Cambridge has a great mix of old and new.
The city itself is formed of 17 colleges, Kings being the most famous and Trinity being the largest and wealthiest. In fact rumour has it you can walk from Cambridge to London without ever leaving Trinity land. And the fact they own part of Manhattan that benefits from shipping taxes makes them not only one of the world’s largest land owners it also means they have income from 100’s of years to come.
The new is because with the sheer amount of students moving into and out of the city every year the area is constantly incorporating and adjusting to meet their needs. New pieces of artwork including this clock opened by Steven Hawking in dedication to Charles Darwin.
There is plenty to see and do!
The centre and main part of Cambridge is easy to walk around and you can cover most of it by foot in a day. Every street is charming in its own way, whether it’s a college building from the 1600’s to shops huddled together offering everything from fudge made in front of your eyes to handmade robes or traditional sweets to college essentials. You could easily explore this city and never get bored.
Of course if you prefer structure to your discovering you can’t help but bump into walking tours. You can take tours of the whole city or just of the colleges – themselves big enough to keep you occupied for hours. You’ll hear stories of student pranks and of famous college graduates strolling the very streets you’ll walk on. You can see where the city was bombed, flooded and attacked in different centuries, it is a city with everything.
Oh and we can’t forget the punting. It is on every Cambridge ‘to do list’ and we are so glad we followed the advice. Having booked online we managed to save a bit of money but we were told you could barter, if you are any good at it, for a better price. We opted for Scudamores after the advice of our host as she advised us it went the whole length of the river not just part.
Our punter was ‘typically Cambridge’, well spoken, witty and full of dislike for Oxford – both the place and the people! It was clear the old rivalry was still alive and well. He was full of interesting facts about the area and the colleges and as a University Graduate he was able to give us insight into what it was really like to live in Cambridge! Turns out as a young student you spend quite a bit of time being thrown in the river and that cycling is the only method of transport! Oh it is also a very safe city with very friendly people. All points we could agree with.
You won’t go hungry in Cambridge!
As we mentioned Cambridge is a busy mix of people and because of it there is no shortage of places to eat. While Market Square makes it easy to access stands selling meats, cheeses, fresh sandwiches and cakes the surrounding streets are full of independent and chain restaurants. We choose independent for a delicious Italian ahead of seeing Jason Mraz and had amazing crepes in another independent café on Sunday. It wasn't the cheapest but it they were good sized portions so we couldn't complain.
Then there are the cream teas. Okay so these aren't ‘Cambridge’ as such but as a traditional city they certainly had plenty of nice cafes offering cream teas. We were told about a café situated in Grandchester about 20 mins from Cambridge that was located in an orchard once frequented by Rupert Brooke (a poet), Russell and Wittgenstein (philosophers), Forster and Virginia Woolf (novelists), Keynes (an economist), and Augustus John (an artist). Check out their website here! You purchase your cream teas and then find a table, watching out for apples ready to drop of course! Then once you have finished indulging and feeling very sophisticated you can take a stroll to the river nearby and admire the views.
There are plenty of places to stay and it’s pretty reasonable!
I've lived in the UK pretty much my whole life and I did not know Cambridge was so close to London. It is less than an hour away if you don’t hit traffic. We decided to stay over though because the accommodation was so reasonable as well as it allowing us to see more of the area. After searching Air B&B and finding a windmill we could stay in – A WINDMILL!!!! – we were told it wasn't available so a second search on LastMinute.com brought up The White House. Where better to stay with my very important American?!
The White House was located nearer St Neots, another lovely market town, than Cambridge but was drive-able in 20 minutes. From the moment we arrived we were swept up in hugs and conversation with our hosts, they were two of the nicest people you could ask to stay with. There B&B consisted of two buildings joined together by a house where they live. The way it was set up gave us a kitchen area that was available for all guests and a lounge should we had wanted to chill out. But our bedroom was equipped with an en-suite and TV so what more could you need?! We also got a key to access the main door should we be getting back late. It was a home away from home. That wasn’t the best part though. The best part was the advice our hosts gave us. From where to park for free to the best way to get to the city, to what company to use for punting and where to eat this couple were on point every tome and probably saved us a fortune!
We would definitely recommend a day or weekend visit, especially as it is so close to London and yet so different. It is also so British in all the right ways. For more info check out here: http://www.visitcambridge.org/