“It was a dreary morning when the wheels
Rolled over a wide plain o’erhung with clouds,
And nothing cheered our way till first we saw
The long-roofed chapel of King’s College lift
Turrets and pinnacles in answering files,
Extended high above a dusky grove.”
Today, V and I took a day trip to explore Cambridge. We took the National Express coach from Victoria Station in London and landed in Cambridge by noon. Footloose and fancy free, we set out to explore.
Rivalry between England’s two oldest and most prestigious universities, “Oxbridge,” dates back some 800 years ago when an association of scholars left Oxford after a dispute with the townsmen to form Cambridge University. Like Oxford, Cambridge is a collegiate university comprising of 31 independent colleges including King’s College, Queen’s College, and Trinity College. Whilst much bigger in size than its rival, Cambridge still retains its scholarly atmosphere and the town is filled with cute coffee shops, ubitiquous bookstores, narrow pedestrian pathways, and tons of bikes lining the streets of Cambridge.
Our first stop along the King’s Parade was King’s College. Founded by Henry VI in 1441, King’s College is the most architecturally stunning building in Cambridge in my opinion, particularly the College Chapel, a brilliant example of late Gothic architecture.
The blue skies made the perfect backdrop for the unbelievably beautiful sandstone buildings.
Our next stop was the Trinity College. The largest of Cambridge’s colleges founded by Henry VII in 1546, Trinity College’s notable alumni includes Jawaharlal Nehru, Issac Newton, and Francis Bacon, and has produced over 30 Nobel Laureates. It is also home of the Wren Library designed by Christopher Wren, the 17th century architect who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Cambridge was an ultimate spot for two roaming shutterbugs!
The narrow, winding, cobblestone streets were just too picturesque to resist.
After all the architecture and lunch, we followed our feet down to the river and decided to do the other thing that Cambridge is so known for – Punting in River Cam!
A punt, for those wondering, is a flat bottomed boat, used in shallow waters and propelled along by a punter, who pushes against the river bed.
Originally used for shooting & fishing, now they’re pretty much just for larking about on the river.
We decided to take a self-hired punt which added to all the fun.
We couldn’t possibly have picked a more splendid day for it!
The sun blazed down above while a cool breeze whipped along the water, rustling the trees and turning the grass into ocean waves.
We punted along the winding stream, expertly maneuvered by our boatman. I have to say it was hard not just get swept up in the magic of the place.
Blossom fluttered down from the trees, canoodling couples whispered to each other, students taking a break from exams shrieked and laughed from wobbling boats.
I quietly sat and watched the play unfold around us, turning to smile at one and other now and then.
We quickly realized it takes two to punt! 😉
“With your hedonists who grovel on a cushion with a novel
(Which is sure to sap the morals and the intellect to stunt),
And the spectacle nefarious of your idle, gay Lotharios
Who pursue a mild flirtation in a misdirected punt!”
A guitarist singing on the bank was the golden ribbon tying up the dreamiest of afternoons.
Discovering we’d missed the Kings College Choir Service by a whopping 8 mins (mildly devastating), we lay our jackets in the long grass and just enjoyed the last of the sunshine.
How to get to Cambridge from London
Your best bet would be taking a National Express Coach (bus) from Victoria Station or a train from King’s Cross Station in London.
London to Cambridge by Bus: National Express has routes to Cambridge, but the price is not necessarily cheaper than the train (if you leave the booking until last minute, you’ll end up paying more than the train). The bus takes about 2 hours to reach Cambridge. >>Click here to book
London to Cambridge by Train: The London to Cambridge train is serviced by Great Northern from King’s Cross and take around 45 min on the direct train. Return tickets cost £16:50. Trains also leave from Liverpool Street and are served by Greater Anglia. The trip from Liverpool Street takes around 1:30 min. Return tickets cost £16:40 >>Click here to book
How To Get Around In Cambridge
Cambridge is a pretty walkable town so you can easily get from one sight to another with the help of a map. Alternatively, you could also buy a hop-on hop-off ticket to get a quick overview of the city. The tour lasts for about 90 minutes (if you stayed on the bus). If you are not too bothered about exploring the American WOII cemetery, which is situated outside of Cambridge, I wouldn’t recommend the hop-on, hop off for Cambridge.
What To See and Do In Cambridge In One Day
University Colleges: Cambridge has some stunning colleges, and most are open to the public. You’ll have to pay a small fee to visit them, but most of them are worth the fee. My favorites were: King’s College, St. John’s College and Queens’ College.
Punting on the River Cam: This is a must do when in Cambridge. Without this, your experience of Cambridge will be incomplete. You can book a guided tour or if you’re more adventurous like us, you can hire your own punt. It might look like a struggle but it’ll be an unforgettable experience.
Museums: There are also many museums in Cambridge, such as the Fitzwilliam Museum and the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. I would have loved to visit these, but I preferred exploring the beautiful town outside.
Cambridge University Botanic Gardens: Not too far from the city-centre, you can find forty acres of beautiful gardens where you’ll find plants from all over the world on display. It is the perfect place to visit when the sun is out.
Cambridge is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The people are lovely, it’s positively soaked in history and everyone whizzes around on bicycles; which is brilliant!
I highly recommend a trip.
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