Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adventures In England--Day 15

Saturday, April 2, 2011 Today we bought train tickets for a get-a-way to Cambridge. Cambridge is about two hours north of Epsom so we made sure to get to the train station pretty early so we could have a full day to explore Cambridge. We left the apartment a little later than we wanted to so we ran pretty much the whole way to the station...we arrived with two minutes to spare! The first train from Epsom to Vauxhall was on-time with no engineering work so we were pretty excited. A lot of train lines and underground lines do engineering work on the weekends so the commuters aren't bothered during the week but it makes traveling rough for everyone on the weekend. The train staff told us the way to travel so we would get away from all the lines that were being worked on. We got off at Vauxhall and headed to the Victoria underground line. We ran from the Vauxhall station to the Victoria underground line and we made it just before the doors closed. The train didn't take off though...instead, the conductor came over the speakers and informed all the passengers that there was a fire brigade inspecting a suspicious situation and that the Victoria line was experiencing severe, severe delays. We then pulled out our map and tried to reroute us to King's Cross Station, which is where we needed to catch the train that was heading to Cambridge. We hurried back upstairs so we could choose a different line but the North line and the Central were closed completely and the Victoria line was suspended. The information help at the train station told us to wait out the suspension so we headed back downstairs to the train. Pretty quickly after we got there, the conductor told us that the train would be ending at the next stop, Victoria Station, which was still 5 stops away from where we wanted to go. Once arriving at Victoria Station we started looking into different ways to get there but because there were still so many issues with the underground, it made alternative routes very difficult. Finally after running back and forth in between Circle line East and Circle line West trying to get on the next available train, we hear over the speakers that the Victoria line is now open. We ran from the Circle underground, upstairs to the Victoria line, down the stairs to the underground platform and safely planted our bums on a seat. After all the running around, we finally made it to King's Cross Station. From King's Cross our train was already there so we made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed the next 60 minutes of no running! We arrived in Cambridge and the sights were everywhere! The first thing we noticed was the huge parking area for bikes. Cambridge is definitely the cute college town with everyone on bikes. We headed from the station and towards the center of Cambridge. Cambridge is most famously known for Cambridge University, which is a group of old colleges in the town that make up the University. The oldest college, Petershouse, is about 1,200 years old...amazing, huh? There is definitely some history to be learned in Cambridge. Here is a picture of Jason at one of the many old churches that we found in Cambridge. Our first stop was the Fitzwilliam Museum is filled with art, medieval history, armour and statues. The museum was amazing but the building that held it all was even more eye-catching. It was unbelieveable! We finally made our way to the center of town and we bargained with a gentlemen for a punting tour down the River Cam. Punting is where someone stands on the back of a wooden boat and sticks a 16 foot pole down into the river and pushes off the river bottom. The punt is then used as a way to steer the boat, depending on which side of the boat the punt is dragged. I'm so glad that we made an attempt to go punting because it was awesome. The river had a very "Venice-feel" to it and it was such a beautiful day to be on the river. The tour that we went on was the college backs tour and it was very interesting to learn all the history that was in the universities.
In the beginning of our tour we went under the Mathematical Bridge, which is part of Queen's College. The Mathematical Bridge is pretty famous because of the story that goes along with it. Supposedly, the bridge was designed by Isaac Newton and was constructed with no bolts, using on the force of gravity to hold it all together. Some engineering students were instructed to dismantle the bridge and rebuild the bridge using Newton's technique. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful and weren't able to get it put back together without using bolts. The Mathematical Bridge now has metal bolts holding it together. Once we passed under the bridge, the colleges were everywhere--St. Catherine's College, King's College, Trinity College, St. John's College and Magdalene College. King's College Chapel is the most famous landmark in Cambridge. It was designed and built by Henry VIII.The rest of the tour was filled with libraries, student accomodation buildings and all the other buildings that make up the college backs. Once our tour was over, we had plenty of time to explore Cambridge before we had to catch the train back to Epsom. We walked around and took pictures of just about every building, statue and archway that we could find. Here is the Holy Sepulchre Round Church. It was built in 1130, which makes it the oldest building in Cambridge! Cambridge is such a fascinating town--so much history, beautiful views and stories to go along with just about every building, church and alleyway. Definitely a great way to spend our second weekend in England!

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