Travel Log: Cambridge, UK


We left York after lunch on Wednesday and headed south to Cambridge. We chose Cambridge as our third and final destination before settling in London for the end of our trip because it was in a good location to complete our circle(ish) train ride around northern England and not too far from London, so we wouldn't have a long ride on Thursday. 

We were intrigued by the history there, the famous colleges, and the architecture. What we were not prepared for were all the BIKES. So many bikes. So many. Honestly, never in my life have I been anywhere with so many people riding bikes. Which makes sense now that I think about it, because it's a small college town, so biking is an inexpensive way to get around. But it was crazy how many bikes there were. Every single wall, post, and railing had some kind of sign attached to it stating whether or not you were able to use it as a bike rack. When we crossed the street, we were more scared of a bike running us over than a car. I'm not exaggerating!
After two Air BnB experiences, we booked a hotel in Cambridge. It was unlike any hotel I've stayed at in the US and was basically like an Air BnB because it was self-check-in! A week before our arrival I received an email telling me instructions for how to get to the hotel and the key code to get into the building and into our room. There was a note on the bed when we got there with my name on it that had instructions for the WiFi and the check-out time. 

In the morning, we simply closed the door of our room and left the building, and the code expired at the check-out time (10am). We were able to leave our bags in the main building while we explored on Thursday, and there was a code for that building that expired at 3pm the day of check-out. But no official reception desk or hotel personnel! Crazy!
We basically spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning exploring Cambridge. I had a list of a few top recommended places to see, and we hit a lot of them. We ate breakfast and had tea at a hipster (according to Jordan, lol) spot that was full of college students on laptops studying smart things. I had rhubarb porridge (pictured above) and it was delicious. Jordan had a sausage roll, since he tried to get those as often as he could while in England.
I can't really say that we so much "did" anything while in Cambridge. School was in session, so most of the campuses were closed to visitors, although we could have paid 20 pounds a person to go inside King's College (we didn't). It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we walked around outside and saw people punting on the River Cam, which was neat!
Below is the mathematical bridge, which was originally built in 1749. It has been rebuilt twice since but kept the same design.
The two coolest things we did in Cambridge were go the Fitzwilliam Museum and visit the Wren Library. The museum wasn't on our list at all, but we passed it while walking somewhere else and decided to go in. Jordan loves museums and enjoyed seeing all the artifacts and various things they had there. It was a taste of what we would see at the British Museum in London!
I was glad it worked out for us to visit the Wren Library. It is a working university library at Trinity College that opened in 1695. It's only open to the public on weekdays from 12 to 2pm. You can't take any pictures inside, but it's exactly what I would picture a super old library to look like, with high shelves and sliding ladders and tons of very old books. There are some pictures to see if you look it up on Google images. There are 6 glass cases that hold a few treasures of the library, most notably an 8th-century copy of the Epistle of Paul; Isaac Newton's notebook, walking stick, and a lock of his hair (kinda weird, kinda cool); the original manuscript of Winnie the Pooh; and early Shakespeare editions.

All in all, we enjoyed our walk around Cambridge but were excited to head to London for our last few days. We loved Liverpool and York so much that Cambridge paled a bit in comparison for us. Not that it wasn't neat to see, and I'm not sad we went! I hear about Cambridge all the time. People I work with go there for choir performances and sabbaticals, and it's so historic that it is just fun to be able to say I've been there. See our travel video below or click here.

Now for our last stop: London!

Cambridge, UK from Amanda Bumgarner on Vimeo.
Audrey Louise said...

So cool! I can't believe all those bikes in the picture! That's insane! I love the door photo. English history and architecture and design are the best :) I can't wait to go some day!! Can't wait to see the London recap(s)!!

Unknown said...

That hotel with self-check-in sounds so interesting! It would probably be handy to not have to wait around in a hotel lobby while a receptionist manages a bunch of customers & phones.

I think it's so cool that there were so many bikes! I wish that biking was used as ordinary transportation over here more. I know that some people do it (one of our friends from church bikes to his office downtown in nice weather), but it's not nearly at the level of biking in Europe.

Betsy said...

sometimes those "just walking around" days are exactly what you need! I'm glad the weather cooperated for you.

Jen said...

Wow!!! Cambridge is beautiful!!! I've heard amazing things about it there.

Sarah @ Sweet Miles said...

The architecture!! Cambridge looks amazing! I've always wanted to go to one of those super old libraries with the sliding ladders like you mentioned - I feel like I see them all the time in movies! I can't wait for your London post! That's hilarious about the bikes - who would have thought!

Rach said...

All the bikes!!! Wow! The only place I've seen that many bikes before was in China, but there were tons of cars and motorcycles there too. It's kind of nice to think of a place that is mostly bike-centered. I bet the air quality was great!

Okay, so all the history! I can't imagine going to university in a place like that. I bet it's pretty amazing. Also, I love that you guys got to see the library and all the artifacts there. And as always, the architecture in places like that just astounds me.

Oh, and the clips of you coming out of the phone booth - perfection! You can't go to the UK and NOT do that!

Maria said...

Sometimes my favorite days on vacation are the ones where you are forced to have some down time or walking time because there isn't much on the agenda. It gives me stamina for the days where we go nonstop! What a beautiful town! College towns always seem to be a bit special, but can you imagine going to college in such a historical place?

Bikes! That's how it was in Amsterdam. I was especially interested in seeing how Europeans traveled on bikes with their kids. They had these need wooden attachments (looked like a little boat almost) to the bikes and they could strap up to four kids in them.