Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day Trip to Cambridge

Wow, totally behind on updating, sorry about that guys!  I have been very busy catching up on my schoolwork and reading, and the outcome has been neglecting this blog...hopefully I can remedy this in the future!  I'm going to try to pick at least one day a week to update my work....Wednesday might be the best day, but we'll see how it goes!

Anyway, on October 1, my school organized a big day-trip to Cambridge.  They provided buses to get us there, and then we got to go on guided tours.  The history of the town was amazing!  They have buildings that were used in the medieval ages, and are still working today, and the history is still growing with various scientific discoveries and some of the "artwork" that is there (well, it's a clock, but it could be considered a type of performance art piece).

I took lots of pictures on this trip, granted, not very good ones, but they are probably the best way to go through highlights of my experience in Cambridge!

Punting!  In Cambridge they have these canals, and you can pay to go on boat tours.  It's kind of like the gondolas in Italy, except it's called punting.  It's supposed to be a great way to see the city.  I didn't do this because I wanted to walk around the city, but I'd love to go back and try it someday!

This is obviously the job all the college kids get stuck with.
Which brings me to the bridge in the background of the above and below picture, it supposedly has no nails in it, it is held together by some physics/science logic that I can't understand, but still pretty interesting.

The book lover in me was delighted when I found out that the (supposed) oldest bookshop in Europe was in Cambridge!  It's the Cambridge University Press Bookshop.  Books used to be printed here, but now I think it is just a bookshop, (though I could be wrong).  I did go inside and buy some mementos for family back home, of course, but knowing the history of it made it really special :)

It's the white building in the middle.
There is a lot of academic history around Cambridge (obviously due to the college).  They have a large number of Nobel Prize winners (I believe over 50) and they are very strong in the sciences.  One of the famous discoveries related to the University is the discovery of DNA in 1953.  (The announcement of this discovery was made at The Eagle, which I'll get to later...)
Lab where DNA was discovered.  Supposedly some rooms are still radioactive from experiments done a few years back.

 One of the great things about Cambrdige (and England, in general) is the architecture!  Especially for the Uni. there.  I only saw Queens' and King's college, didn't see much of the rest of the Uni, but the buildings for King's College are just absolutely gorgeous!  Our guide said that the church was finished first, since the king who donated the building was very devout, which I find interesting since in my mind, a school's first priority is to be a school, but I guess life always depends where the money comes from.
I apologize for my SLR's lens bending the buildings...anyway, the church is on the left, and the entrance is on the right.  Just gorgeous!

Now to the Corpus Clock (which I am officially in love with!).  It was built in 2008.  The grasshopper on the top references the grasshopper mechanism found in watches.  The grasshopper walks along the top of the clock, his mouth opening and closing to represent eating away at time.  The clock shows time with blue LED lights that light up the various holes on the watch.  The grasshopper speeds up and slows down, and the clock is only accurate every 5 minutes to show us the time is relative.  Also, it's said it was designed with a coffin behind the clock, and that chains are dropped into the coffin, to remind us that after our time here, we all end up in the same place.

In Cambridge there is an old church (I believe it is called St. Mary's) that lets tourists climb up it's narrow tower to see Cambridge from a bird's eye view.  It was a couple pounds to go up, but totally worth it!  Especially since I went on such a lovely day.

Tower that I climbed up.

Inside of church.

Narrow staircases I had to climb up...

...but the view is totally worth it!

King's college to the left.

Lame, but totally reminded me of the song "Out There" from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame!

And finally, my favorite the the (personally) most memorable part of my trip to Cambridge:  The Eagle.  It was an inn & pub during the medieval era, and is still around as a pub today.  It's been around for so long that there is a lot of history to it.  Part of it (one room) is supposedly haunted by these children who died in a fire (a long time ago).  They couldn't get the window to their room open and sadly passed away.  The pub has to keep the window open, no matter how cold it gets, otherwise it is said that you can hear the screams of children at night.  (It's sad, but an interesting ghost story).  It is also where the discovery of DNA was announced. and, my favorite, it has a bit of American history tied in with it's past.  Not that I came to England to experience American history, but I just honestly didn't expect to find any here.  In WWII it was a RAF (royal air force) bar, but also was a place where a lot of American troops would go for food, drinks, and to try to forget about the war.  One day, an American troop stood up on a chair, and using a match stick wrote his name into the ceiling of the pub.  After he did it, lots of other troops started doing it as well, using matches, lighters, and their girlfriend's lipstick.  (While I find it a little sad that, of course the American's deface someone else's property,) I also found it oddly comforting to know that so many Americans had passed through these doors, and had found a safe place to stay and relax or catch up with friends.  The ceiling still has all of the signatures on it, and it makes for an interesting piece of history.  I'd recommend going to anyone who gets the chance (I also had my first authentic Fish n' chips there...and it was very good so definitely try the food!)

The haunted room is in the upper right hand corner, where the window is open.

RAF - Royal Air Force

The ceiling with the names of American troops from WWII!

Me, looking very tired but happy in front of the Eagle!  (Sorry for the exposure on this, it hasn't been edited.)
Well, I best be off, I'm already late for a society meeting since I got so carried away with this...hope you appreciated some images and a bit of history from Cambridge!

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