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Cambridge - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

History is woven into the medieval lanes and cloistered colleges of this university town. But new arrivals are adding cocktail and coffee culture to the equation.

Most visitors to Cambridge go mad about the place. Most of those who are stuck there for a few years as students only figure out how lively it is, and how lucky they were much later in life. Cambridge is largely wasted on the young. Perhaps this has to do with the cities alarming and, in a way, almost unbearable concentration of history, brilliance and beauty, which can seem overwhelming.
The trick is to revel in the beauty without getting too wound up about the brilliance of the history. Go as they say, with the flow. As a visitor to Cambridge, that’s easy enough. During the summer months, these are the people who, for a small consideration, will propel you with, or even against, the flow of the Cam, the river that runs through the middle of the city and gives its name, in a long, low boat by means of a long, thin stick, beneath willow trees and bridges and past all manner of architectural marvels.

Cambridge is also a thriving 21st-century city and a centre of the tech industry. But it's ancient, stony heart remains untroubled by progress. On a quiet night in Lent term, as you clatter home through empty cobbled streets with the Saints that loom over heavy doors glaring down at you through the fog, you will feel as though you are just a power shortage away from a previous century.

Vladimir Nabokov, who studied here in the early 1920s, wrote of it as a place where nothing one looked at was shut off all terms of time, everything was a natural opening into it. His idea of Cambridge as a series of doorways to the past left forever ajar is spot on. The fantastic thing about the city is the extent to which those doors remain open not just to soulful literary types such as Nobokov but to anyone who passes through them.

Nowhere else on earth is it as easy to travel across such great reaches of time, among such illustrious ghosts, in such small geographical area, as it is in Cambridge.

Kettle’s Yard is a reminder of the marvellous ways in which the objects we surround ourselves with at home such as furniture, photographs, and flowerpots, whatever can improve and enrich our everyday lives. It reopened in 2018 after a comprehensive three-year redevelopment and expansion and is now better than ever. Its original owner was a curator at the Tate Gallery in London. He and his family moved to Kettles yard in 1956 and 10 years later, gifted the house and its contents to the University of Cambridge.

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