night.


Travelling from Malaysia to the UK on a budget? Book now via http://www.visitbritain.com/malaysia or visit CIT Malaysia http://cit.travel/europe/united-kingdom to plan your VisitBritain itinerary.
 
COMING SOON! GREAT VALUE BRITAIN Day 4...forays into Enid Blyton's country

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