Crossing off Cambridge

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It’s strange. There are certain places that we daydream about seeing and then when we finally get to visit them… They aren’t quite what we expected.

For a long time, probably since I moved to England, I have wanted to see Cambridge. It has been sat there on my extensive list of places to visit in the UK and back in Easter I finally managed to cross it off the list. I don’t know exactly what I expected to find there but it wasn’t what I did find.

Actually, that’s not completely true. I used to watch a lot of Lewis back in Denmark when I dreamed of living here in England and I suppose somehow I expected Cambridge to look like that, even though I knew that was Oxford. I expected the city to look old, like scenes I’ve read in The Moving Toyshop, to see bicycling students on quiet streets, grand college buildings, green lawns, the famous Bridge of Sighs and boats gliding lazily down the River Cam. I expected to be able to snap a lot of lovely photographs of these things.

But instead what I saw was a bland, modern city, looking pretty much like any other city; There was the usual market square, selling a mixture of fresh flowers, cheap jewellery and freshly baked artisan bread. There was the sleek looking archade full of families and tourists, and the same kind of High Street with the same well-known brands you can find in any larger town in England.

The more I explored, the more I asked myself:

Where was the character?

Sure there were a few cute looking houses and some interesting architecture but not as much as I had expected. And if I am being honest to myself (and the rest of the world), I had a nice day with Daniel there but I was dissapointed.

I don’t know where I went wrong. For once I didn’t google Cambridge as I usually do before I go to a new place, as I wanted to experience it without any prior knowledge, prejudice or planning. Perhaps that was my mistake. Maybe I walked through the wrong parts of town, down all the wrong streets. Maybe if I had actually written down where to find the Bridge of Sighs or maybe if I had gone in a different time of year, where there would have been boats and green lawns down by the river, my experience of the city would have been very different. Or maybe it would have been exactly the same.

I will never know but what I do know is that, as we drove home I wasn’t that eager to go back to see it again and as Daniel pointed out: “It’s not as nice as Canterbury”. I’m afraid I can only agree with that, even if I did manage to get a few photos from that day that I was happy with.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Lea
    August 15, 2016 / 12:47 pm

    It could just simple be that I had unrealistic expectations from the beginning, but I was hoping to experience something like you are describing about Oxford. Exploring small streets and finding the city’s character. I didn’t really find any!
    I haven’t been to Oxford yet but it is on my list and I will get there one day!

  2. August 11, 2016 / 8:07 am

    Oh no! So sad Cambridge didn’t live up to your expectations. I have to say I kind of agree. Have you been to Oxford yet? Oxford is probably my favourite city in England. Much easier to find the character, get lost down little country lanes and paths (in the middle of the city!) and the museums are wonderful. I’ve only been to Cambridge once and that was to go to the Polar Museum (which is really good if you are into polar exploration) but besides that I found it really disappointing also. OXFORD FOR THE WIN!

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