Gadabout's Corner

Bird of passage

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OXFORD on Foot: Must Do’s List

Matthew Arnold addressed the amazement of Oxford in his Thyrsis way back in 1865 in which the beauty remains until today, despite over 150 years later.

Oxford is probably the best city to represent the civilization of the Victorian Era, with early establishment back in the 12th century. The result is an architectural masterpieces that keep inspiring artists, writers, fantasists and we travellers for years.

Every corners of this city is awakening, so it’s best to take your time and explore it at your own pace and on foot. Please, let me show you how you could easily wander around Oxford, from my own experience.

How to get there from London?
Must Do’s List (On Foot)

Exploring and covering the whole major scenes in Oxford takes time, not because it’s big but because you’ll stop and be amazed by what you see every 5 minutes.¬†I’d suggest you use this list as a guide, because it’s organized by putting places in the same area together.

I. Magdalen College
  • Punting along River Cherwell
  • Addison’s Walk
  • Magdalen Chapel
    • Daily from 1PM – 6PM
    • Daily from 10AM – 7PM in Jul – Sep
    • Admission fee: 6¬£

Let’s start by heading East toward the farthest spot; the Magdalen College. Once you arrive here, the first thing you could do is punting along the River Cherwell, which you can hire from the Magdalen Bridge. You could also keep going to the Addison’s Walk, which is a trail that goes around a small island that is surrounded by the river. From Addison’s Walk, you’ll be able to see the Deer Park, the Magdalen Tower¬†and the Magdalen Bridge.

After this, you might wanna have look around the College’s buildings and spend some time at the Magdalen Chapel.

II. Queen's Lane to Catte Street

Radcliffe Camera

  • Queen’s College
  • University Church of St Mary the Virgin
    • Mon – Sat from¬†9.30 AM – 5PM
    • ¬†Sun from 1PM – 5PM
    • No entrance fee
    • 4¬£ to climb the tower
  • All Souls College
    • Mon – Fri from¬†2PM – 4PM
    • No Entrance fee
  • Radcliffe Camera
  • Hertford College
    • Daily from 2PM – 4.30 PM
    • No entrance fee
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Trinity College
    • Mon – Fri from 9AM – 4PM
    • Sat – Sun from 1PM – 4PM
    • Admission fee: 3¬£
  • Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre

Five minutes walking from Magdalen College, you’ll ended up at the Queen’s Lane and the first thing you could see is the elegance Queen’s College. You could only go inside if you make an appointment in advance at the Visitor Information Centre. It’s free!

Then from Queen’s College, keep walking along the High Street and you’ll see the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. At this church, you could go on top of the tower and get the best view of the Radcliffe Camera.

After that, turn right to the Catte Street and you’ll be at the Radcliffe Square, where there are so many things to see; All Souls College, Codrington Library, Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, Hertford College and its Bridge of Sighs.

All Souls College

From Bridge of Sighs, you might wanna turn left to Broad Street and check out the Trinity College and the Sheldonian Theatre.

III. Turl Street
  • Exeter College
    • Daily from 2PM – 5PM
    • No entrance fee
  • Brasenose College
    • Mon – Fri from 10AM – 11.30 AM
    • Sat – Sun from 9AM – 10.30 AM
    • Admission fee: 2¬£
  • Covered Market

From Broad Street, turn left onto Turl Street, then take another left to Brasenose Lane and stop at the Exeter College and maybe have a look inside their Dining Hall and the Chapel.

After that, make your way to Brasenose College and have a look around the Covered Market. There, you could buy souvenirs, and get some food.

IV. St Aldate's Street
  • Alice’s Shop
    • Daily from 10.30 AM – 5PM
  • Christ Church Meadow
  • Christ Church College
    • Mon – Sat from 10 AM – 4PM
    • Sat from 2PM – 4PM
    • Admission fee: 7¬£ – 9¬£
  • St Aldates Church
  • Carfax Tower
    • Daily from 10AM – 4.30 PM
    • Admission fee: 2¬£

View from Carfax Tower

From the market, get yourself to St Aldate’s Street and you might want to make your way down first so you could slowly make our way back up.

Continue the street until you reach Alice’s Shop. This is the place that inspires Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland way back over 150 years ago. It’s right next to the¬†Christ Church Meadow, which is a perfect resting place.

From there, you could make your way up¬†by visiting the Christ Church College and have a look inside their Dining Hall, which is the same one as the Hogwart’s. You also don’t wanna miss the Christ Church Cathedral and the Tom Tower. Then you cross over to Christ Church Cathedral School and St Aldates Church.

Keep walking along St Aldate’s Street until you see Carfax Tower on your left. You definitely have to climb this tower as it will give you one of the best Central Oxford skyline view.

V. Cornmarket Street
  • St Michael at the North Gate
  • St Mary Magdalen
  • Martyrs Memorial
  • Gloucester Green Town Square
  • Wesley Memorial Methodist Church
  • Nuffield College
    • Mon – Fri from 9AM – 5PM
    • No entrance fee
  • Oxford Castle
  • Castle Mill Stream

From Carfax Tower, take the exit to Cornmarket Street and keep walking until St Michael at the North Gate is by your right. Not too far, you’ll also see St Mary Magdalen and Martyrs Memorial.

From there, turn left onto Beaumont Street and left again at Gloucester Street. If it’s Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday, you definitely have to check out the Gloucester Green Town Square. During these days, there will be the open air market that sells everything! If you can’t find it, it’s exactly where the National Express Bus Station is.

From there, you should keep walking along New Inn Hall Street and stop at Wesley Memorial Methodist Church. Next, walk toward the Nuffield College, explore the Castle Mound until you reach the Oxford Castle.

From the Castle, turn into Tidmarsh Lane and find the Hythe Bridge. By the bridge, you’ll see a small walking trail that will allow you to walk next to the Castle Mill Stream in which you can choose to turn or stop however you want to. This trail is wonderful! It’s a perfect place to relax and call it a day.

Where to eat best pub meal?

A lot of walking will be done, so there will be a lot of eating as well. Here is the list of where you should eat in Oxford.

  • The Eagle and Child
  • The White Horse
  • Turf Tavern

Where to stay?

  • YHA Hostel
  • Airbnb
    • Unique Artist’s Riverside Studio
    • Narrowboat on idyllic Oxford Canal (Ben the Boat)

 

 

 

 

 

MALDIVES on a Budget: Malé City and Non-resort Islands

Maldives is one of the luxurious destinations for holiday. I’m lucky to be able to say that there’s one big tick off my bucket list. However, I guess many of us could agree that one of the factor holding us against this dreamy place are those bills. It’s expensive!

BUT it is possible to stay in Maldives on a budget, which is a better way to explore the Maldivian culture together with its great scenarios. You can do this by living with locals and explore places where Maldivians go.

Malé City

Apart from being the capital city of Maldives with probably more Maldivians than anywhere else, it is also the easiest place to go¬†after arriving at the Hulhul√© Airport. The most convenience way to go to¬†Mal√© from the Airport is by Airport ferry service. To travel to other islands, it is fairly cheap and easy to use local’s Dhonis that departs from various jetties, depending on your destinations.

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The city itself is not very big. It is possible to slowly explore the whole city by walking. I’m not the best walker and I spent about 3 hours walking around the whole town, stopping at small groceries for some drinks and at some souvenir shops for small shopping sessions. Apart from saving some money, it’s also a good way to see around. It is possible to get a taxi, which is not too expensive. It shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to get anywhere within the city despite the traffic. The maximum price for each journey is about 4 US dollars if you need bigger car for your luggages.

Places to visit in Malé City
  • Islamic Centre and The¬†Grand Friday Mosque
    • Free entry
    • Open 24 hours, except prayer times
  • Hukuru Miskiiy (The Old Friday Mosque)
    • Free entry
    • Open 24 hours, except prayer times
  • Medhu Ziyaaraiy Shrine
    • Free entry
    • Open 24 hours
  • Maldivian Royal Palace, Sultan Park and National Museum
    • Entry: 100 RF
    • Sunday – Thursday
      • 10 am – 5 pm
  • Parliament
  • Local market
  • Fish market
  • Souvenir shops
  • Artificial beach

Islamic Centre is probably the first attraction you’ll see because it’s right by the¬†main jetty and you can’t really miss the¬†golden domes standing out among other buildings. Inside this beautiful architecture, you’ll be amazed by the ancient vibe from old calligraphy. It’s a house of the Grand Friday Mosque, which is one of the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia. It also houses conference hall and Islamic library.

Hukuru Miskiiy or the Old Friday Mosque is one of the oldest mosque, made of wood and coral stone. It’s filled with ancient tombstones of nation’s heroes like sultans and nobles.

Medhu Ziyaaraiy Shrine is a small white and blue tomb of Abdul Barakat Yoosuf Al Barbary, who brought Islam to the country.

National Museum is a very interesting place. This museum carries many objects that I’ve never seen before and many of them I don’t even know what they are for. I believe it’s because I don’t get a chance to learn or see much about things related to Sultans and I do believe it’s not a common thing for many other tourists as well. The museum is located inside the Sultan Park, which also houses Maldivian Royal Palace. The palace¬†was an official residence of the President of the Maldives.

Meanwhile wandering along the waterfront, keep an eye out for the Parliament. It’s an elegant architecture that faces the shore, directly to the crystal clear water of the Indian Ocean.

Local Market is probably the best place to visit in the morning maybe before your journey to other islands as it’s only few minutes away from Ferry jetty and maybe you want to get yourself some snacks for the trip. There are various fruits and veggies I’ve never seen before and there are some good jams, nuts and dried meats to try. It’s a good place to localize yourself with local products and people’s routines.

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Right in front of the Local Market is the Fish Market, where it’s a lot more energetic. There are people constantly carrying big tunas or basket filled with fish walking around, telling you to mind their way or trying to do some business with you. It’s obviously not as quiet as the Local Market. Also, just across the street, there are local Dhonis parked and awaited. It’s a beautiful spot to take some photos of the colorful boats with blue background.

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If you want to get some gifts or buy some local arts and crafts, I would recommend going to Majeedhee Magu or Chaandhanee Magu. These are streets where there are lots of souvenir shops to buy yourself some cute little dhonis or coconut chocolate.

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Lastly, I don’t think you can miss the Artificial Beach, as it’s the place where you’ll find locals hanging around, eating, skating or exercising. In some mornings, there would be a group of ladies doing the water aerobics. Also, there is a place for you to shower, which can be really convenience if you already checked out of your accommodation and you just want to freshen up a tad.

However, it’s is really important to respect these places and their people. Remember to dress conservatively while exploring the city.

Local Islands
  • Himmafushi
  • Dhigurah
  • Maafushi
  • Mahibaadhoo
  • Dhiffushi
  • Villingili
  • Thilafushi

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These are some of the islands where local people go to enjoy the breeze and water. They are reachable by ferries or speedboat services. It’s important to check the service’s schedule. However, some of the islands are for living, while some of them are specifically for holidays.

Villingili is one of the later type of islands. It’s probably the easiest one to go from the city. You can easily go there by local ferry service and it runs¬†frequently. It’s where you can be relaxing or be more excited with some water sports and activities. You could enjoy jet skiing, paddle boarding, banana-boating, windsurfing or even flyboarding and many more. The one I went to is at the One Love Beach and the people there are really nice. They even teach you if you are not familiar with these activities.

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Thilafushi is a very interesting one. It’s an artificial island to serve as the country’s landfill. It’s Maldives’ bin. If you decide to go there, make sure you have a scarf or something that would protect you from directly breathing in the strong smell.

Homestay with Airbnb

One of the best way to get a place to sleep, eat local food and enjoy fun activities within a budget is homestay. There are many options available on Airbnb. There are chances you might be able to participate in their activities like cooking or even fishing.

Sleeping at the Airport

If you are going sleep at the Airport, maybe because you just want to save some money for a night or because you landed late, here are what you will need to know:

  • no bed
  • no air-conditioning
  • no shower
  • mosquitoes
  • shops for food and drink do not open 24 hours
  • luggage storage
  • spa

I spent a night sleeping at the Airport and it wasn’t bad. There are 24 hours security and there is a place where you can pay to store each of your luggages. If you fancy a shower, you will have to pay the spa shop. If you want to grab some food but the shops are closed then you might want to take a ferry to the city and grab something from there. Lastly, use insect repellent as there are flies and mosquitoes.

Now that you know the cheaper way to do it, I hope that you are motivated to go there, otherwise go on Instagram and search for pictures of cute couple showing off their tan that pop against the white sand beach.

 

 

 

 

 

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