Incredible journeys inspired by Oxford

If there is one thing that I love as much as exploring the world, it’s probably reading. So I was extremely excited to discover that Oxford had been an inspiration for so many amazing books.

Cherry on top of the cake: it seems to have inspired especially epic journeys involving dangerous travels and incredible friendships. Follow me around Oxford and let’s all embark on a literary adventure!

1) Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

Starting with the most famous, follow me on my Harry Potter filming locations journey! Can you associate these different photos with scenes from the movies?

The Divinity School at the Bodleian Library was used in the movies as Hogwarts’ Infirmary. Looking up, you might notice that letters are sculpted in the ceiling of this impressive room. These letters are the initials of all donators who allowed the construction of the building thanks to their generous donations.

While you are at the Bodleian Library, take a minute in the main entrance and have a look at the statue in front of the building. Reminding you of anyone? He is surely looking a lot like Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, also known as Nearly Headless Nick!

New College Cloisters was used for one of the emblematic scene in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire. Remember when Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret? Well, that was in that exact cloisters!

Now time to enter one of the most iconic Hogwarts location of all: the Great Hall! Even though a replica was created to film in studio, the original location is in Oxford. Just a look at the Christ Church College dining hall is enough to see the similitudes and be transported in the incredible School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

2. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll also found his inspiration in Oxford to create Alice and its Wonderland. You can find reminders of this fact across the city like these miniatures in the Museum of Oxford.

Charles Lutwidge, Lewis Carroll’s real name, arrived in Oxford to study mathematics at Christ Church in the 1850s. If you wish to follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit-hole, heading to Christ Church Meadow is your strongest chance. Foggy and green, I easily understand how the inspiration came to Lewis Carroll!

Interesting anecdote, the real life Alice who inspired the story, named Alice Liddell, was the daughter of a Dean at Christ Church.

3) The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S Lewis

Another epic saga born in Oxford is The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S Lewis found his inspiration, according to my guide, when he left his college one night.

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He stumbled upon these three elements:

A lamp-post, a faun and a lion were all C.S. Lewis needed to bring the amazing world of Narnia to life! The lamp-post being the very first thing that Lucy sees when she goes through the wardrobe to Narnia, the faun being Mr Tumnus, the first character she meets, and the lion being the great Aslan himself of course.

4) The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkiens

Last but not least, Oxford also brought to life the incredible series of The Lord of The Rings. For most of his life, J. R. R. Tolkiens was a professor of English and Literature at Merton College. Having one of the oldest library in the UK, Tolkiens would have spent lots of time reading and studying there to prepare his books.

According to my guide, the twin towers of All Souls College in Oxford are supposed to have given him the inspiration for his second volume called the Two Towers.

So is it a coincidence that all those incredibly epic stories have been written or inspired by Oxford? I don’t think so! If you are experiencing some writer’s block or just want to get some inspiration, you might want to head to The Eagle & Child.

This pub used to host the Inklings, an Oxford writers’ group which included C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkiens, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson. Meeting during lunchtimes at the back of the pub in a room known as the ‘Rabbit Room’, they would read and discuss various materials and manuscripts.

If you don’t feel like writing, it’s still a great place to have some nice food and think about life while feeling inspired by some of the finest writers of Oxford!

 

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Huge Thanks to Premium Walking Tour of Oxford for their great 2 hour-long free walking tour! Starting in front of Oxfam No.17 on Broad Street, at 11am and 2pm everyday, don’t hesitate!

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Aberaeron: Wales Best Place

Seaside resort located on the West coast, Aberaeron, elected Best Place in Wales, is definitely charming and colorful!

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The contest, ran by the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru, is meant to celebrate Wales most protected, carefully planned or improved places. The cute village of Aberaeron came in first position, followed by the picturesque Tenby and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is Gower.

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Visiting Aberystwyth last weekend with a friend, we decided out of curiosity to stop by Aberaeron to check what made the place so special. We took the bus T1 at destination of Carmarthen. After a 40 minutes ride in the Welsh countryside, we arrived in the charming village.

Tiny, is probably the first adjective that came to my mind when looking around. In this season, a day is definitely enough to enjoy the town and see all the main landmarks. My second observations was that almost all the houses around us were painted in bright colors, giving the town an interesting vibe.

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Heading first to the harbour, we enjoyed a nice view of the church connected to the port by a woody bridge. Few sailing boats were patiently waiting for a chance to get back to the sea and the sun was just high enough to give the scene a perfect lighting.

Crossing the bridge and heading to the church, we ended up in the Craft Centre. There, we found a patchwork of different shops (which unfortunately were mostly closed on Mondays). An antique shop, neighbouring a tattoo studio, was filled with tick tocking noises and exhibited amazing  clocks.

Despite my deep hatred for any ticking sounds, I have to say that I always enjoy watching old clocks. In one corner of the room laid a beautiful one, called the Skeleton Clock, its mechanism fully exposed to the public eye hanging in all its beauty.

Continuing our bucolic wander, we reached the river and a hiking path leading to Lampeter. Probably busy during the summer, the path was then pretty quiet. After visiting the Tourist Information Centre and wondering in front of the local artists’ paintings and photographies, we decided to go have a walk along the coast.

Curious about the possibility to spot marine wildlife, I asked the receptionist before leaving if dolphin sightings were common around Aberaeron. She explained that dolphins could often be seen in the nearby town of New Quay but rarely around the village. I guess that provides me with a good reason to come back explore this region of Wales next summer!

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Hungry?
Located right in front of the T1 and T5 bus stops, the Ambassadors cafe is based on the first floor of a souvenir shop. From sandwiches to panini and even crepes, the large choice of lunch items will make everyone happy.  Deliciously fresh smoothies and incredibly big slice of cakes are also on the menu, making the Ambassadors Cafe a perfect place for tea time as well.

How to get there? 
T1 from Aberystwyth, Lampeter, and Carmarthen
T5 from Aberystwyth, New Quay, Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverfordwest