November 16, 2019
One of the many advantages to living overseas is the opportunity to stroll away the time on a Saturday afternoon. There was a time in my life when I was too busy to walk around a city, too self involved to wonder at the history built from the ground up, too concerned with doing more to realize that looking was enough.
Thank goodness, age and experience has swept those preconceptions away.
My son had a doctor’s appointment on the outskirts of Cambridge, England. The visit went well, and my family was out of the office by early afternoon. Since it was a forty minute drive to the location, we felt the best use of the gas was to drive into the city and explore for as long as the children would allow.
Cambridge relies heavily on the Park and Ride bus system, which allows visitors the city a place to park their vehicle and use public transportation within the city limits. This is the cheapest option available, but for this trip my husband decided to take his chances and park in one of the garages.
We chose the Park Street Car Park: 13 Park St, Cambridge CB5 8AS and paid 4 pounds, 90 pence for three hours of use. (This converted to approximately 6.50 dollars.) A steep price to pay, for sure, but well worth it for the location and space. There were ample spots available on the upper levels and our American minivan fit in with no trouble.
My husband and I did not bring a stroller or a baby carrier with us this afternoon, so we knew we would only be able to sight see as far as our young kids’ legs would handle. Our four year old isn’t known for her walking stamina, but we hoped the excitement of being in the city would propel her legs forward.
Taking an immediate right outside the car park, my family was able to make a large circle around some of the city sights and see quite a bit in a few block radius. Our path loosely resembled this:
Some of the first sights we passed on our walk were the Round Church, Hardy’s Original Sweet Shop, and Trinity College.
One block down, and my group found ourselves standing next to Great St. Mary’s Church, looking across the street at the magnificent Senate House and King’s College Chapel.
With green lawns that reminded me of the color of Ireland and Gothic spires touching the clouds, I couldn’t help but find a seat and gaze for a few minutes. While open to public at the hours we were there, I was content to stay outside and admire the history.
The chapel was first commissioned by Henry VI, but when the War of the Roses broke out, his plans were put on hold indefinitely. His nephew, Henry VII picked the work back up over 60 years later, and it was eventually completed by Henry VIII in 1515.
Moving past the most recognizable structure in Cambridge, I caught sight of the Corpus Clock. This “public art” is also referred to as Chronophage, meaning time eater, because of the way the grasshopper-like creature at the top eats away at time. It’s goal is to remind viewers of the inevitable passing of time. It’s certainly a sight worth catching if you’re near the Chapel.
Following a handful of side streets near St. Catharine’s College, our leisurely walk took us to the Mathematical Bridge. I’m sure this famous bridge is beautiful during all seasons, but capturing it with the fall foliage behind its wood was especially gorgeous. The punters floating underneath in the chilly waters also helped create the perfect image.
The bridge got its famous nickname due to the fact that all the timber involved are composed of straight lines (or tangents), but because of their strategic placement they appear arched- as if they had to bend the wood to create the curves. Take a closer look at the photo, and you can follow the pieces to see where each wood is placed.
Our walking tour of Cambridge concluded at the Grand Arcade, a multistory indoor shopping district fulls of shops and restaurants. It was heated and provided free restrooms, which made this a great ending point to freshen up before walking back to the car. My kids also discovered one of the best Disney stores; adding a touch of Disney to our adventures is always a sure fire way to win us over.
Three hours was not nearly enough time to see and explore Cambridge in its entirety, but it was more than enough to soak in the history and splendor that the historic city had to offer. Easy to navigate, clean streets, and abundant sites made a short afternoon in Cambridge with kids enjoyable and relaxing.