When you hear the words road trip, you automatically think route 66, exciting places, camper van, awesome people.
When you hear the words bus tour, you automatically think old people, England, drizzly weather, service stops, boring get-away.
I have just returned home from a fab weekend away on a bus tour. I went with my cousin who is the same age as me and my grandparents who are over 70. It was great value for money and we all had a great time. Plus! because it was a bus trip, meaning we had a chauffeur the entire weekend, that meant we could nurse a hangover Sunday morning whilst still managing to see all the sights!
Saturday, we stopped off at Cambridge for a few hours; city number one. As we arrived at the outskirts of Cambridge on the coach, the houses were awesome, great mansions. The kind only rockstars can afford! There wasn’t that much traffic, i think when you start to go down south, your initial thought is it’s going to be manic. It wasn’t. But there were lots of bicycles. Lots. Whizzing through the streets like Harry Potter on his broomstick!
I have never been to Cambridge and expected a bunch of snotty nose snobby students, looking down their noses at our slightly northern accents and common tongue. It was lovely. King’s college looked amazing in the sunshine as we got off the bus and set off on our first adventure. The architecture, distinctly Gothic and I had no trouble romanticizing it at all!
The streets were crawling with tourists and there were people busking and selling punting excursions. It was great to get away from the hum-drum of everyday familiarity and meet the bustling streets with eyes wide open. Exciting! There was a great market on, offering fresh foot and vegetables, pashminas, scarves, handbags, antiques, and butchered meats! Making my way through the crowds it was obvious that the weather was only going to get warmer too!
We had a lovely afternoon tea in Marks & Spencers (my nan’s favourite) we had chocolate fudge cake and lattes, giving us just enough energy to continue our expedition. We decided to pay the extra cost to go on a punting tour; the young lad who was selling the tickets was clearly unprepared for my nan’s brazen ways. We all laughed as she made him write ‘Paid in full’ on the receipt. He shrewd perception and wit making it impossible for her to take this fellow on face value. The very popular punting tour would give us an opportunity to see all the colleges in their splendor without having to walk there! My feet were starting to hurt! Our punter guide was extremely knowledgeable and made the tour fun by adding in his little jokes about the feud between Cambridge and Oxford and how the architects were mostly drunk when designing the buildings years ago. My nan only made the journey more humorous by answering every question our guide asked, directly. Ha! The lovely young couple seated next to us taken aback by our northern charm! The sun was shining and the heat was amazing, it was like being on an excursion abroad! It was lovely and well worth booking!
St John’s College was supposed to have a clock on the tower so that the students would always be on time for lectures, however the architect didn’t want to interrupt the symmetry of the building- it is also believed that he ran out of money! Whether that is a joke, I don’t know! However, when trinity college started doing very well, the architect decided he wouldn’t have the eagle facing the rival college and he turned its head left – breaking the symmetry!
After the punt jaunt we had another walk around the city, stopped to get our bearing just outside a lovely Arts and Crafts market. Whilst i was wandering aimlessly, I started to hear drums and chanting. Confused I made my way back to where my little group were perched. I then witnessed a perfectly amicable protest, people chanting about getting the ‘tories out and ‘get rid of the scum!’ waving banners and flags. It was great to see that people are able to express their opinions and fight for what they believe in -without violence.
By this time, our feet were hurting but the sun was shining. The only thing that was difficult about Cambridge, was finding the high street shops. Everything was spread out. But we found a great shopping center with a massive New Look with lots of sales- so I can’t complain too much! I managed to get some lovely cut-out sandals for, black leather ones for £10! Anyway, I’m digressing…
We then fought through a sea of tourists, large groups of ethnic varieties; all angling their cameras at the Gothic splendor, and made our way back to the coach. As we began our short journey to our lodgings for the night; The Hilton Hotel at Milton Keynes, there were a few things that stuck in my mind about Cambridge. I could see why directors wanted to film Harry Potter there, I was never posh (or clever) enough to go to Cambridge university and I have never seen so many bicycles!
Please keep your eyes open for A Tale of Two Cities. Part 2: Oxford – where I’ll be telling you all about our night at the Hilton and our adventure in Oxford!