Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Two UK city breaks: Oxford and Lancaster

Like most of my adopted country, I've been professionally inactive for the past few weeks. Like all good expats, I've been back home visiting family and friends. While I was back in the UK, my itinerary took me to Oxford, the city where I studied, started my publishing career, and lived before I moved to Madrid (on both occasions). I love returning there, not just to see friends, but also because it's a stunning city: in the centre, almost every corner you turn reveals an ancient college quad peeping out from under an archway, a gargoyle-bedecked library or a row of rickety bikes awaiting their owners. Going back there as a visitor, I appreciate the details I overlooked during the heads-down rush of the morning commute.

The Radcliffe Camera, one of Oxford University's libraries

While Oxford is a fantastic place to visit, full of architectural and cultural delights, it was as a resident that I really got to appreciate the non-university side of the city. Once my studies were over, I enjoyed spending weekends exploring Jericho's bar scene or dining out on buzzing Cowley Road. A local's knowledge is invaluable, and for this reason Travelodge recently asked me to share my Oxford insights as part of their new Get Up and Go Guide. A series of interactive maps and blog posts, the Get Up and Go Guide is packed with information for visiting UK destinations where Travelodge have properties. For non-UK readers who may not be familiar with Travelodge, it's a chain of affordable hotels in key locations in Britain and Europe.

Queens Lane, Oxford

Potential visitors to Oxford can find my tips on the interactive map, and my guide to the city here. Spanning top tourist attractions including the University and Ashmolean Museum, recommended pubs and restaurants and more, the guide makes a good starting point for anyone planning a trip to England's most beautiful university city (sorry Cambridge).

I also contributed a guide to Lancaster, another pretty little city not far from my home town.

Lancaster Canal. Image by Andrew Peascod courtesy of Flickr.

Located in the North West of England, Lancaster serves as the gateway to the Lake District, one of the country's most visited areas - and with good reason. Despite its prime location, Lancaster doesn't often feature on most tourist wishlists, which helps it to retain its local charm (and keeps prices down). Boasting plenty of pubs, including some excellent value gastro numbers, some good shopping and a range of attractions including a castle, Lancaster is worth a visit in its own right.

So whether you're looking for a culture-packed sightseeing break, some relaxed dining and retail therapy or a budget location for some lakeside exploration, Oxford and Lancaster are well worth considering.

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