Cambridge. Gorgeous, lots to do and see, and ABSOLUTELY full of people. Little did we realize, even after arriving on the 23, that yesterday was graduation day in many of the colleges. Touring of the colleges was out (closed for exams and/or graduation ceremonies), and therefore, everyone was on the streets or queueing (lining up) for entry to the colleges’ graduation functions. Large tents on the commons, with very restricted entry through the gates, meant that the queues were also down the pavements (sidewalks) in front of the colleges. This made even getting photos of the exteriors was challenging.
However, the town is really interesting with many small lanes full of shops, pubs, and restaurants. We walked from the mooring (about 2km), then decided to accept one of the offers to go for a punt tour. We had more than 25 offers… The tour was interesting as the punt tour went along the ‘Backs’ which are the private banks of the river above the last lock. The guide was hard to hear, and somewhat bored with the process, and, being about 1m above the water (arms extended!), the photos seem to include a large amount of bankside. However, the queues were on the water and not along the banks, so we did get a good view of the other side of some of the famous colleges of Cambridge.
We paid to enter King’s College Chapel, one of the most famous buildings in England. This was worth the effort, as the chapel is really fantastic. The choir is famous for the annual carol service, recorded and broadcast each year before Christmas (as well as many other fine recordings). Being graduation time, there wasn’t an available service to attend, but there are lots of recordings available, as well as webcasts.
We walked much of the center of the town, visiting the market, a pub (or two) and then walked back to the boat along the river. There are lots of ‘squatting’ boats, moored along the river in places clearly marked no mooring. It is difficult to understand the complexities that the town council faces in solving this problem. However, this certainly does give a particular impression of boaters in general that I don’t appreciate much!
The fair on Midsomer commons was loud, raucous, and exuberant. We are about 1km from there, and could still here the clamour long into the night. Thank goodness we weren’t moored along that stretch of the river.
We have decided that the crowds, limited access, and mooring issues, plus having walked much of the town center, will lead us to move along today.
Cambridge is a great place and we would come back- perhaps choosing the time just a little more carefully. We like this university town better than the main competition (and that competition is evident everywhere!).