We went to Oxford last year and since then we have been wanting to go to Cambridge as if you go to one we have to go to the other!!! Lol. Especially since people have been saying to me that they prefer Cambridge. Just to be clear, I’ve been before but it was ages and ages ago that I can remember it.
It was a really easy trip for us as we can get a train from Liverpool St and took approx 1hr. As every other UK day trip we’ve done, I never really research them. I guess I think we could just walk around…. This was the case here too, we kinda just followed the masses and true enough we made it into the centre.
It’s probably not fair of us but during the whole day we were constantly comparing the 2 cities! If course there was lots if similarly but still quite different. As we walked into the centre, again we would just randomly wandered in and out of places just to see what is there to see. We were pretty disappointed at the beginning as all we could see was a few churches and a couple of colleges. Then it just looks like any normal High St.
That was until we turned a corner into Turmington St and suddenly the whole place was FULL OF PEOPLE!!! It was a little scary actually, there was tourists everywhere, mostly Chinese actually, there were so many school tours out in force. Well it’s to be expected in Aug!!!
As you walk around the centre you’ll be harassed by lots lots of kids selling punting tours. If you’re interested in doing one of these then obviously speak to a few of them first before handing your cash over. Although I think the prices are pretty similar, we were lucky as this guy decided that since it was our 1st time punting, he would offer us the student price anyway!!! (£5 less!!!) There are other options, you can either go at it yourself, actually wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re particular confident at it!!! Let’s just say we saw lots of people going round in circle and caused a lot of traffic!!! I think there was other tours with less people too but not sure about the price. Ours were with 9 other people which was ok, except you do need to sit in a group of 3.
The organisation of these tours are not great as you do end up having to hang around waiting to board the punt. It didn’t help that it was a sunny Sat so the whole world was there! Once we finally got on the punt we had a very sweet guy who gave us lots of interesting info. Other punts kept crashing into us as it was so busy on the river as everyone are doing the same tours as there were also a few brave groups doing it themselves. It was actually lots of fun like bumper cars!!! Lol!!! I have to say the view from the river was well worth the stress.
As I mentioned before the organisation is not great and as there are so many companies there are all looking after their own interest! In facts we had a particular nasty episode where another tour guide was being very aggressive to ours. Bless him, he handled it pretty well but we did hear him afterwards complaining to his friends.
Before we went on our tour we did a quick visit to The Fitzwilliams Museum, even if you’re not into art it’s still worth a visit as the interior of the museum is pretty amazing and it’s free. When we were there they had some music performance happening which I believe you can go into if you are lucky and get yourself a token from reception. Even if not the adjacent rooms are open so you can still enjoy the music.
Just a quick mention about food, we wanted to go to Loch Fyne for lunch but as we needed to go on the tour we didn’t have time but they had a great set menu for lunch at only £10.95 and it’s just a few mins from the museum. We handed up at a local Mexican chain – Nanna Mexico where the food was decent and quick! There are actually lots of restaurant choices especially Chinese so you won’t go hungry. I would suggest you to try and avoid the tourist hub as we did see some ridiculous prices!
All in all it was a good day trip but we just felt that Oxford was much easier to navigate as the colleges were more concentrated. Also perhaps it was timing but it just wasn’t so touristy. However I would still recommend you to go if you gave not been!!!