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Cambridge and area, England

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • DNA, the neutron and the electron were discovered at the Old Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.
  • The word blazer originated as the name for bright red jackets worn by boat club members at St. John’s College
  • Wicken Fen is Britain’s oldest nature reserve (1899), started with the National Trust’s purchase of two acres for £10.
  • In the earliest days, students entered university at 14 or 15, and it took seven years to graduate.
  • One of every four residents cycles to work.

Of Nobel laureates and punters

Cambridge is a small city about 50 miles north of London. In the city and nearby towns and countryside, visitors can participate in all sorts of activities — from country walks or biking to skydiving and balloon flights; search out cathedral cities, historic castles and homes that housed kings, queens — and Oliver Cromwell, and visit any of several World War II museums and even the Cambridge American Military Cemetery.

Despite all the opportunities to relish a scenic and historically important patch of England, most overseas visitors come to Cambridge primarily because it is home to one of the world’s best-known universities.

This is a college town on steroids. To wit:

  • It’s tops for scholarship; one indicator is its Nobel Prize winners — 90 affiliates at last count, more than any other institution. Well before the Nobels, it nurtured the likes of Francis Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, John Milton, Lord Byron and Charles Darwin. Fifteen U.K. prime ministers studied at Cambridge as well as numerous other heads of state.
  • It’s a beautiful place. The university comprises a series of colleges, each with its own set of stately buildings and many with courtyards that visitors can wander through on most days. With colleges dating from medieval times, this arrangement adds up to a stunning campus set amid numerous green lawns and on the River Cam.  The best among the buildings is the King’s College Chapel, built between 1446 and 1547, especially noted for its gorgeous fan vaulting and its stained-glass windows. Visitors can walk in for a look or come for a concert or service.
  • Extracurricular activities have a special flavor, too. Hangouts are pubs — 88 at last count on the Cambridge Web site — as well as cafes and teashops. Visitors may sightsee from riverboats of various kinds, but the quintessential college approach is to punt — meaning to guide a punt (open boat) with a single oar while standing. These boats were designed for gathering reeds used to thatch roofs.  As for college sports: Visitors may watch rowing crews in training or puzzle out the “action” in a game of cricket. Or maybe try snooker (a billiards game).

Things to do for Venturers

  • Learn to be a punter. A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, meant for use in small rivers or other shallow waters. As the punter, you will propel your punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. These days, punting opportunities are largely limited to Cambridge and Oxford.
  • Make the rounds of some of the town’s 88 pubs. Keep up with the students if you can.
  • Enjoy one of the prettiest hikes of your life: Walk along the banks of the River Cam from Cambridge to the picture-perfect village of Grantchester.
  • Cambridge boasts scores of sundials. See how many you can find, and see if you can work out the six-sided dial on 16th century Gate of Honour.
  • Rent a bicycle and follow one of many cycling routes. Cycling maps are available at the Guildhall in town and the tourist information center.
  • Test your skills at snooker.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Tour the brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, about 18 miles out of Cambridge.
  • See Cambridge from the Cam River aboard an open-sided touring vessel.
  • Join a ghost tour, a popular way to learn more about the history of a medieval town. This could be a combination walking and punting ghost tour.
  • Get tickets to a game of rugby.
  • If visiting in the summer, attend a jousting tournament at the nearby Hedingham Castle.
  • Come for the Cambridge Winter Ale Festival. Or come in summer for food-focused festivities, called Gourmet Europe.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend a student theatrical production, or a poetry reading, or a public lecture.
  • See a cricket match. These days, competitors could be Cambridge women as well as Cambridge men.
  • Also, attend an organ recital or a concert in King’s College Chapel, perhaps the best-known of all the buildings in Cambridge.
  • The buildings in Cambridge are a delight to see, but take a stroll to look for the small things, too: a plaque at Emmanuel College that remembers John Harvard, a former Emmanuel student for whom Harvard College in Cambridge, Mass., was named, and the memorial at Little St. Mary’s Church to Godfrey Washington, a former vicar and George Washington’s great uncle. The Washington family crest of stars and stripes reminds viewers of the U.S. flag.
  • Make the rounds of the top attractions in Cambridge on a pedicab tour.
  • Find your way to a teashop for a little afternoon relaxation.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Visit Cambridge at www.visitcambridge.org