Sunday, November 02, 2008

We Finally Went to Cambridge

Brad and I finally tore ourselves away from our warm house and all the election coverage (with which I have been driving myself crazy) and finally, finally took a little excursion. We have been in Norwich since the day we arrived in England, September 9, and nearly two months later, we finally stumbled our way to the train station and made our way to Cambridge.

I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting; actually, I was expecting a sort of medieval rural township where people still ride horses as a viable means of transportation and "take" tea, which I realize now was a terrible idealization partially based on the BBC series of Tess of the D'Urbervilles that played here a few weeks ago (which I highly recommend, to anyone interested in that sort of thing). Once we arrived in Cambridge, it dawned on me that of course it would be a compact town full of walls and turrets, since it's been there for centuries and at some point has most likely had to keep a steady defense against invaders, right? I'm not sure why the University buildings were so reinforced, however. I know that they've been there for about 800 years and perhaps the best way to really cripple a society is to knock out their best minds, but it was a little imposing.

Trinity Lane

Trinity College is behind that wall, and I know I come from UC Berkeley, where everything is ostensibly all trees and peace, but this seems like an awfully severe learning environment. Actually, despite having a vast collection of beautiful buildings and a river on which to go punting, Cambridge was, in general, sort of severe. I blame it partially on the weather, though; it's been getting a bit grey and blustery lately. The fall colors, however, lightened things up.

Clare College courtyard

Alright, it still looks a little dreary, but it was pretty in person. That was the courtyard of Clare College - see, Cambridge University is actually comprised of about 30 colleges spread all throughout the town, some of them bigger and more famous than others. There was one that we didn't see, called Magdalene College, that didn't allow women in until 1988. What?

The biggest and arguably most famous is King's College, and I admit that it was quite impressive. Even with the crush of sightseers, I stopped to snap some pictures.

King's College

Bradley at King's College

Aside from the various Colleges, the town was very charming and laid out with the same twisty, discombobulating street plan as Norwich. I never knew which way we were pointed. There were plenty of shops and restaurants and charming alleyways and an outdoor market where one could buy candles or ponchos or books or fresh vegetables or ostrich burgers... what's that you say? Ostrich burgers? Yes. Brad sampled it. I couldn't bring myself to do it. And, in keeping with the overtly intellectual attitude of the city, there was very little graffiti, and the graffiti that was present was, well, very intellectual. For example:


I don't understand it either. There was another one that said E = MC2 = Beethoven Construct, and around it there were comments and responses that were equally obtuse. It was very exciting.

We spent most of the day roaming through the courtyards of the various colleges and visiting museums and looking in at all the confectioners and window-shopping, and in the end, I'd say it was a much-needed break from the breakneck speed of the last month and a half. It also took my mind off the proximity of November 4, a date which is currently bringing me much trepidation. There are a few dates like this coming up - due dates of papers and applications, mostly, but the 4th is the real doozy. It's difficult being so far away from the U.S. at a time like this, despite my general joy at being out of the country for the time being. Hopefully by the next time I sit down to write on this blog, everything will have worked out famously.

So, good luck to all of us. Remember - never give up! Never surrender!*

*That's from the movie Galaxy Quest, which is brilliant. Credit where credit is due.


silvergirl said...

oh, man- that graffiti is hilarious. i'll bet whoever wrote the pi equation is pretty chuffed with him/herself...! Nat is actually trying to figure out the reasoning behind it... "number of letters in their name? Milton is sort of expansive, whereas Blake is more focused? ::rumination::, that's a tricky one."
Oh, dear. i guess this means we should never, ever, move to Cambridge. i shall live vicariously through your posts.
Also, another English word that should help you fit right in: knackered. For more on why, please see the following Eddie Izzard clip:
...just skip to 6:18 and you'll see. Plus you should probably just watch all of it, because the man is a genius. And lastly, i do hope you're eating lots of pasties. Mmmmm, Cornish pasties...

baystar_one said...




ah britannia, how quaint.


sq meals said...

Katie & Brad, thanks for sharing the excursion through Cambridge!!
Glad that you two made time to get out and away.