Saturday, May 7, 2016

#OMGB Great Value Travel to London – Day 3


Pret A Manger, Oxford, Jaime’s Italian, Ashmolean Museum, Portabello Restaurant, Marlborough House Hotel


Day 3 Summary

  • Breakfast at Pret A Manger
  • City Sightseeing Oxford Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
  • Lunch at Jaime’s Italian Restaurant
  • Visit Ashmolean Museum
  • More Sightseeing in Oxford City
  • Dinner at Portabello Restaurant
  • Rest at Marlborough House

Barely 6am and we were up early on our third day. We needed to get an early start since we were going to catch the early train to Oxford that morning. Since it was Good Friday, London seemed more quiet than usual this morning. We decided to skip our hotel breakfast that morning and headed over to the train station early.


We took the tube from Bakerloo Underground Line to Paddington Station where we would switch and take the Great Western Railway (GWR) train that goes to Oxford.


Train ride is estimated about 58 minutes one way. Used to be known as the First Great Western, the new GWR trains are very comfortable. There’s free Wifi on board so that should keep everyone busy or just enjoy the view of the outskirt of London.

For more information on the train schedules and fare, visit www.gwr.com





Pret A Manger

While waiting for our train, we had some time to sneak in a breakie. Spotted Pret A Manger (Pret), London’s famous sandwich bar that is available all over the city. Even if you are not a sandwich fan, you are so going to enjoy Pret A Manger. Healthy, wholesome and natural food that packs in your nutrients for the day, Pret has such a tantalizing spread of sandwiches, hot toasties and pastries, salad, fruits, nuts and even sushi along with that much needed cup of joe and juices which are also organic.


The breakfast spread was simply amazing and I had a long moment in deciding which one I want. I finally settled for a hot sandwich of Ham, Cheese & Mustard Toastie. It was indeed superb and just what I needed that morning. The salty and moreish slices of Wiltshire-Cured ham with oozing hot melted Croxton Manor Matured Cheddar cheese and zingy mustard certainly powered up my day together with the organic Beet juice. If only they would have such sandwiches here in Malaysia…


I was also eyeing this scrumptious Cheese Pastry that someone else had and since it was nicely warmed up, that pastry was so good that the other person went back in to get a second one!

PRET A MANGER
Paddington Station, Platform 1
Unit 26, Platform 1 Paddington Station London,
United Kingdom W2 1HB
TELEPHONE: 02072629784





And we’re off…







Oxford


We arrived at Oxford Railway station and was greeted with the most gorgeous blue sky ever! The train station wasn’t big but it had a few nice stores in it. There is a Marks & Spencer grocery store which I managed to do a little food shopping there.





As soon as you walked out of the station, there are plenty of public transportation right in front of the station as well as cabbies. One can even sign up for the City Sightseeing Oxford Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour right in front of the train station.



Bicycles seemed to be a favorite transport at Oxford as the train station was filled with them.


From Oxford station, we decided to take a taxi (approximately £10 one way) to our B&B at Marlborough House Hotel to drop off our luggage. The other option would be to take the bus number 6 (Bus Stop S2) from Magdalen Street (Bus Stop C3) to Osberton Road. Day ticket by bus is £4 per person per day. More about our bed & breakfast at the end of the post.

After dropping our luggage off, one take opt for a taxi again or simply take bus number 18 from (Bus Stop S2 or S3) from Squitchey Lane to George Street (Bus Stop A1). Day ticket by bus is £4 per person per day.



Ask what is famous in Oxford many will tell you it’s distinguished and internationally renowned Oxford University as well as other universities. Oxford University is the oldest university in the English speaking world. It is made up of 38 independent colleges and their quads and buildings can be found all over the city.



Magnolias were in bloom while we were there and they were just absolutely stunning with its beautiful pastel pink and white against the blue sky!



While waiting for some time before lunch, we decided to take the City Sightseeing Oxford Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour to catch a glimpse of Oxford city. We opted for the Red Route of the City & University Tour which was approximately 60 minutes.





The ride covers lots of famous places such as Oxford University, Christ Church Cathedral, Carfax Tower, The Queen’s College, Sheldonian Theatre, Bridge of Sighs, Radcliff Camera, Bodleian Libraries, Martyrs’ Memorial, Ashmolean Museum and many more universities, colleges, city shopping centers and so forth.





The tour runs every half hour and it has fully comprehensive tour transmitted up to 11 languages on the double decker open air bus. Take the top deck to enjoy the full experience of the sights at Oxford!








Jaime’s Italian Restaurant


I have been to London twice and I am glad that both times, I got to enjoy a meal at Jaime’s Italian Restaurant. Don’t worry that a meal at Jaime’s might be too costly if budget is your constraint. There are ways to enjoy a good meal if you check out that restaurant in advance.


Jaime’s Italian Restaurant on George Street actually offers a Super Lunch Deal of two courses at only £10.95 or three course for £12.95. The Super Lunch Deal is available Monday to Friday from 12noon to 6pm so always make sure to check any restaurants you like in advance and visit them during lunch for some savings.

This outlet was very busy and we were glad that they could actually fit us in as we were only supposed to dine there the next day. The restaurant has two floor seating and we got the one near their kitchen so we were glad to catch some kitchen actions as well.


While waiting for our table, I couldn’t resist looking at the fresh coils of curly pasta being churned out in batches. They are so pretty…


For the Super Lunch Deal, just select any of the two courses you like whether it is an appetizer, main or dessert. I opted for the appetizer of Frito Misto and main of Tagliatelle Bolognese. The lightly battered fish and squid was crispy and went well with the garlic and lemon aioli while the pasta was pretty hearty and delicious.

I didn’t order dessert but definitely should have after I tried Alice’s Orange Blossom Polenta Cake and Ryan’s Epic Brownies. Both desserts were just out-of-this-world!


Jaime’s Italian Restaurant
24-26 George Street,
Oxford OX1 2AE
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1865 838 383






Ashmolean Museum



After lunch we visited the Ashmolean Museum, the world’s first university museum. Part of the University of Oxford, it was built in 1683 to house the collection that Elias Ashmole donated to the university. The museum’s famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time. Open to public after a major renovation in 2009, the exhibits now includes new galleries of Ancient Egypt and Nubia.


I was captivated by the Romans and Greeks sculptures as well as the historical artifacts of Egypt and Nubia as I strolled around the museum. My only gripe would be to have more time in this museum as there are just so much to see. While we were there, there was also an Andy Warhol exhibition on display. Admission is free.





Ashmolean Museum
Beaumont St
Oxford OX1 2PH
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1865 278 000






There’s certain plenty to see in Oxford. Some might need a stroll to be able to appreciate it better as well as a visit inside the buildings. We did the bus tour for the overall view and we visited the Ashmolean Museum but then we walked about Oxford town to check out all these other famous landmarks for a closer look.


Martyrs' Memorial is a stone monument positioned at the intersection of St Giles', Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street and was built in 1843 to commemorate the 16th-century Oxford Martyrs.


Radcliffe Camera is a grand sight to behold. A building of Oxford University, it was designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in 1737–1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library
Radcliffe Square


Hertford Bridge, also known as Bridges of Sighs, is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane.


Clarendon Building is an early 18th-century neoclassical building of the University of Oxford, built between 1711 and 1715 and is located on Broad Street. Located next to the famous Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre, the building was built to house the Oxford University Press, which has ten moved out on 1832.



After a long day of walking around Oxford, we headed back to our hotel for a quick refresh and rest before heading out to dinner at Portabello Restaurant, which was a 10 minute stroll away from our Marlborough House Hotel.






Portabello Restaurant

A cosmopolitan British restaurant, bar and grill, Portabello serves British food such as steaks, seafood and British classic dishes, set in a simple and elegant ambiance that is relaxing and cozy. Walking into Portabello Restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the wait staff with a smile.

To set the mood for the evening, we all decided to splurge on some cocktails for merriment. For dinner, we opted for their three course Private Dining menu priced at £27 (not inclusive of drinks and cocktails). One can also opt for their two course menu at £21.


My choice of the three course was Seasonal House Terrine with Chutney & Toast, Chargrilled Rump Steak, Fries and Garlic, Rocket & Parmesan Salad and Raspberry and Mango Sorbet.

The terrine was really unique and moreish. Bits of cured meat set with gelatin was delicious on crispy toast and the tangy chutney balanced up the richness of the terrine well. My rump steak was very decent and juicy. Cooked to my medium likeness, the steak with chips was a good choice since I was hungry that evening. The best course of the night was the house made fruit sorbet. Utterly divine with intense raspberry and mango notes, it was the perfect ending to my day in Oxford!


Others had Beetroot Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber, Spinach & Pinenut Cakes with Tomato & Olive Salsa, Hake Fillet, Mussel & Leek Chowder, Chicken Milanese with Chopped Capers, Gherkin & Egg,
Triple Cooked Chips (£3.50) and cocktails.



Portabello Restaurant
7 South Parade, Summertown
Oxford OX2 7JL
Tel: 01865 559653


Business Hours:
Mon - Sat: 9.30am - 10.30pm
Sunday: 9.30am - 9.30pm




After dinner, I was glad to walk off dinner. The evening was quite dark and cold and I was glad when I reach the hotel as I was really looking forward to a soak in the long bath and a good night sleep!


Marlborough House Hotel


Located 1.5 miles from Oxford’s historic city centre, the 1990 custom built hotel is set in a Victorian neighborhood. The seventeen rooms hotel may not be the newest on the block but offers single and family rooms with en-suite facilities, kitchenettes and mini bars filled with lots of treats and snacks.


My room was spacious and has a table and chairs for dining set along with a refrigerator, microwave, kettle, television, en-suite bathroom with a long bath and toiletries. Though a little worn down, it is still clean and neat and I do like the quiet neighborhood and the personal feeling of a home rather than a hotel.

What makes Marlborough House Hotel a little special is that they serve you breakfast in bed each morning! Stay tune for my breakfast in my next post…


Marlborough House Hotel
321 Woodstock Road,
Oxford OX2 7NY
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1865 311 321





*Stay tune for Day 4 - Cotswold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Tilly’s Tea House, Bourton-on-the-Water, Bath, Rajpoot Indian Restaurant, Edgar Townhouse Hotel




For more information and to plan your Great Value Travel to London, check out Visit Britain at www.visitbritain.com/malaysia or CIT Malaysia at www.cit.travel/europe/united-kingdom


This trip was made possible by Visit Britain. All stories and comments in my posts are purely derived from my own experiences through the trip.

Great Value Travel to London Stories


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