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Published: March 14th 2015
What a fun day! I'm still a little jetlagged, but I probably got 8-9 hours of sleep last night anyhow. Getting up at 6:30AM GMT was no easy task for me, though knowing where we were going certainly made it easier. Trains are such a wonderful deal throughout most of Europe, and England is no different - provided that you order online and early enough. This was my first trip to Cambridge, and I recommend visiting it, if you get a chance.
The trip up to Cambridge took an hour from London. It turns out that the train station at Cambridge is actually nowhere near the university. It was over a mile to walk there, so we were grateful for the exercise and ate accordingly more food than we would have otherwise. We found this wonderful place called Fitzbillies, and they had the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. The grilled ham and cheese sandwiches weren't bad either, and neither was the tea. It was a welcomed refreshment in the late morning.
Next, we went up to the River Cam, where we had booked a punting boat on the river. No, we weren't bold enough to do the punting
Stained glass from Peterhouse Chapel
The oldest college at Cambridge, but not the oldest stained glass
ourselves. We had an informative guide do that for us. The sun came out just as we got to the river, so we took that as a good sign. It really was a keen way to see the town, and I highly recommend it if any of you ever go to Cambridge. We floated underneath all the old (and not-so-old) bridges and saw the colleges from the river. This was a good thing, since the colleges that we really wanted to go visit, or just cross their bridges, charged an admission fee. The cheap end was 2 pounds, and it went up to 7.5 pounds. That's outrageous, if you ask me. My advice is to take the free walking tour, pay for the punting cruise, get the quintessential Cambridge experience, and skip the individual colleges that charge admission unless you have a vested interest in paying for admission to one.
Another free find was the Fitzwilliam Museum, which had troves of art and antiquities from a wide area. It was truly mesmerizing, and it was
all free! We spent probably an hour in there. We also lucked into the Cambridge Science Festival. We didn't know it was going on until we got there, but we managed to see a lecture on immunology that was more fun than you're thinking. It was interactive and geared towards a general audience. It lasted an hour, but it didn't seem to last that long, which is the sign of a good presentation to me. We ended our day with walking around some more along the river and through some of the college quadrangles, just soaking in the university atmosphere. Our last stop on the way back to the train was Fitzbillies for a hot chocolate to take with us.
This was truly the perfect first full day in Europe for me. Planned enough to get us there, but spontaneous enough to remain interesting. Cambridge could probably be a dull town if you stuck to the university buildings and the expected routes. But we found a few nice surprises. I also realized during the punting tour that I was on vacation for the next few weeks, and there was absolutely no reason to stress about anything. That
made all the difference! Of course, Eno's company has been a blessing, too. I'm sad she won't be able to accompany me next week, but we do have Italy in May to look forward to!
I should also say that I got my phone to work (finally!), so I can receive texts and even make some calls, if needed. That little lifeline is a luxury, for sure, so it's good to know it's there.
Postcard lovers: send me your addresses. If you want a postcard from me on this trip, I'd love to send you one (or more). Send me a facebook message, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you don't feel comfortable leaving your address in the comments section of this blog. I already have a couple of addresses from the past few months, but I'd love more. Even if you gave me your address for a previous trip, I'm only going to send you a postcard if you send me your address now.
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