Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge With Otto
A Travel Blog for Thirty Something Year-olds.
I’m Otto. Actually that is a fake name. I am 30-something. We travel. We rent our house on AirBNB and work remotely sometimes. This is our anonymous travel blog. Its raw and sometimes funny. I hope it helps you travel. Photos and video shot on an iPhone7 Plus.
On This Trip
Oxford → Bath → Stonehenge → Milford-on-the-Sea → Southhamton.
While Gatwick isn’t anything to write home about, I caught some cool lighting walking up to the car rental booths. Boom. Trip started.
Our plan? Hop in the car and cut across the north-west side of London heading straight for Oxford.
For a 30-somthing year old, you only need a day in Oxford. Do a walking tour, the history (nerd alert) is awesome if you are into that stuff (I am). If you are not, the arcitecture alone is worth the 3 hour walk. Here is a random stranger’s POV video of Oxford.
After doing a quick lap of town and an evening stroll we checked in, grabbed dinner, ya da, ya da, ya da and fell asleep.
But wait, you ya da’ed the best part? No, I mentioned the sleep.
We are big into AirBNB, but have also had success finding hotels last minute on Booking.com. We booked the Oxford Spires Hotel for night one, which is just on the outskirts of town. With the time change, we were expired by the time we finished our drive, a few detours and quick walk around downtown Oxford.
We woke up early the next morning. The hotel has an incredible full english breakfast. You pay the price (about £12.99), but it was day one and we were feeling good.
If you walk out the back of the Oxford Spires you hit a path that takes you to top of the Thames River. Along that path are vacant fields owned by the University, keeping a buffer between downtown and the suburbs. As we walked past the frost-tipped grass the sun began its journey out of the horizon.
When you reach the river, you realize just how intense the rowing battles on campus are. In the middle of winter (on December 27th), teams of rowers are on the water preparing for their next race.
As a former NCAA college athlete, I love a good university sporting rivalry. Turns out you can have a great sporting rivalry even if it involves the jovial nerds of Harry Potter’s Alma Matter. Apparently the rowing rivalries are jolly good.
We walked about 15 minutes up the river side to its mouth where you arrive on the fringe of a scattered campus. With the sun still on the rise we got some cool campus photos.
The university has amazing buildings.
While they are uncertain of its foundation date, some say it dates back to the 11th Century! Shit, that is old.
- University walking tour. As a thirty-something-year-old, not traveling on senior citizen bus tours, I hesitated at the concept of a paid walking tour with a guide. Don’t. The guides know (or make up) really cool stories to colourize Oxford. Suck it up and do it.
- Old pubs that Shakespeare (apparently) watched his plays be performed at. One of the more famous ones is The Kings Arms. Go grab a pint.
Another favourite is the Turf Tavern, which was Bill Clinton’s watering hole when he went to Oxford. It was built in 13th century in a spot that was, at the time, in a ditch outside the walls of the city. Now it is hidden in this cool little back alley. Watch your head, it was built for our smaller ancestors.
Bath, UK (Via the Cotswalds)
Having done the 24 hour rip around Oxford it was time to drive the Cotswalds into Bath. We left in the late afternoon for a sunset drive. The drive is amazing with winding roads even Jeremy Clarkson would enjoy.
We stopped for a bite at a tea-shop that had this view (below) off the back porch. With the sun was starting to set we had to make it to Bath for dinner.
Bath, UK (As in Roman Baths)
Roman history is awesome. Think about this, in 90 AD they were all the way up in the UK slaying the locals. When taking a break from the pillage of the village they were building bath houses around natural hot springs. Fuck that is cool.
The bath houses look like this (although reconstructed/modified).
Pandering to the tourists spas scatter downtown Bath mingled in with old buildings. By far the most popular is the Thermae Bath Spa.
I not a spa guy, but I couldn’t pass up the roof top hot tubs and steam rooms overlooking the city.
If its a nice day, spend a couple pounds and also make your way up to the top of the Bath Abbey for a tour of the bell tower. You can also walk along the roof and get some great aerial views.
This photo (below) is looking down from the top of the abby into the Roman Baths. In the top right you can also a bit of the Thermae Bath Spa’s rooftop hot tub. Do the Abby first and catch sunset from the Thermae Bath Spa.
Bath is also a great spot to walk around downtown. There are cool little shops on main street and nice parks down by the river.
Below is a shot of the residencs on the top of the hill leading down into Bath. Worth the walk up get a sense of what the local life is like.
WARNING: Massive tourist trap and probably something you can skip if you are a 20 or 30 something year old.
The scenic route driving south out of Bath is incredible. Its a hilly drive that flattens out as the Cotswolds end. There are great small towns to grab fish and chips or bangers and mash.
Once you are out of the Cotswalds and hill country, the drive is less intersting as you approach Stonehenge.
Is Stonehenge cool? Sure, I guess. Is it worth going out of your way to see it. Probably not.
The pile of rocks is at the side of a highway in a farmer’s field. When you arrive, you get to a visitor centre, pay a bunch of money, get on their bus and drive 5 minutes.
They dump you in the farmers field and you do a 360 degree walk around the rocks with hundredres of other people.
That said, it is impressive these old fuckers managed to put the rocks in a cool pile (espcially since it was 2700 B.C.!) but you lose interest pretty quickly after you get your money shot (see above).
The vistor centre has some videos and information but we skipped that and wheeled out of town. Google it when you get home. We wanted to save some sunlight for the drive to Milford-by-the-Sea.
We did a quick detour down to Milford because the drive through New Forest National Park was supposed to be cool. We also wanted to look out across the English Channel. But…fog.
The trip to Milford was ok. It has scenic moments but if you are on a tight timeline, skip this too. Here’s a photo of the drive in Milford.
We decided to stay in Southhampton just because we didn’t have time to make it back to London.
Resorting back to Booking.com we found an old mannor house that had been converted into a Best Western. It made you feel like you came from royal English blood. Cherio chaps, send in jeeves to clear the plates.
Check back soon for London.