Thursday, January 31, 2008
Today I set out on a day trip from London to Cambridge. I’ve been to Oxford three times in my life, but have largely–albeit unintentionally–ignored its rival to the northeast. I traveled this morning from King’s Cross Station to rectify the imbalance.
My day trip to Cambridge took me to many of the famous colleges, including King’s College, Trinity College, St. John’s College, and Jesus College.
Some of the colleges are closed to visitors, but thankfully I still look young enough to pass for a student so I sneaked in undetected. I ducked into some of the smaller colleges as well, and made my way up to the Castle Mound and out to the Botanical Gardens.
Like Oxford, Cambridge is a small town with beautiful old architecture and perfectly manicured lawns (keep your tourist feet off, please). There is a meandering river and churches galore, and lots of libraries, books, and academic paraphernalia lying about.
Despite its superficial similarities with its rival, however, Cambridge somehow felt bigger and grander than Oxford, as if someone took the latter and blew it up or added more space between the buildings. The Backs, or the green spaces behind some of the colleges, were enormous, as were some of the colleges’ courtyards. There seemed to be more buildings or at least bigger ones, and the ceiling of the King’s College Chapel was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I liked Cambridge better than Oxford (I don’t want to make enemies too soon after arriving in England!). In fact, one of the things I was disappointed in was that all of the boat rental kiosks were closed for the winter. I was looking forward to trying (or at least trying vicariously through others) the strange art of punting. Sadly, all I could do was look at the empty boats.
My train home was non-stop and took less than an hour, which makes me think that this won’t be my last day trip from London to Cambridge.