Day 04 - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - Motor to York; Visit & Walk Around Cambridge; Free Time to Explore York
This morning we had our breakfast to the sounds of the Beatles singing Penny Lane - are we in Liverpool? No, but London has been fantastic!
We were supposed to be on the road at 9:15, but there was a hotel glitch and the luggage did not get picked up from our rooms. It was a good thing there were only a dozen of us; many large groups take hours just to load the bags onto the motor coaches.
While we waited for the bags to be loaded, Gennie started the journal and Vic went out to get a weather report. The temperature was 55 degrees and the humidity was 47%.
The bags started coming down at 9:20 and Vic helped the driver, Arvinder "Arvie" to pack them under the bus. The 15-passenger van was brand new, but the overhead shelf was narrow, without much room for storage. Even with 12 of us, the luggage bay was totally full.
We finally left the Novotel at 9:40, much to Pebbles disappointment! As we left London, we drove north to Cambridge. The fields were bright green, the rape was blooming yellow, and the flowering fruit trees were so fragrant.
At 10:30 we made a splash and dash stop at Birchanger; a rest area with many fast food shops, a nice grocery, and deli. We have lunch on our own today so it was a good chance to get a sandwich and drink for this noon.
Arvie rounded everyone up at 10:45 and we were back on the motorway, M11 to Cambridge. As soon as we arrived at 11:30, we walked right to King's College Chapel to meet our local guide, Nancy who was a graduate of Cambridge.
Cambridge was the second major English university after Oxford and originated in 1209. Students now come from all over the world to attend one of 31 different colleges. Nancy reminded us that the original buildings were all Gothic, "tall and pointy".
We were there on Sunday; most of the students were relaxing or studying, as it is exam time. There were thousands of tourists though, so the streets were packed. After King's College, we went to explore the back streets of the village.
Stopping at the now famous Corpus Clock we saw a Chronophage eating away at time. Nancy explained that the grasshopper-like insect at the top was ratcheting up the seconds and minutes of our lives. The golden clock is a reminder that we had only a short time, we needed to move on to see even more of the village.
The next stop was the mossy green stone chapel of Saint Benet's Parish Church. The church boasts the oldest bell tower in the city dating from the 11th century. Across the street was The Eagle Pub, the most famous pub in Cambridge.
Nancy told us the story of Scary Mary, a ghost that still haunts the grounds. This is also the pub where Francis Crick announced to the world that he and James Watson had solved the mystery of life with their discovery of DNA.
We stopped to window shop at the Club Outfitters and Nancy pointed out the Cambridge caps and gowns. We also saw the colorful scarves and ties of each of the colleges.
As we passed the many gates to individual colleges, we dodged the bicycles of students out for lunch or study sessions. The next stop was Trinity College Court where the clock chimes double the number of the hour.
Tradition is that at noon, the clock strikes 24, which takes about 49 seconds. Students race around the courtyard as seen in the movie Chariots of Fire.
Our final stop was the main gate of Trinity College, the largest of the colleges. The most famous of Trinity's students was Isaac Newton. A cutting from the original apple tree (theory of gravity) stands in the front garden.
Another very famous Cambridge grad is Steven Hawkins, who is now retired but comes back to lecture occasionally. Nancy told us there are as many as 32 Nobel Laureates from Trinity College alone.
Nancy left us at 12:30 and we had two hours on our own to explore and have lunch. We had our picnic lunch outside of the gates of St. John's College and then walked down to the River Cam.
Thinking we might like to go on a canal boat ride, we knew we would not have enough time, so we watched the punting boats, or gondola like flat-bottomed crafts for several minutes.
We walked back to the meeting place and as we had 30 more minutes we ordered a cappuccino and mocha at Nero's Café and watched people until it was 2:30 and time to meet our group.
Arvie had to park outside of the city but he came back to pick us up for our three-hour drive to York on Highway A1. We made an afternoon stop at Grantham Noah Service Station, a rest stop on A1 and by 4:25 we were back on the motorway.
It was almost 6:30 when we got to York. We checked in to the Park Inn and then followed the labyrinth of hallways to our room. The hotel was built on an old historical site and then wings of rooms were added making this a very interesting tangle of connections.
We spent a few minutes getting connected and then unpacked. Gennie had written the journal on the bus as we drove so Vic worked on the photos until about 7:30 when we set out for dinner.
Being Sunday, most places were closed for the evening. We found a kebab and burger take-away called Chico’s. They had a few tables so we enjoyed our meal.
As the sun was going down and it was dusk, we headed back to the hotel along the River Ouse. The geese were settling in for the night, but we did manage to see a family with two goslings strolling the river walk.
Back at the hotel by 8:45 we posted the journal and prepared for our upcoming magical day in York tomorrow.
Accommodations: Park Inn York Hotel - - - Meal: B
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Hope the rest of your trip goes as planned. It is a shame to have to rush through the sights.
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Fascinating as ever and the breakfast, yum! The pint looked good too. What a wonderful trip. Love, Me
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