England is a pretty small country. About the size of Michigan, in fact. And so while it doesn't make it so great being crammed in here with 60 million other people, it does make taking day trips to some beautiful and historic places very possible.
So possible, in fact, that a friend and I headed to Cambridge for the day.
A few fun facts:
-Last year in 2009 Cambridge celebrated it's 800th year as a University. One of the oldest olleges is Clare College, named after a woman who had been disallowed from attending the university as she was a "lady of disrepute". A few rich (and dead) husbands later, she made a large donation. I guess money has been speaking for a very long time.
-The following is the site of the first bridge over the River Cam. Hence: CamBridge
-It is illegal for anyone except for the Queen (and a few select members of King's College at Cambridge) to eat swan meat, for the commoners the offence is tantamount to treason. They are all by default property of the Queen. How often she eats them I'm not sure (and what if she wanted to share a meal? They are pretty big...)
- Prince Charles attended Cambridge. King's College to be specific (fitting, no?). One of the national newspapers reported on his bodyguard, who, having sat through all of the lectures, also sat the final exam. He scored better than the future King. It's not what you know, people, it's who you know.
-Punting. A fancy word whose etymology I don't know (and am too lazy to look up) but assume is just "boating" because Cambridge likes to think they're smarter than everyone else. So yes, punting is a fancy word for boating on the River Cam. The boats are all 23' long with 4 rows of seats, made of wood and have a flat bottom. They were designed specifically for the river as it is very shallow and traditional boats wouldn't pass through it. They are maneuvered down the river gondola-style, but instead of paddling they push the long stick along the stony bottom. Most rivers had muddy bottoms. The Cam, however, was filled with stones by enterprising merchants who refused to pay travel taxes to the University for travelling on their land. As the river is shallow and public domain, that is where they chose to travel.
-Here are just a few more photos of the various bridges, colleges and greenery.
The Bridge of Sighs.
Really beautiful until you realise those gray things in the back are graves.
My friend Sarah and I as we enjoyed a cloudy day on the river Cam.
-How quintessentially English is this guy?! He looks like he is straight out of a movie. I know no real English people that dress like this. But I do give him a lot of style points!