Oxford is one of the UK’s most popular tourist cities after London for a reason. It is seriously beautiful there and I wanted to share some of my photographs with you.

During the half term holidays I was desperate to make the most of my time off and I scoured Groupon and Wowcher for a cheap weekend away deal which wouldn’t be too far from home.  I found a great deal on Wowcher which was a hotel, dinner and spa break deal for two nights just outside of Oxford.  I have been to Oxford before but it was many years ago so I thought this was a great opportunity to explore the famous University city again and combine it with a quiet, relaxing weekend away from London.

A word about the hotel – the Bignall Park Hotel. A perfectly lovely and comfortable hotel in an excellent location for exploring both Oxford and Bicester Village. We weren’t expecting anything amazing as these deals never are but it was great for what we wanted. The food was really good quality too.

When in a city as beautiful as Oxford it is only right to spend several hours wandering around looking at the beautiful architecture and taking pretty pictures of it.  We took the decision to be frugal and not take a bus or person tour but everything is so central it is easy to get round and see all the colleges and university buildings on your own. I love how they are all nestled throughout the city and the students have the total run of the place! The whole city centre has got a really cool, studenty vibe which I really liked.

Other things worth doing while you are there? Well, I’d recommend the covered market in the city centre for food, coffee or a bit of Christmas shopping. It’s full of unique shops and crafty stalls selling beautiful gifts. Of course, the city is full of ‘University Memorabilia’ shops, which ones are legit I’m not sure but you can get some really nice hoodies and mugs with ‘University of Oxford’ emblazoned on the front. My main tips regarding planning a trip to Oxford would be; do not drive! We were planning to but were advised by our hotel to use the local park and ride. It’s super convenient, costs a few pounds and  removes infinite stress of trying to finding a parking space and then paying £5per hour to stay there.

It really is a stunning city full of culture and history, and is an important city which defines the UK’s image in a big way.  If you haven’t been I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Have you been to Oxford?

Living in London can sometimes be a stress, it’s so busy and hectic and sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.

We have lived in Greenwich, South East London for 2 years and we love it. We moved here when I signed up to Greenwich uni without really doing much research on the area but we are so lucky to have ended up here! It’s close enough to central London and has great transport links into the city but it’s far enough out that it had a calm vibe, with lots of families and students and loads of green space.

There’s a reason why Greenwich is one of the top tourist areas in London. It’s full of culture and history. We’ve got the beautiful uni and Royal naval college (white buildings pictures above) and the stunning Royal Greenwich park and boating lake – one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city. We are also close to the Thames with an amazing view of the impressive Canary Wharf skyline and the o2 arena. It’s an amateur photographers dream!

Perhaps the most impressive attraction in Greenwich for tourists, locals, joggers and dog walkers alike is the Greenwich Observatory and the view from it. On a clear day I would put money on this being hands down the most stunning view in London.  The mix of old and new architecture among the green and the river makes for a beautiful landscape.

Greenwich village is also a wonderful town, full of quaint independent shops and lovely old pubs. My favourite places are The Sail Loft (pub and bar), the Greenwich Market for fresh food and the cafe at the top of the Waterstones for a quiet coffee and a read.

It’s certainly a fantastic place to visit, and an even better place to live. I never tire of it and wouldn’t change it for the world, I am proud to be a south easterner!

xox

One of the more obvious perks of being a full time student compared to being in fulltime work is, of course, the holidays! Travel is my passion, so any short holiday that I get I take the opportunity to scrape some pennies together and go somewhere. On this occasion my family were keen to come too, so me, my partner, mum, dad & brother ended up heading to Barcelona for a long weekend.

I’ve never been to Barcelona before and it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit. As a city break I would thoroughly recommend it although, to be honest, two nights wasn’t enough in my opinion. Due to its harbour location and the proximity of many lovely beaches to the city I would like to go again and actually go for a full length holiday. I think it’s the sort of place you could get a good balance of city sight-seeing and relaxed beaching over a week’s trip.

Having said that I loved to city itself.  I have never really been that interested in ‘buildings’ or architecture, but the Antonio Gaudi buildings that are scattered through the city were truly stunning and even I could spend hours looking at them. His work is so interesting because it looks like a cross between a Dr Seuss illustration and a set from a Tim Burton movie.  Considering he lived 100 years ago it’s hard to imagine how ‘before it’s time’ his structures would have been in his lifetime!

Unfortunately, it was torrential rain for our first day of sightseeing! We managed the ‘Sagreda Familia’; the enormous Gaudi cathedral which is an amazing architectural feat and still not completed to this day, Gaudi’s ‘Park Guell’; an elegant park full of Gaudi’s stunning mosaic sculptures and the slightly less cultural but none the less important ‘NeuCamp’; the famous home pitch of Barca football club!  All of this in the soaking wet resulted in some soggy raincoats and cold feet (I only took flip-flops!!!) but still an amazing day.  The following day we were lucky and had a lovely sunny day. We went up to the MNAC museum to see the amazing view of Barcelona city and went to visit another of Gaudi’s buildings ‘La Casa Mila Pedrera’ which in its day was an enormous house designed by Gaudi for a rich family living in Barcelona and is now open to the public.  Its name means ‘The Stone Quarry’ which has stuck from when it was built the family’s neighbours hated the building and called it that because they thought it looked like an ugly pile of rocks!

For anyone thinking of or planning to visit Barcelona my top travel tips are:

1.  Use the open top tourist bus! A bit cringy for me as I usually like to walk everywhere and it is quite pricy however, Barcelona is very spread out and it would take hours to walk around all the sights! Particularly if you want to get out to the Park Guell, the football stadium and any of the beaches or harbour then the bus tour is a good deal. It includes 3 routes and covers everything and you can by multi day tickets too.

2.  Sagreda Familia (pictured above) – and get there early! My one regret of the trip, we didn’t arrive until lunchtime and all the tickets to go inside were sold out. Even if you don’t want to pay the steep €15 entry fee I would recommend getting there early so you can get a picture outside without thousands of selfie sticks in it.

3.  The view from the MNAC museum (pictured above). A stop on the bus ‘red route’ we actually got off to see the museum and didn’t realise it had a beautiful view over all of the city. A very good picture!

4.  Don’t eat on La Ramblas! The main strip of markets, bars and restaurant with street entertainers and lots of hawkers! Fun and a good atmosphere for walking around at night and having a cocktail not the food = overpriced and yuk.

5.  Eat at La Rosal 34. Seriously, if you do one thing – go here! We were recommended this restaurant by our hotel and you do need google maps to find it as it is out of the way BUT literally one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It has a Michelin star (first time I’ve eaten in a place that has one!) and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s a lovely traditional restaurant serving tapas and main meals and very yummy. We went there two out of our three evenings!  Also not a tourist insight (apart from us).

Have you been to Barcelona?

xox