Although the sky was overcast and bleak yet my day ended up very bright and sunny..cuz I was in Cambridge, UK- a vibrant university city with bustling shopping areas, beautiful green spaces and unspoilt historic buildings dating back through the centuries to early medieval times.
And these days it’s only about 50 minutes from central London by fast train. My brief ride from the station to the center of town, albeit along a main road, was a pleasure, with no buses driving on my back wheel and no cars revving their engines trying to overtake dangerously. First stop, the central market, of course :-)
Cambridge is a market city and stalls have been trading at the historic market square in the city center since the middle ages. From Monday to Saturday, you’ll find stalls selling all kind of stuff from books to clothes, jewellery and bags to fresh fruit and vegetables. And then there are second hand bikes, garden plants, mobile phones, accessories…
The market square also hosts a local food, arts and crafts market on Sundays selling organic produce from local farmers and work from some of the region’s most talented artists, craftsmen, potters, sculptors and photographers.
Going to Cambridge is a bit like stepping into a different world ..Hogwarts did always come to mind when I went walking here :-). It’s filled with young students and old buildings. .an interesting juxtaposition.
The University dominates Cambridge city center and the architecture of the city and gives the city the relaxed yet busy feel.
It was set up in 1209 and is one of the top universities in the world, which is no surprise considering it has created such minds as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Francis Bacon, Lord Kelvin and Alan Turing.
Cambridge is a collegiate university, meaning that it is made up of self-governing and independent colleges, each with its own property and income.
There are plenty of churches here, some of which are still used by the universities and therefore have a sign saying “Closed to Visitors” in front to try to keep the nosy tourist out.
Bicycles are just everywhere. They are both a sensible and popular method of transport in Cambridge which is aptly titled ‘the cycling city’. I saw bikes parked wherever possible: chained to every inch of railing or just locked to themselves, leaning against walls..
Follow “bike hire” signs and you find a warehouse that is hiring, repairing and selling old and new bikes. You can hire on a short-term (for day trippers) or long-term basis (for students). When I commented on the size of the place, the manager told me: “It’s just easier to get around Cambridge by bike.” It would not be the last time I’d hear this.
Between some of the famous colleges, King’s Parade is one of the most delightful streets in central Cambridge. The street continues north as Trinity Street and then St John’s Street, and south as Trumpington Street. I took some time to figure which street was I on but did that really matter! :-)
The city offers a unique and unrivalled shopping experience! Cambridge has an abundance of delightful independent shops, are hidden gems around virtually every historic street you come across.
The fabulously terrifying “Grasshopper Clock” on the corner of Corpus’ Taylor Library is a must-see.
Cambridge might be a university town, but it actually seems like quite a pleasant place to live in. There are a lot of wine & beer shops, butchers, breweries, markets, good restaurants and pubs. So even if you are just visiting, there is plenty to see, eat and drink.
And as I spent the day wandering through its winding streets, I realized that Cambridge lives and breathes its past in its present.
See more bright travels in Ailsa’s Travel Theme.