Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Since Monday was a Bank Holiday* here and the weather was great, I decided to take the train to Cambridge. Now, the first thing I noticed about Cambridge was the vast bicycle parks outside the station. I’m talking hundreds of bikes, all lined up waiting for eager riders. Unfortunately for me, it seems the bikes actually belong to people and are waiting for certain SPECIFIC riders. Which led me to the second thing I noticed about Cambridge. The train station is a bit of a distance from the centre of town. There are busses that go straight from the station to town, a fact that dawned on me about halfway to the centre of town. But I had a nice walk anyway. Well, other than dodging the bikes. Cambridge is the only town I’ve ever visited where you are much more likely to get run over by a bike than by a car.

Once arriving in the town centre, I decided to get some lunch. You can get just about any kind of food you want in Cambridge (except for Mexican, it seems). I decided on a place called The Cow where I got a six-inch pizza, a very nice mixed green salad, and a pint of Diet Pepsi for £5.90. After lunch, I went to the outdoor market and bought a chocolate chip pastry twist to eat while I walked about.

To give an attempt of a comparison, in some ways, Cambridge reminds me of Charlottesville, Virginia. They both have the feeling of being small towns with great architecture. Of course, Cambridge has older architecture, but still… Cambridge also has a small river passing through. (It’s the River Cam…get it? Cam-bridge? Okay…anyway.) You can walk along parts of the river or you can rent small boats (called punts) to pole along. The river has some locks making it great for houseboats. (Since it has locks, I suppose that makes it a canal, but I’m not positive.) So, in some ways, walking along the water in Cambridge is a bit like the River Walk in San Antonio (but without the Mexican restaurants).

Cambridge also has these great, wide-open green spaces. Since today was so nice, the spaces were filled with people enjoying the day. The only troubling thing is the names of these spaces. I passed Parker’s Piece, which was fine, but soon I found myself looking at Christ’s Pieces. Forgive me, but it sounds too much like either a sacrilegious candy or a huge, horrid mess.

Just across the street from King’s College is Great St. Mary’s Church. I went in once, just after lunch, and there was a service going on so I didn’t stay. I did notice the people in academic robes (it was almost like seeing a Harry Potter church service) and the clouds of incense (way more than I’ve seen, or inhaled, in one place ever before). I went back later and climbed the tower. (There’s just something about a steep, narrow spiral staircase that I simply can’t avoid.) After wedging myself up 123 worn steps, I ended up on the top of the tower overlooking Cambridge. It was worth the view.

Since I had to return to work the next day, I decided not to stay too long. So, I hoofed my way back to the train station and enjoyed a pleasant ride home.

*I’m not exactly sure why we have Bank Holidays here or even why that’s what they’re called. I just know it meant we had the day off from school. This Bank Holiday was due to May Day.


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