Dad had a conference in Cambridge, so the rest of the family tagged along for a vacation. Yay! We only had two days in Cambridge, but it seems that most people say that there’s not much to do in Cambridge anyway, except visit colleges and go punting, so the time that we had was plenty. Though, I quite like the pace of life in Cambridge and wouldn’t have minded spending a few extra cosy days there.
After a 13-hour trip, we finally made it from Beijing to London Heathrow. The line for passport control was crazy; it took us 1 hour to get through. Some airport people were wheeling around boxes of bottled water to hand out to the people waiting in line, which was super thoughtful. My brothers and I exhausted every hand game we could think of (007, slide, chopsticks, etc.). We had a lot of fun playing a word game that takes too long to explain so I won’t. After getting through passport control, baggage claim, and customs, we took a 2-hour drive to our Airbnb in Cambridge.
By the time we arrived, it was pretty late, so after dropping our luggage off, we went in search for dinner and settled for Nando’s. For some reason, it feels like a lot of Youtubers I subscribe to love Nando’s, so I was excited to try it for the first time. My family and I ordered a Full Platter (a whole chicken and 2 large sides) and a Wing Platter (10 wings and 2 large sides).
On our way to Nando’s, I was struck by the charming houses with colourful doors and the bikes resting on every fence. I’m gonna toot my own horn and say that I love the photos I took of The Zebra and The Hopbine (both are pubs). There was a guy sitting on the windowsill of The Zebra and smoking a cigarette, which seemed so peaceful and picturesque (although I cannot stand cigarette smoke), and there was another guy sitting on the windowsill of The Hopbine. I’d make a photography collection of guys sitting in windowsills if it was something I came across more often.
We kicked the day off with breakfast at Espresso Library: coffee, tea, orange juice, and chicken, spinach, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomato sandwiches. The beverages arrived first, which I quickly arranged for a flatlay. As I was snapping away, the barista came over with our sandwiches and asked whether I wanted the sandwiches in the photos too. I gave a meek laugh and said, yes thank you. It must have been an interesting sight: my family of five sat at one end of a long table for ten or so people, everyone’s breakfast placed in front of me.
Fueled for the day, we set off for our first stop, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. We spent the whole morning there and then some. I have so many pictures from the botanic garden! Tune in to the blog on Monday for the full blog post.
By the time we made our way through the botanic garden, we were starving again. For lunch, we sought out Cambridge Chop House. I had planned for us to try out Smokehouse, because I had seen it recommended on some blogs. But Mom found Cambridge Chop House, and since it had the name “Cambridge” in it, we opted for it instead. When we arrived at Cambridge Chop House, we found out that Cambridge Chop House, Smokeworks, and a bunch of other restaurants are part of the same network(?) (CambsCuisine). I figured since we tried Cambridge Chop House, we didn’t need to hit up Smokeworks anymore. It’s probably all just steak and chips anyway.
Our next attraction was King’s College Chapel. It was aight. Probably woulda been cooler to be there for a performance by the King’s College Choir. Right across the street was Fudge Kitchen, which I had found out about online, so the family (minus Dad) checked it out whilst Dad took his sweet time photographing the chapel, as per usual. When we entered Fudge Kitchen, one guy offered us free fudge to try. They advertise their free fudge, so I didn’t feel pressured to pretend I wanted to buy anything afterward. The guy was super cool. There were some people standing under the awning outside Fudge Kitchen because it was raining, so he called out to them to offer them free fudge, to which they said they already had, to which he said he didn’t care and that they should take more if they wanted more. He was so chill. Whilst mixing fudge, he caught me and some tourists snapping photos of him, but he smiled for me because I had a camera and the rest of them were using their phones hoho. Like, he said that. (He was just playfully bantering with the tourists.)
Mom and I also made a detour to the Cambridge Satchel Company right around the corner from Fudge Kitchen because Dad still wasn’t finished taking photos of the chapel. I fell in love with the traveller bag in oxblood (as I mentioned in my July-in-review blog post), but they didn’t have the size I wanted in stock. They were able to check with the London flagship store, but I didn’t end up buying it.
After King’s College Chapel/Fudge Kitchen/Cambridge Satchel Company, Dad wanted to check out Trinity College, which was also nearby (everything is so close to each other), so we walked over, but it turned out to be closed(?). That didn’t deter Dad though. We trooped onward to catch a glimpse of River Cam. I literally walked up the bridge to snap one photo of the river and then headed back. On any other day I would have enjoyed strolling around River Cam, but it was raining.
After that, we had planned to hit up the Fitzwilliam Museum, but it turned out to be closing in less than an hour, so we decided to save that for the next day. Instead, we spent the rest of the day at Fitzbillies; they’re famous for their Chelsea buns. In addition to sharing a Chelsea bun, the five of us also shared an afternoon tea for one. We weren’t that hungry; we just wanted the experience.
Dad was away for a conference on this day (the reason for our trip to Cambridge/London/Paris), so Mom, my brothers, and I were left to our own devices. The four of us headed out to have breakfast at The Orchard Tea Garden. It was a bit out of the way, so we caught an Uber over. Usually I wouldn’t add something so out of the way to our itinerary, especially for a two day trip, but there isn’t much to do in the quiet town of Cambridge anyway, so why not? I saw this place recommended by a few blogs.
We were the first customers of the day so we had our pick of the tables. I was looking forward to sitting out in the orchard, but it had rained overnight, so the tables and chairs were kinda gross. Instead, we sat in the comforts of the indoors.
The Orchard Tea Garden is a place to take your time at, to think, to read, to work, to chat. Lots of famous people have done their thinking and eating here. My family is not one to take their time (except for Dad, who wasn’t with us this day). For the record, I would have loved spending an afternoon reading or journaling there.
After what was more of a light snack, we caught an Uber to lunch at Pint Shop but arrived a few minutes before it opened, so we roamed the surrounding shops until opening time. We spent quite a bit of time at one shop called Ark. It was the signage that drew us in: “gifts for interesting people.” I left with a rubber shark for 75p (just so I can pull it out of my bag and start singing baby shark doo doooo doo doo da da dooooo), and Danny left with a wood woodpecker. There was also a Mama Hedgehog plushie that was sooooo cute. Alas, it was not something I needed to spend £28 on.
After lunch, we popped by Jack’s Gelato for dessert, where I got a rose and raspberry sorbet and Danny got an elderflower sorbet. Then the only thing I had planned for the rest of the day was the Fitzwilliam Museum, which my brothers weren’t interested in, so they walked home, leaving Mom and me. Mom had a phone meeting right after lunch, so I found a cafe we could sit at until she finished, after which we could finally head to the museum.
The cafe I found was Indigo Coffee House. According to the internet, it’s a popular place for college students. How authentic :3 We sat outside so that Mom’s call wouldn’t disturb customers. It was a bit chilly outdoors, but the caffe mocha I ordered warmed me right up… and it also secured our spot at the coffee house so that we wouldn’t be considered loiters lol. Next door was a book store, so I checked that out whilst waiting for Mom, but it was an antique book shop with books I wouldn’t actually read, so I soon headed back to the cafe to finish up my mocha and wait for Mom. The coffee house was within distance of the eduroam wifi network that many colleges (including mine) use, which was awesome.
The Fitzwilliam Museum was a strange museum with a seemingly random collection, but it was free. Mom made some interesting comments about the art like “画得好丑哦” (translates roughly as: the painting is ugly). My favourite piece was “Pyramid form” by Colin Reid: “Clear, lost-wax cast glass, with white inclusions, the base partly coloured Prussian blue.”
With all the things I wanted to do in Cambridge done, we headed back to our Airbnb and grabbed dinner from Bread and Meat for everyone on the way. We also passed by a chocolate shop called Chocolat Chocolat and bought caramel with mint crisp chocolate bark and chocolate stirring spoons for hot chocolate. The shop is also known for their gelato, but since I already had gelato earlier in the day, I decided to pass.
We didn’t do too much in Cambridge this day except pack up, grab a quick lunch at Wasabi (an average experience), and hang out at Chill#2 with a latte and some chamomile tea until our ride to London arrived. Ken liked the barista’s accent and I liked his hair, though I don’t remember what his hair looks like anymore. I wish I knew how to take pictures of strangers in a non-creepy way.
Have you visited Cambridge before? Do you have any other recommendations?
Up next on the blog, you can look forward to a blog post on the Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Monday, and a full post on London on Wednesday!