Monday, March 17, 2014

Cambridge Getaway

I'd been wanting to check out Cambridge ever since my grandparents told me about their trip to England and how they loved the scholarly town so much. For some reason or another, it took us awhile to make it here, but I think we came at the perfect time of year! 

We planned the trip very last minute- a week before going, to be exact. Trains are so convenient. We just looked up how often the train to Cambridge was leaving (about every 20 minutes) and from what station (King's Cross), showed up and bought our ticket plus an open return for the next day. With train tickets only costing 35 pounds round trip, was a nice, easy way to get out of London for the weekend. 

Because I booked our hotel last minute, there weren't a ton of choices. We stayed at the Regent's Hotel and I was very pleased. We got the executive suite since we were only going to be there for one night.
I couldn't get over how many bikes there were in Cambridge. EVERYONE rode a bike. The bike lanes were fantastic and if we were there for longer, I would have wanted to rent one for the day.
All in all, I just loved Cambridge. It wasn't as posh or pretentious as I imagined it to be. The town had a very cool, hip vibe because, hello, it's a college town! 

After checking in to our hotel, we wanted to go punting. We were pretty hungry, though, so stopped to pick up some very nonpaleo sandwiches and bottled of water. The cafe was so cute and overflowing with brunching students.
I highly recommend punting if you are in Cambridge. I LOVED it! And I am really glad we went on a tour, vs punting by ourselves. It looked pretty difficult, and this way we got to hear more about Cambridge. 

Cambridge was founded is 1209 by people from Oxford who had a disagreement with the town folk. I wish I could remember all of the different colleges that make up the university, but I can't (Cambridge is made up of 30-something colleges). 

Unfortunately, this was about as close to King's College as we got. I really wanted to attend the Eversong, but the day before was end of term, so no chapel service! Because the term just ended, most of the college's were closed to the public- but we still got to see a couple!

Everything was just so beautifully preserved. Daniel was hoping it would feel more like Hogwarts and was disappointed that it didn't, but I still thought it felt like we were stepping back in time being in the university area.

Our guide was fantastic and I'm guessing a student. Watching other people try to punt their own boat made me SO thankful we didn't even try. It was like bumper cars in the river! And I am surprised we didn't see anyone fall in.

How did Cambridge get it's name? The river Cam runs through the town, the main bridge being in the city center back in the day. People would say to meet at the Cam Bridge...and the town just became Cambridge overtime!

This is St. John's college and we toured it after our boat ride. It is perfectly symmetrical and is often called the wedding cake. It is missing a clock, however, and as our tour guide explained, "naughty students often draw one in." The college ran out of money when building it, and couldn't add a clock!

The oldest bridge in Cambridge! And it's namesake. 
After our boat ride, we took the time to just explore the town. It was like a maze! We would often dead end to the river and have to turn around to find another way to our destination.
As I earlier mentioned, most of the colleges were closed to the public. Every school charges around 3-7 pounds pp to go in, so you really have to pick and choose which ones to go in! We walked through St. John's College, and it didn't disappoint.
The library was small but quintessential. The books were SO OLD and we obviously weren't allowed to touch them.

There were signs all over the place saying to keep off the grass, but no one was abiding by that rule. I loved it- students playing frisbee, soccer, drinking wine out of the bottle (no open container laws and the legal age is 18)- made me want to go back to uni! 
Daniel took a picture of me taking a picture. Sneaky fellow! 

This, I remember, is Trinity College. That's a statue of its founder, King Henry VIII, over the door. Trinity College was founded as a compromise: Cambridge and Oxford were both religious institutions, and he was on a mission to close everything that associated with the old ways. His 6th wife pleaded with him to not shut down the schools, but to add a new college to promote the Church of England.

Notable alumni: Isacc Newton, Lord Byron, 6 prime ministers and 31 Nobel Prize winners.

At the end of the day, we stopped by The Eagle, the oldest pub in Cambridge, dating back to the 14th century. More recently,  it is where Crick and Watson came in, interrupted everyone's lunch, and announced that they found the "secret of life"- DNA's double helix. I just love imagining all of the academics and scholars sitting in this pub and discussing their learnings over the past 600 years.

Now I want to go to Oxford and compare the two college towns! Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a lovely Monday.

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