A weekend away
A few months into 2018, my travel exploits are taking on a rather local feel. Due to convenience and cost, my trips have been within the UK. To use my free time as effectively as possible I started to take long weekends away, beginning on a Friday evening and returning on Sunday. I have already visited many of the UK’s most beloved locations, but there is still much to explore on this small island of ours so in February I had a long weekend in Cambridge.
Cambridge before the big freeze
I always imagined Cambridge to be a beautiful peaceful place for a short visit. Travel time is not too far from London so heading up there on a Friday evening after work is no problem. To keep my costs at a minimum I took the coach, with the journey only taking two hours. Around one hour of that was just getting from Victoria Coach Station to East London, once outside London it is an hours drive. My coach was quite empty, which made for a relaxed journey to get me into an excited holiday mood. Probably a good time to travel by coach.
At this point, I’ll give you some context as to when my trip took place. It was the weekend before the Beast from the East hit the UK, so it was just getting that bit colder. When I stepped off the coach I had a fifteen-minute walk to the Ibis hotel by the train station. At 9.30 it was freezing! The fifteen-minute walk wasn’t too far but in cold temperatures, it felt twice as long. “why didn’t I just catch the train?” is a question that did cross my mind.
During this walk, I noticed several people riding around on bikes. It was the first insight into Cambridge lifestyle. When I arrived at the Ibis, I had the most modern experience of a hotel that I can remember. The entrance was more of the gateway to the restaurant and bar downstairs rather to the hotel. This confused me, so much so that I walked around the building to find a door to the reception and got a load of salt thrown at my feet from a truck going past (preparation for the snow, not a personal attack on me). When I did venture inside I was greeted by a friendly French girl (Ibis staff), who asked if I had a room reservation. There was no reception desk, instead, there was a narrow cabinet where the keys, computer and hotel stuff were stored. She found my reservation on her tablet and directed me to the lifts. The lack of a reception desk really threw me, so be aware of that if you do stay at the Ibis Cambridge.
A weekend graduation
My plan for what to do on Saturday was put together in haste. I was walking everywhere so I planned to visit places in a logical way. I started with the University of Cambridge Botanical Gardens, moving on to Fitzwilliam Museum, then Mathematical Bridge and finally looking at the Colleges. Doesn’t sound like much but it was enough to fill a day. What I did not anticipate was that the College’s were closed to the public that day, oops! I did though see students lining up outside King’s College waiting to graduate. They were the top students in the country all happy and excited about their future and the exciting times ahead. I wonder how long it will take for reality to hit?
A graduation is a lovely moment in one’s life. Ignoring my scepticism, it was an experience I enjoyed immensely. You have a feeling of great achievement and pure happiness that you share with those closest to you. It takes me back to a less complicated time.
University of Cambridge Botanical Garden
The majority of the photos I took during my stay in Cambridge were of the Botanical Garden. With the sky blue and the sun shining brightly, it was a perfect setting for a relaxing walk. The plants inside the greenhouses were very interesting. Everything was displayed with great attention to detail and led you on a journey through the greenhouse.
Inside the Greenhouse
One sure sign that the weather was getting colder was when I walked passed a fountain I witnessed ice sheets on top of the water. I’m feeling cold thinking about it.
I was expecting to find the buildings and colleges around Cambridge leaving the biggest impression on me. However, the botanical garden was an unexpected delight and the perfect thing to do on a weekend away.
No trip away is complete without going to a museum. Fitzwilliam is free entry and offers everything from paintings, to sculptures, ceramics and armour. It was a change of pace to what I had seen in the gardens, but it was no less relaxing. The most enjoyable part for me was the paintings because I have always had a fascination with art. I spent a lot of time in the museum and pretty much saw every collection. By the way, the cafe next to the shop is perfect to take a break from your exploring. The bake well tart is heaven!
My weekend to Cambridge will be remembered for bitter cold, spring scenery at the botanical gardens, a helping of history and culture at the Fitzwilliam Museum and experiencing a very modern approach to hospitality. Not being too far away to travel to from London, it makes for an ideal location for a weekend away. I must go back to partake in some punting though.
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