So you know that whole writing the paper for the rest of the week?.....yeah. This morning I went to Cambridge (hey a girl can't work too hard). I had been hoping to see Cambridge before I left and when I heard members of the group were going I decided to hop on that bus. We started out pretty early in the morning (any trek anywhere seems to start off early in the morning) around 8ish. It was me, Carlos, Dan, Hannah, and Dana. We took the tube to Kings Cross which is in the heart of London and took the train straight to Cambridge. The train ride provided me some time to write my paper which I was happy to do (two birds, one stone).
We got off at our destination and started walking. We were sure we were walking in the right direction, but because we weren't positive I asked a construction worker. God bless those construction workers, they sent us in the right direction. We wandered into the city square and saw the pretty shops and stores, stopped in at a few cathedrals (they never cease to impress me, especially when they have gargoyles on them), and got a feel for the city. We then started walking into Cambridge University. Now I should clarify something here, Cambridge isn't like American state or private schools, same with Oxford for that matter. The school is in the entire city. Not even kidding. It's not like you arrive on the property and bam, you're on school property....not even close. It's spread out over the entire city. There is Cambridge itself with Kings college and Queens college but they're now dorms for the students. Their studies are generally elsewhere around the city.
So now that I've placed that in context I'll continue with my story...
We wandered down streets that were lined with collegiate shops selling Cambridge branded articles and I resisted the urge to buy something (was very hard). It was all very lovely until a little Asian guy came upon on us and persuaded us to go punting. He actually pounced on Dana first. Dana was very patient and listened to all he had to say, but when she made eye contact with me, I shook my head. £12 was far too much to pay for each person. My aim was £8. We told him we would think about it and made our way further into the heart of Cambridge. We ran into more punters; £10, nope. A little further and a man name Joe sealed the deal. £8 per person for 45 minutes. Wheeling and dealing paid off.
Wait....you say?.....you want me to go no further until you describe what exactly is punting? Done.
You know those long narrow boats in Venice that lovers sit in while a man pushes them down the river with a long narrow stick and a wide brimmed hat? Well that is punting.....minus it being in Venice.
And the lovers being in the boats? Replace that with tourists....like me.
Punting is a tradition that, supposedly, students at Cambridge, who were generally male, would do to make money on the side. The river they take you on is on the backside of the majority of the buildings. And while they push the boat along they tell you all the tales of each the scholastic buildings. It was a lot of fun. We had a cute cheery-eyed boy, who's name I don't recall, but who's twinkly eyes I shall never forget (I know that sounds dorky but this my story and I'll tell however corny I want to).
Of all the stories he told us, one story stands out in my mind in particular. Prince Charles went to school at Cambridge and as he was the crowned prince he had a body guard with him at all times even in his classes. Well when school was wrapping up for him and final examinations came, Prince Charles' body guard requested to also take the same final exams as the crowned prince. He'd attended all the classes and the directors thought "why not?"
Turns out the bodyguard got higher marks than Prince Charles; now that's a royal slap in the face.
He told us other stories but none of them humored me as much as the one I just told you. I asked our punter if any royalty had attended Cambridge. He hesitated and said that no royalty recently; none of them had high enough marks to get in. So much for noble blood.
The whole thing was great, really great, I could see my Uncle Chuck, a brainiac of sorts and a man who enjoys a good story, really enjoying himself on that. My mom too, for that matter. When we ended our tour, we shuffled off to wander the city some more.
We ended up at this little ice cream shop (never mind that it was a little under 60 degrees), got some ice cream and chatted with the clerk. She told us about Cambridge students and how rude they are. I was a little surprised. She corrected all notions I may have had about what I thought were intelligent, quiet, moderate kids. They were rug rats. She said the whole town cringes when a Cambridge student walks into their store, some refuse to even give them service. She said they are extremely snobby, look down on everyone and don't seem to care much about "commoners" (I thought that term only existed in 1800's London). How atrocious, I thought, good education wasted on souless beings. Such a waste.
We wandered around a bit more till we decided it was time to head home. Once on the train, we were lulled into sleep. I'm telling you those trains have a sleeping substance sprinkled in the air that makes you want to sleep. We got off at Kings Cross and split ways, the girls and Carlos going into London, and me and professor Dan going back to Uxbridge.
Once we got to Uxbridge, which took longer than normal due to signaling delays, we had a beer and swapped stories of our undergraduate years. Dan is a old soul, as I would like to describe him, he's ultra-conservative, has a love for travel (but not any kind of travel, the kind of travel where you fear for your life kind; think South Africa) and is a professor through and through. He could walk down a street and I could have never met him but I could tell you he's a professor; he's just got the look and attitude down. He's got the best stories for any kind of situation and has the best solutions for political problems (though I probably think that because I'm conservative too). One beer then developed into fish and chips until we then decided I should head back to finish my paper. Ever the professor, he gave me direction on my paper and condoned my good leader skills before we headed off to our flats. I would say it sounds like I made an A on today. Score for being teachers pet.