Welcome to part 2 of ‘My Favourite Places’!
Today I want to introduce you to somewhere a little closer to home. There’s plenty of history and character in this small but well-known English city, as well as great independent shops and restaurants. I spent six weeks of summer working for an English language summer camp in the city – I regularly had to give tours and lead excursions for students and really grew to love it there!
Welcome to Cambridge!
Cambridge Top 3:
- Exploring the colleges – The University of Cambridge is one of the most famous educational institutions in the world and it is comprised of 31 separate colleges. Each has its own unique qualities, and you can easily walk between the best known colleges from the centre of Cambridge. King’s College is obviously one not to be missed, a great example of late Gothic English architecture. Admission to the chapel ranges from £5.50 – £7, but if you pay to enter any college in Cambridge it really should be King’s!
Another personal favourite is St. John’s College, which boasts nine Nobel Prize winners in its alumni. Visiting St. John’s will cost between £3.50 – £5, and check the websites of these colleges before your visit for opening dates and times! St. John’s has absolutely beautiful grounds and the buildings look like something out of Harry Potter…
- Punting – No trip to Cambridge is complete without trying your hand at punting. Now, as I said, I found myself living in Cambridge for the summer whilst working at a kid’s summer camp. I was essentially an activity leader and took groups of 5/6 foreign teenagers punting weekly. I have to admit to you: I am really, really bad at it. Like really, unbelievably bad at it.
I had made it three weeks into the summer without actually having to punt myself (Find the group of Russian boys. Sit in the boat. Make them do the work). Suddenly, week four, and I was thrown into a boat with six 14-year-old Chinese girls. Camp policy was no under-15s punting, so before I knew it, I was being pushed away from shore, pole in hand, with absolutely no idea what I was doing and six nervous, culture-shocked teenagers looking expectantly at me.
To cut a long story short, I got us approximately 15 metres from where we started, got stuck under a bridge, couldn’t turn around, couldn’t get the boat back to shore, and cried in the middle of the Mill Pond while my colleagues laughed from the banks. It is safe to say I was never asked to punt again.
BUT if you are so inclined to give it a go, it is an enjoyable and relaxing way to spend a sunny afternoon – the Cam takes you behind many of the famous colleges. It is cheaper to hire the punt and have a go yourself, but you can also hire a punt with chauffeur who will also be able to tell you what you’re looking at. Personally I wouldn’t spend money hiring a chauffeured punt, but instead let your mother/brother/boyfriend/child do the hard work for you, so you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy!
- Food! – Cities across England are looking more and more alike, as the same high street shops and food chains open up from Newcastle to Exeter, so I love it when cities have their own unique charm, independent restaurants and bars. Cambridge has plenty, offering an array of cuisines to cater for the massive variety of tourists and students in the city. Unfortunately during my summer in Cambridge I had to eat school dinners most nights, but on my days off, my friends and I would explore the different eateries and bars.
Right at the end of the street we were living on is The Cambridge Brew House – due to the nature of our job, we were not allowed to drink at an establishment so close to our residences (incase kids saw and all-hell broke loose…), but it was always busy which is always a good sign! I loved the floral hanging baskets and hip interior.
A favourite for food was Clowns, run by a friendly and welcoming Italian woman – the lasagne is to die for!
I had another great meal at Byron Burger – although this is technically a chain I guess, there isn’t one of these restaurants in Leicester – I think you can find them across London and in a handful of other locations. The interior was really cool, great atmosphere although rather loud. I had the chicken burger (nothing to write home about), and my friend and I shared courgette fries (unreal) and the mac and cheese (out of this world). The milkshakes were reaaaal good too!
Finally, a pub called Fort St. George. This place felt like a hidden gem. On the banks of the river, across Jesus Green, there were fairy lights strung up during the summer giving it an air of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, romantic charm. Great for evening drinks with friends or a date, after a lovely summer’s day.
So, there’s my top three for Cambridge! There’s plenty more to discover in this beautiful city, including all the colleges. I’d also recommend a trip out to see Ely Cathedral, not too far a drive from Cambridge. It is absolutely stunning. We found a tea rooms with the best views of the cathedral, where we enjoyed tea, scones, jam and clotted cream for a perfectly English afternoon!