Anywhere you go, people will be keen to tell you about what makes that place unique. It might be what makes that location so much better than anywhere else, or it might just be something quirky which happens nowhere else. However, I heard the phrase “only in Cambridge” countless times over the course of the weekend I was visiting Cambridge, and from multiple different people. Cambridge clearly has a distinct set of characteristics (beyond being incredibly flat!), which are very obvious to those who live there.
I was looking forward to my weekend in Cambridge as the brief glimpses of the city that I had had previously had shown that it ticked all my boxes for a great city; history, beautiful buildings, green spaces and good cake shops! I was also going with no expectations for the future – my previous two trips had been for the open day and an interview so there was a huge sense of what might be. This time however it was just interesting to think how different my life had been if I had been accepted all those years ago…
One of the main Cambridge attractions is of course the university. Whilst part of me felt really sorry for the students who were studying for exams (although some of the colleges were closed as a result of this) and having to put up with tourists traipsing around their home, I have to admit that this didn’t stop me from wanting to look around the colleges. If you have any friends studying at the university then make sure you ask them to give you a tour on your trip. Whilst some of the colleges are open to the public (for a quite steep fee), others are only open to students.
Thanks to the goodwill of Chloe’s friends, we managed to look around Darwin, Magdalene (above), King’s, Trinity and St John’s colleges (below) on my visit. They were each lovely and had beautiful gardens, made all the better by the sunshine we were blessed with. Entering the grounds of each college was almost like entering another world as they were so tranquil in comparison to the rest of the city. Returning back to the streets afterwards was like leaving a dream as you suddenly ended up in the middle of the hustle and bustle again.
Just walking around the city is one of the best ways to soak it up. The mathematical bridge and the bridge of sighs are both worth seeing, and you won’t get far without seeing someone punting! Whether you choose to go punting yourself, or stick to walking, a trip along “the backs”, which takes in the back of some of the colleges is worth doing. Whilst I went to Cambridge hoping to go punting, the waterways were quite busy and we decided to see them another way (but there will be more on that in the next post).
As we made our way around the city we passed an abundance of classy restaurants and cosy looking tearooms, but unfortunately just being there for the weekend meant there wasn’t time to fit everything in! We went to the well-known Fitzbillies for a quick scone, and having seen some of the cakes it is definitely somewhere I will want to return next time! We also went for lunch at Stickybeaks cafe which I would definitely recommend. I opted for a salad bowl of giant cous-cous which is a lot bigger than I expected but I really enjoyed it. There was also a great looking salad plate where you could choose up to three of a selection of different salads. Afterwards I had the chocolate brownie which was wonderfully rich and gooey – I was very satisfied!
The other thing I discovered in Cambridge which will stay with me is A Cambridge Diary, a photo a day of sights from around Cambridge of which you can buy postcards and calendars. Some of the pictures are beautiful – I really had to restrain myself from stocking up on postcards!
I really enjoyed having the opportunity to explore Cambridge in the sunshine. It is a really beautiful city and felt very safe wandering around at night. I think I’ll be back… after all, I still haven’t made it onto a punt and I’d love to see some of the surrounding area. Ely cathedral looked very impressive from the train!