It couldn’t be any lovelier. I mean, really. Gorgeous old university city, a river running through it, quaint old shops, narrow streets. Full – and I mean FULL – of tourists and hen parties.
The Champions League theme (sorry)
Lost In Vinyl
Cambridge is a city of contrasts. It’s ancient, venerable, learned. It’s full of pubs and pissed-up girls in tight dresses with sashes that say ‘maid of honour’. It’s the home of Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking. It’s home to a chain-store high street and a crazy summer festival called ‘Strawberry Fair’, full of stoned New Agers. Everyone cycles everywhere. You can’t visit the colleges when the exams are on (late May/early June). It’s entrancing. We loved it.
We walked around the city on a Saturday afternoon, watched the river become swamped with punts, the crowds hanging off the bridges, storming through the streets. We then got up at 6am on Sunday and did the whole walk again, through the Backs, around the colleges and had the city to ourselves, which was amazing to see – all clean, green squares, the perfect river, the bridges, the mellow old stone.
No wonder people come to Cambridge to study and never want to leave. We were there for a weekend and found it impossible to tear ourselves away. It’s not cool. There’s no real indie ‘vibe’. But then when a city is this lovely, who cares?
What a find! Close to the station side of town, this is a refurbed pub with lovely staff, a great line in oven-baked pizzas and lots of nice ciders, too. There’s a tiny beer garden and a specials menu and we loved it.
Quirky and charming and close to the river. The pub garden is great (full when we were there) and they have a top selection of ciders, too.
The Station Tavern
Bright and brash, this was full of smartly dressed families celebrating birthdays, a few hen parties and some lone wolves on the pull. Nice surroundings, but the atmosphere was lacking.
Old, old, old, this is full of tourists wanting to drink in the RAF Bar (full of wartime graffiti) or where famous scientists Watson and Crick supped an ale and worked out the secrets of DNA.
Posh sushi bar with a glittery interior and lovely staff. We had some Japanese-inspired cocktails and threw caution to the wind with our expensive dinner. Lots of great izakaya food (things on sticks) but book in advance if you don’t want to eat at the bar.
Pure tuck-shop fare here – the buns are legendary – and it’s a cute, wooden-floored cafe, too. Buying buns from Fizbillies is a Cambridge tradition and it’s one we definitely recommend adhering to.
The Copper Kettle
Just over the road from the glory of Kings College, we had a top-notch brekkie here, with lots of Turkish-inspired elements. It’s one of the oldest cafes in Cam, allegedly, and it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but it was perfect for an early Sunday fry-up.
Racks of fab vintage and second-hand stuff, all well curated and clean. Good for a rummage and there’s a nice selection for men and women, too.
Lost In Vinyl
Beautifully well-ordered record collection with some great bargains to be had. And all in neat rows, which some might find off-putting (but which I liked).
What we did:
Wandered across the Backs, wishing the beautiful colleges were open to visitors. The sun was shining, the river was pretty and then we saw the hordes of punters, crashing into each other, and decided not to go punting after all. Kept ourselves hydrated with lots of cider. Visited the Scott Polar Research Institute and marvelled at the tales of derring-do in the snow and ice.
The Champions League theme
Sorry but it was EVERYWHERE. ‘The Chammmppioonsssssss!!’ And then Juventus got battered by Real Madrid and it wasn’t so much fun anymore. Boo.
What we bought:
Chelsea buns and ginger beer from Fitzbillies (could it be any more Famous Five?), which we ate on the Silver Street bridge, watching the punts collide. A copy of Gerry Rafferty’s Night Owl from Lost In Vinyl, which was only £3 (bargain).
Where we stayed:
House Of The Dead / Crazy golf?:
No way. In Cambridge? It’d probably be illegal.