Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation

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Day 5: Cambridge
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Day 5: Cambridge
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United Kingdom


Travelodge Swavesey


Sunny with a high of 22C

Day 5: Saturday, September 9, 2006     Cambridge, England

Goodbye London, Hello Right-Hand Driving

We got up early and caught the Tube to Victoria Station, south of Parliament, to pick up a rental car.  (On a side note, we purchased a 3-day Underground pass while we were in London.  If you are going to London, it is really the only way to get around  - it is efficient, fast and covers the whole city.)  Thank God it was a Saturday and there was not much traffic early in the morning for my first day of driving on the right-hand side of the car and on the left-hand side of the road. 

We droved back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and only got lost at little bit.  Got honked at.  It took over an hour to drive out of the greater London area and reach the M11 motorway.  Got honked at.  We then took the motorway northeast and got off an hour later.  Got honked at.  We drove to our hotel, the Travelodge on the A14 motorway at Swavesey, just outside Cambridge (see photo in left margin).  We dropped off our luggage and drove into Cambridge and finally found a place to park.

Our right-hand drive Toyota Versa

The city of Cambridge is a quaint old English university town.   It lies approximately 50 miles (80 km) north-northeast of London and is surrounded by a number of smaller towns and villages. Cambridge is best known for the University of Cambridge which was founded in 1209.   According to the 2001 census, the population was 108,863 (including 22,153 students).  It was another warm day and we had a great time walking through the town and the university, taking in the sites. 

Sydney St., Cambridge

The River Cam, a 40 mile tributary of the River Great Ouse, flows through Cambridge.  One of the famous pastimes in Cambridge is to rent a flat bottom boat, called a punt, and go punting on the Cam.  You can pole yourself or hire a university student to be your punter, for about 20 each.   It seemed pretty expensive and we almost decided not to do it.  However, after watching other neophytes struggle with the long poles, we decided to bite the bullet and have someone else do all the work.  This was a truly great decision

Punts on the River Cam

as the next hour was spent relaxing in the boat while our punter, actually an Oxford student (the Other School), described the names and the history of each building we passed.  There were several locals picnicking along the shore.  This turned out to be one of Ken's favourite parts of the whole vacation - and we almost didn't do it because it was too 'expensive'.  Kathryn has a motto about shopping that she calls "Errors of Omission" which states that it is a mistake not buy something you like if you can't come back and get it later.  This became our motto for deciding what to do on the rest of our vacation.

Kathryn 'enjoying' the ride

After we finished our punt ride, we found the Eagle , a famous pub in Cambridge.  It was a good find for both of us.  Kathryn discovered that on Feb. 28, 1953, Francis Crick walked into the Eagle pub in Cambridge, England, and, as James Watson later recalled, announced that "we had found the secret of life." Actually, they had. That morning, Watson and Crick had figured out the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. And that structure a "double helix" that can "unzip" to make copies of itself confirmed suspicions that DNA carries life's hereditary information.  Kathryn, being a biology teacher was excited about this.  Ken, being a math teacher, was excited because they served very good beer at the Eagle.

Kathryn reading the Eagle's history

We went back to our car and used a machine to pay our parking ticket.  We had been there a little over 5 hours.  The first 5 hours cost us about 4 and the extra portion of an hour (15 minutes) costs us an additional 7.  What a rip-off!  We drove back to the hotel.  Got honked at.  My first day of driving on the 'wrong' side of the road was very stressful and by now, my knees were killing me from all the walking we had been doing.  Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find ice anywhere in Britain.  We did manage to find a cheap collapsible vinyl cooler which we put to good use for the rest of our vacation whenever we did manage to find ice.

Click here for a slide show of Day 5 photos.

Day 6

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