About two weeks ago, myself and my good friend Lena (shoutout, love ya girl) decided to book a day trip to Cambridge, which is an hour and a bit from London. I’ve never been around England, so I was super excited to visit it and get a chance to explore.
We booked out tickets via National Express coach, which was really affordable – only £10.40 back and forth. We were set out to leave at 9:30AM, so I woke up pretty early to get ready and meet Lena at the station. We got some chocolate croissants for breakfast.
We got lucky with the weather, because it was sunny but chilly – just how I like it. The coach ended up being 45 minutes late, but I was okay with it because we were having a good time talking and joking around. When it finally arrived, we got on and enjoyed the stunning views of the English countryside.
We got to Cambridge a little before 11:00AM, and were overwhelmed by the things we could start with, so we decided to walk to the town centre and figure it out from there. On the way, we took a quick detour into one of the Cambridge University lodges.
The lodges (pictured above) were for university professors. There was a big green field in the middle and circling around it were the rooms.
Then, we made out way to the open market in the middle of the town centre. They sold all sort of things there, from Cambridge University merchandise, to street food, to general touristy stuff like postcards, keyrings, and magnets. I bought a Sidney Street postcard, which I’ll show you guys in a bit. In the meantime, enjoy these photos of the market (below).
We then made out way to St Mary’s Church, where you could climb the bell tower and get an Ariel view of the city for just £5. There were 124 steps to get upstairs, and the walls were engraved and graffitied with names and dates. I love stuff like that, so I thoroughly enjoyed the 10 minutes it took for us to get to the top.
The view, as expected, was stunning. Cambridge is much smaller than you’d expect, and you could see all of it from the top. It’s definitely a must-do.
When we got back downstairs, I signed the guestbook and checked out the first edition of King James’ bible, which is dated 1611. I wonder what my ancestors were doing around that time.
We wanted to do some more walking around after seeing the view, so we decided to just take a stroll. We came across some gorgeous stores. Most of these were franchises, like Five Guys, Cath Kidston, Mango, and so on, but a few that stood out to me were independent store. The Cambridge Satchel Company stood out to me specifically, because of its gorgeous colours. There were also a number of stores which sold original Cambridge University merchandise. I had my eyes on a varsity jacket which was a gorgeous £40.
After this, it was lunch time, and we opted for some jacket potatoes. I had mine with cheese and beans, which I’ve never had before, and it was hands down the best thing I’ve eaten since moving to England.
The guy who was selling them told us that it was off-season time, so there weren’t many tourists around at all. He also said that most people in the town knew each other by name; he said it would take someone two weeks to get to know everybody around.
Although it’s beautiful, I think it would get a bit depressing to live in Cambridge on a permanent basis. I love change, and I don’t think Cambridge has much of that.
Post lunch, I wanted to rent bikes to ride around because I love riding bikes, and also I hadn’t done it in a while. There’s a service called Mobike, which allows you to rent bikes with an app for only £1 per 20 minutes. I decided to rent one for 1 hour 40 minutes, which, in retrospect, was a little long because Lena decided to walk it. I definitely recommend only renting a bike if you’re alone or if the people you’re with rent bikes too, simply because it’s easier than riding for a bit then waiting for people to catch up with you.
We then made our way around different parks, trying to find the many bridges that Cambridge is known for, namely the Mathematical Bridge and The Bridge of Sighs, The views we saw were incredibly picturesque, and my photos don’t do them justice.
The first picture on the bottom left The Bridge of Sighs. It was built in the 1800s. It’s named after a bridge in Italy, which was a bridge prisoner’s had to cross before being taken down to their cells. The sigh would signify their last sigh of freedom. Another fun fact: it was Queen Victoria’s favourite place in the city. Imagine standing in the very spot that an actual Queen of England stood in?!
It was now nearing sunset, so we decided to ditch the bike and make our way back to Market Square for a little snack. We found a lovely Belgian Waffle stall, where we both got The Cambridge Queen (waffle, chocolate, and fresh strawberries). If you ever go to Cambridge, definitely try this. The guy who sells them is called Bernard and is very nice.
We ate the waffles sitting on a fountain in the middle of the market and watching the vendors pack up their stock. It was the perfect way to rest our legs, as well as plan out the rest of our evening as we had five more hours in the city. We then walked around and took more photos in the last light of the day.
Pictured above is the postcard I got, which is a painting of Sidney Street from the 1800’s. The difference is crazy; the structure of the street and the building is the same, but it has definitely changed in every other aspect.
We ran into a bookstore in an alleyway: G. David Bookseller. The inside was stunning and lined in antique books, maps, and letters i.e. my dream come true. I’m pretty sure I spent a solid hour just sniffing the old parchment. A warning; the shop staff isn’t the friendliest. I like to make conversation before I buy from people, especially if they’re independent sellers, but these guys were more interested in talking to each other and didn’t take us as serious customers.
Here is where the photos come to a halt, because at this point, the two of us were tired and cold. We were still full from the waffles, but the stores were beginning to close up, so our only option was to do an early dinner. We headed towards Nanna Mexico, a halal Mexcian place known for its burritos and quesadillas. We got a chicken and cheese quesadilla to share, and it was only £6.80, which is a pretty good price. We ended up staying there for an hour until we decided to get some hot chocolates and head to the bus station.
The way back was a quiet ride as the two of us were falling asleep. But it was an amazing day, and I can’t wait to go again!