Quintessential Oxford: Punting on the Thames

ducks by boat punting in oxford
Some cute little ducks came to say hi
This weekend, we hosted our very first visitors in Oxford. My friends Emily and Chris from Shreveport, LA, made a day trip to our quaint little town on Saturday (they had been vacationing in London for a week.) Oxford is quite small but all of the fun stuff is in one area -- the city centre -- so Christopher and I planned out a day's worth of activities that would hopefully keep them entertained and make them fall in love with this place as much as we did.

On the agenda: Coffee at Queen's Lane Coffee House (the oldest established coffee house in Oxford), The Covered Market (a cute little shopping area filled with fashion and food vendors), the Museum of the History of Science (where Albert Einstein's chalkboard hangs), and a new adventure for us, punting on the Thames.

According to people we've met here, this is one of the most quintessential Oxford things you can do. The flat-bottomed boat is typically used to get around small rivers or shallow water, and requires a large metal pole (about 16 ft weighing 10 lbs) that you use to steer. We opted to steer ourselves even though you could hire someone to do it for you. I mean, what's the fun in that? We quickly found it was much harder than it looked, but it was quite a fun and hilarious experience. Note: I was the only one who didn't try steering. With little faith in myself, I figured no one wanted to end up in the water. Not only was it cold, but there was a fee for overturned boats (must happen a lot!)

We spent an hour riding on the Thames and met quite a few little ducks (see above), and got a really beautiful view of the city. I highly recommend this if you're going to visit Oxford (although, I'm not sure how fun it is when the weather is cold or rainy--we definitely lucked out.)

Me and Emily--What you can't see is how hard I'm grabbing onto her when the boat shakes.
The boys. Despite the fact that they both ran us into the sides
and made us duck under the trees, they were the best punters ever.
Have you ever gone punting? What was your experience like?

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