My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for 2/3 years, and Joah has recently just moved even further away for a studentship (selfish).
I have just graduated from my postdoc (roughly 7 hours away by train or 4 hours away by car) and this was the first time I’d been able to see him in 2017. I was so excited! One of my friends Lizzie is from Cambridge and she lives a fabulous life of poetry readings, kayaking, and life-drawings.
He picked me up from the train station and we were off to explore one of England’s most beautiful and historic cities.
The Oxbridge prestige can honestly be felt in the air; a smog of self-importance and privilege. The beauty of the campuses and city itself transports you back in time, a time where only scholars and doctors wanted a liberal education. You had to be bright, especially bright. The sort of intelligence that liars say they can see in newborn babies kind of bright.
It was interesting to see how this ancient city had tried to integrate itself into modern times. What they had kept vs. what they had rejected. For example, higher end high-street stores like Whistles and Reiss inhabit most of the non-university / non-religious buildings.
Cambridge kept the high-street.
Customer service or general pleasantness to seemingly anyone. They are not so interested.
As someone who spends half of their time in London, in which resides over half a million more people than it was built to accommodate, and Exeter, one of the countries richest suburban areas, I feel like I have a pretty low standard for customer service/people in general. Rarely am I aghast from others rudeness. Cambridge was another level. Groups of students smack into you if you don’t get out of their way and a number of homeless people were openly mocked and ridiculed.
That being said, Stephen Fry went to Cambridge University and he is a national treasure! Despite our negative experiences, we were on the look out for some of the positives which had drawn Stephen Fry, amongst others, to their cobbled streets and Kings College would definitely be near the top of the list.
Kings College lies beside the River Cam and is considered one of the great examples of late-English gothic architecture. Their chapels stained-glass windows are thought to be the finest of their genre and the college as a whole is thought to be emblematic of Cambridge.
Tour books and Wikipedia do not offer a quality in which Kings College is meant to represent, so I’ll leave that question open to you.
By this point, we were pretty hungry. After exploring the restaurants by the River Cam for any vegan food we settled on Côte Brasserie for brunch. The food was fine; I got the impression that they may have been taken aback by their popularity that afternoon. On a quieter day, they may be more attentive.
Still, we were on our brunch date and goddammit if we weren’t cute so I didn’t really care that service was a little slow.
While walking off brunch we stumbled across a beautiful wedding dress store. Joah rushed ahead like the stereotype he is, but the layout and hidden quality of the store made me pause and take a photo. It was the most instagrammable store in Cambridge!
Finally, our day was drawing to a close but not before we went into the Cambridge University Press (where our love for non-fiction was fully realized like the nerds we are) and Hardys Sweet Shop!
I love sweet shops like this, they are reminiscent of that Candy Man scene in the beginning of Willy Wonka; jam-packed with every kind of confectionary fancy. Plus, given the rise of free-from diets both Joah and I could indulge a little. He picked up a sugar-free milk chocolate bar, and I grabbed some vegan chocolate with honeycomb *drool*.
Although I probably would not return to Cambridge to continue looking at the buildings, I loved our explore around the city. I’m sure we only scratched the surface of what Cambridge has to offer and I want to believe that we just caught it on a bad day — fingers crossed.