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Last weekend, Michael and I headed out to Oxford, only a one-hour train ride from London, to visit one of my cousins and to tour the city.  My Tante Barbara was also visiting from Germany, so she met us at the train station for our city visit.

Oxford, known as the “city of dreaming spires”, is dominated by its famous university. Comprised of 36 colleges, the University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world.  To begin exploring the city, we first headed to the Carfax Tower to get a birds-eye view of Oxford.  Climbing towers seems like such a European thing to do!  The Tower is all that remains of a 13th century church and is considered the center of the city.

The Carfax Tower, Oxford

Panorama of Oxford from the Carfax Tower

We wandered through the Covered Market, which included all kinds of shops.

I like how this meat seller is called Feller’s, Son and Daughter, but I’m wondering:  Would I have to pluck my own pheasant or skin my own rabbit?

More shops, including David John, the sausage maker:

and a bakery where you can watch how their cake decorations are made:

From the market, we went on to explore some of the beautiful architecture of Oxford, wandering through the small passageways and peeking into some of the colleges if we could.

The Sheldonian Theatre, Christopher Wren's first major design

Radcliffe Camera and nearby spires

Below is the Divinity School, entered through the Bodleian Library.  This Gothic room has 455 carved bosses in the ceiling and was used in some of the Harry Potter movies (the Hogwarts infirmary in the first movie and a dance lesson in Goblet of Fire).

The Divinity School, Oxford

After wandering down to the River Cherwell so Michael could feed some birds, we headed over to Christ Church, one of the largest colleges of the university.  Lots of history here – Charles I lived in Christ Church during the Civil War, Lewis Carroll wrote the stories of Alice in Wonderland, and 13 prime ministers were educated here.  We met up with my cousin and one of her sons to visit the dining hall, which was the inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall.  We also visited the beautiful church, which is the Cathedral church for Oxford.

Christ Church Dining Hall

Cathedral of Christ Church, Oxford

A closer view of the Chancel Vault and its lantern-shaped pendants at Christ Church

Tante Barbara and I wait to get into Christ Church. IT WAS COLD!!!

After our tour around Oxford, we warmed up at my cousin’s house, where we enjoyed coffee and cake as well as dinner before heading back to London in the snow.