Hogsmeade (Cambridge) in the Rain

The International Student House (ISH) organizes a number of events designed to help international students get acquainted to life overseas.  This includes a “travel club” with weekend outings– sometimes just a quick ride to a nearby city and other times to a different country in Europe.  I’m a bit skeptical of most tours, but ISH manages to put some pretty neat outings together that cost less if you just sign up and show up than if you were to do the work in organizing your own trip.  The “Candy & Cambridge” trip caught my eye, and I decided that the £25 investment was about as risk-free as I could get for a pre-planned Saturday getaway.

Our group of 14 students from various London universities met at 7:30am which required a 6:30am sunrise walk for me.* We took a large van, which felt quite odd since it had been nearly a month since I had been in a “proper vehicle”.  I’ve summarized the day through pictures below. Be sure to open the pictures to view the captions!

Part 1: Strolling the park

We arrived a bit before our punting trip was scheduled, which gave us time to stroll in the nearby park.

Part 2: Punting!

I originally thought this punting business was reserved for gullible tourists, but it turns out that it’s a rather common past time for students, too.  In fact, most of the colleges that have river frontage own their own rafts for the students to take out by themselves.

Note: I say college because Cambridge is made up of many different colleges which are similar to a fraternity / sorority house… or, let’s be real, one of the 4 houses at Hogwarts.

Part 3: Foot tour of the city

The rain began just in time for our tour.  I was very happy to have my umbrella with me, but my feet (in Birkenstocks) were about numb after a few hours.  Nevertheless, walking around the city was time well spent!

Awesome Prank: Car on the Senate House

The engineer in me was thrilled to see the Cambridge kids know how to put those physics lessons to good use. Read this article to learn more about how 13 students managed to get a vehicle on top of the Senate House (probably most comparable to UM’s Michigan Union)… in 1958.

Most adequate engineering principles at use. (Courtesy of Daily Mail)

Part 4: Honeydukes

The last part of this tour was spent making fudge at a local fudge shop.

The trip home passed rather quickly– as does most any activity when you attempt to participate whilst in a sugar coma.   Twas a wonderful (but quite wet) day, and I definitely hope to return to Cambridge again!

*Tangent Re: Transportation

Though public transportation runs reliably and frequently, in general, I walk unless my commute is going to be more than an hour.  Even though the tube ride would have only been a few minutes, by the time you:

  • walk to the tube station (4 minutes– I’m lucky enough to live next to Waterloo Station which is a pretty big hub, with connections for ),
  • walk through the station to the correct platform (6 minutes),
  • wait for a tube (2 minutes… up to 10 minutes if it is on the weekend when the routes run less frequently OR during a peak time when the tube is more packed than a Bursley Bates during lunch hour requiring you to wait for a few to pass before there is enough room for you to squeeze aboard),
  • ride the tube (7 minutes),
  • walk through the station until you are above ground (6 minutes), and finally
  • walk to your intended destination (5 minutes),

the ~45 minute walk looks quite pleasant.

 

Notable exceptions:

1. Don’t attempt to walk if you wish to look presentable and it is currently or will soon be raining. For all you London weather savvy people, you’ll realize that this instruction is a bit silly– how should this principle guide your life if:

  • a. the sky looks to be threatening rain ~90% of the time
  • b. the weather report is about as reliable as looking at the clouds
  • c. the rain swiftly changes from drizzle to very windy downpour and then back again.  This was the demise of my umbrella:

Feeling quite like a wet cat...

2. Don’t attempt to take the tube when there is a strike.  The next one has been announced for next week (Oct 14-16); read more about it in this article which states the reason for the strike as Tube ticket office closures.

“The axing of ticket offices and station staffing grades would render the Tube a no-go zone for many people with disabilities and for women travelling alone. The cuts ignore the realities of life that we saw when services broke down last week and the recent surveys which point to an increase in violence and sexual assaults.”

– James Rush, The Independent

Hmmm… any Tube traveler can tell you that some stations are quite unfriendly for people with disabilities regardless of whether or not there is someone in the ticket office.  (Recall my move-in adventure with 2 bags and multiple flights of stairs without an escalator or lift.)  Compare this apparent apathy with the care that the museum directors take to make culture accessible to people of all different backgrounds and abilities. I’ve been pondering this rather stark contrast over the last few weeks and will update you if I distill further thoughts…

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