A Perfect (Or at Least Amazing) Day In Cambridge

On this blog I’ve shared some interesting  facts and some great food destinations, but what about the city of Cambridge itself? What’s on the list of awesome things to do while in the city? I’m going to share some amazing places for you to go, but another list is so “old hat”. Instead, I’m going to walk you through a perfect (or at least amazing) day in Cambridge.

You wake up in the historic city of Cambridge, ready to start your day. You likely eat a delicious Traditional English Breakfast, which has filled you for the morning. (I think English bacon, eggs, cheese, fruit, toast, possibly some baked beans, and some tea would fill anyone for awhile.) Where should you go first? Might I suggest a stroll down Hills Road? There you can dig for hidden treasures at various thrift and charity shops, or get some fresh produce at the grocery market. What you really want to do, however, is explore that tall steeple you see marking the skyline. As you come up on Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church, you can’t help but stare in awe of the resolute old brick, a place seemingly out of time. As you enter its large doors to gaze at the beautiful architecture, glass windows, and sanctuary, you are left with a sense of solemn awe.

Our Lady RC Church
Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church

As you continue up Hills Road and it turns into Regent and St. Andrews Street, you find yourself with some more options for shopping and for lunch. Do you want to go to restaurant, a pub, or a cafe? Oh, maybe you will hold out as you make your way towards Market Hill.

As it is every Saturday, the market right next to King’s College and St. Mary’s Church is abuzz. Maybe today you’ll buy some of the fresh bread or produce, some uniquely made ceramics, some home-made home decor, or whatever else catches your eye at the large weekend market. By now you are definitely hungry, and decide on one of the tasty food options you saw along the way to the market. As you walk off your meal, you pass by the astounding King’s College. As is likely, public tours may not be available at present; but you still want to get a better look at the University of Cambridge. Fortunately, a man on a street corner is about to give you that opportunity. The sign in his hand displays different prices for punting tours on the River Cam behind the University. (A punt is a gondola-like boat maneuvered by a pilot on standing up and pushing the boat along with a punting stick.)

After haggling for a good price from the gentleman (which is easier to do in large groups), you follow him and other passengers to the river entrance. You step onto the punt and settle yourself in its comfortable seat, and your guide pushes off the river bank onto the river. Off you go! Gently traveling down the river. Surrounded by beautiful willows, watching to make sure you don’t hit any ducks along your way, you look up to see the iconic view of the University of Cambridge– specifically, King’s College Chapel. The lawn is greener than you thought, the view of the centuries-old Chapel just as breathtaking as you imagined. Traveling down the river, you pass under the Bridge of Sighs, the spot that Queen Victoria is said to have loved most in Cambridge.

King's College Chapel. In the bottom right corner is a punter. Taken on the River Cam
King’s College Chapel. In the bottom left corner is a punter. Taken on the River Cam.

You leave your punt ride feeling relaxed (unless there was some mishap, such as your guide losing his punting stick under a bridge). As you are already in the area, you decide to explore college portion of Cambridge some more. Here the roads are narrow and made of brick; the buildings, though perhaps a grocery store or pharmacy now, whisper of centuries past. You enjoy just taking a stroll and appreciating your surroundings. Along your journey you find something really unusual- the Corpus Clock at Corpus Christi College. This large, golden clock with a large insect called Chronophage (Time-Eater) to guard it seems almost out of place in the old stone wall. No wonder! This feat of engineering was unveiled (though not designed by) by none other than Stephen Hawking in 2008.

The Corpus Clock.
The Corpus Clock.

Right down the street from the clock is the Eagle, the pub where DNA was announced in the 20th century. (For more on the Eagle and other food destinations in Cambridge, see my previous blog post “Dining in Cambridge? Try these places!”). Perhaps you stop in for a full meal, or enter the pub and snap a selfie just to say you did. Maybe you’re not hungry for dinner just yet, but some fresh-made ice cream still sounds quite satisfying. Right across from King’s College is Benet’s Homemade Ice Cream. As your day in Cambridge comes to a close, you take your ice cream out of the University area and back towards St. Andrews Street. You walk to what is possibly Cambridge’s most famous park, Parker’s Piece. Like many other visitors to the wide, open park, you take a seat on the grass to relax and take in your day. You watch as people on bicycles ride past along the sidewalk. You watch as a group of children play football (soccer) together. You notice a couple having a picnic on a blanket (which you decide to do one day yourself). Maybe you’ll get a bite to eat before heading back home. For now, however, you are content to just sit in the park, where the whole city seems at peace.

Parker's Piece with Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church in the distance.
Parker’s Piece with Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church in the distance.

That is what I would call an amazing day in Cambridge.

As Cambridge is such an amazing city with a rich history and other beautiful sights, here’s a quick list to make an(other) amazing day in Cambridge!

  1. The hop-on hop-off bus tour
  2. Christ’s Piece (another park; this one has more trees and flowers)
  3. St. Mary’s Church Tower
  4. Chocolat Chocolat
  5. University Tours (though these are not always available).

 

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