...are the people who offer you to go punting or to take a guided tour through the town or to take a bus tour or whatever... They roam the streets in front of King's College (particularly Trumpington Street) where most of the tourists are and don't hesitate to bother you five or ten times in a row even if you have repeatedly turned down the offer. Whenever you move for a meter or two, they seem to think that you could have changed your mind and approach you again.
Unfortunately, there's hardly anything you can do. As everybody around there could be a potential customer, they are in a cut-throat competition. Perhaps you might be left alone if you wear a suit and a gown which makes you look more like a local...
Not a warning or a danger but I read somewhere the people here are rude. Really? I was there for three days and found that people were chatty and helpful including the Cafe Nero guy who was talking to me about my rather cool t-shirt.
Maybe it's all in how approach people...smile at them they smile back!
If you are counting on your Cambridge friend to bring you around for free, then make sure there's only you and one other person visiting or be prepared to pay entrance fees. When I was at the college entrance, there was this small group in front of me. Apparently, one of them was a Cambridge student and had his student card (would be checked at every college entrance) but he was told that there was a limit on the number of guests he could bring around for free. I am not sure of the exact limit but if I remember correctly, a student can bring at most 2 guests. I was thinking, if you are a tourist who does not know any Cambridge student, maybe you can just approach one of the many youngsters constantly hanging around or walking past the colleges. Chances are, they will be Cambridge students and you can try asking VERY NICELY whether they can bring you through the entrance as their guest. Then you can save on the entrance fee! Of course, I do not know if my suggestion is feasible as I have not tried it myself but for the budget traveler, the aim should be to not give up on any money-saving strategy! If your budget is not that tight, then just pay the entrance fee (it's quite reasonable for the magnificent view inside-maybe you can just limit yourself to visiting the more famous colleges to save on entrance fees for every college).
Not really a major warning but I thought I would share what I had learnt. When visiting the colleges, there were signs saying that one should not walk across the grass. I checked with my friend and was told that students would be immediately expelled when caught walking across the grass and tourists would be chased out. I am not sure how true that is because I actually saw someone walk a good distance across the grass right before my eyes but I thought it would be better to respect the authority's wishes and the grassland is not that much of a short cut anyway. Not worth the risk of being chased out in disgrace.
Some streets have a bike lane, and there are also some cyclist who actually use it. More streets ,however, don't have one and most cyclists just find their way through the traffic , no matter how. They're passing right or left, cutting very close in front of you and overtaking other cyclists with no eye on the other traffic.
It's hard when you're walking and nerve-wracking when you're driving!
No picture, I was too busy biting my nails to take one.
By the way, I was not the one driving, I'd like to add, just the one who was supposed to tell the driver where to go.
Yes, cows. In Cambridge.
As in any other city I had expected to watch my step when walking , so I don't step into anything nasty from dogs. I was not prepared to watch out for cow dung! But there are cows in Cambridge, and consequently there is cow dung. The good thing is it's much bigger than a dog's and so much easier to avoid.
Still, when you start walking on the green, look down from time to time.
I actually took a picture, but I'll spare you that. Have a look at the cows instead.
I have lived here all my life and always cycled and walked around town. What visitors to Cambridge do not realise is that this is the busiest cyclist city in the UK and when you attempt to bring a car anywhere near the centre you will encounter them !!
So if you are driving watch out and give them space, and if they look like language students then give them plenty of space as they do the most unexpected and Kamikaze things I have ever seen. Talk about wanting to die early !!
Also if you are in St Andrews Street in the centre cyclists can cycling right past you without warning. This is allowed but just be careful when crossing the pedestrian area, because it not 100% for walkers.
Always bear in mind the rules of the various colleges at Cambridge. They do not allow unfettered public access at all times. Please read the signs posted by the gates, like this one at King's College.
Hobson's conduit is described elsewhere on another tip.
On several roads, most notably on Trumpington street the waters from the conduit are fed along the sides of the road. Some will think they are broken drains - but you of course know better.
Do be aware when you park your car, not realising this mini-canal is lurking at the side of the street could lead to an annoyingly expensive accident. Suspension knacked through a parking accident isn't cheap - and believe me, it happens.
This is the sign that greets you on all roads approaching the city. With such imprecise punctuation I'm not sure if :
a) It is telling motorists to watch out for Cyclists
b) It is telling Cyclists to beware of other motorists
c) It is telling cyclists to be aware of themselves in a kind of deep, meaningful zen-buddhist sort of way.
In any case because Cambridge is flat, compact, full of students and a reasonably enlighened council you will find the balence of power is different in Cambridge - here Cyclists are not the oppressed minority, they even rule the roads at time.
Look up the excellent www.camcycle.org.uk for more details including physhological and sociological persepectives (this could only happen in Cambridge)
If a guy at the bus station tries to tell you he crashed his car and needs some money to get home you should know he is always at the bus station always with the same story. If it happened that many times maybe he should keep some money in his pocket. Though I suppose his car insurance would bankrupt him by now.
If you want to help homeless people in Cambridge There are many of them politely selling a magazine called the big issue. Buy 1 and read it, its not a load of crap.
Access to most of the University buildings, and especially the colleges is very severly restricted during the examination season.
You can still enter King's college chapel for example, but nearly all the colleges will resolutely bar tourists apart from (perhaps) a quick peek from the Porter's lodge into the main courtyard.
As visiting the colleges is one of the main tourist 'must do' things then try it another time.
It's always best (and usually free) to visit during the winter months, which have the added advantage that the students are actually about - making Cambridge 'feel' as it should.
I can confirm through personal experience that at least some of the lawns of the Cambridge colleges are alarmed.
Do not be tempted (unlike I was after several pints of bitter at three in the morning) to take a short-cut across the well-tended turf.
Not only will alarms go off, but you will have to explain yourself to the bowler hatted official of the college - not a barrel of laughs.
Actually, ANYWHERE in England, not just Cambridge, you may come across these wicked plants. DO NOT TOUCH!!!
You will find them in parks, beside the roads, and in rural countrysides, especially. I brushed up against one on the side of the road as I was taking advantage of a photo opportunity (and not paying close enough attention) :-(
OUCH! It felt like 100 bees stinging constantly in an area nearly the size of my thumb. It did subside after about 10 or 15 minutes. I won't let that happen accidentally again! (Never mind I am allergic to bees!)
Only days before the incident, I had heard a young boy screaming as if he was terrified, because his bike had landed in some Nettles. Lucky for him, he landed on concrete. I would hate to imagine landing in a bed of Stinging Nettles. It is really something you must remain aware of, and definitely keep a safe distance, always.
I heard that they do actually have medicinal properties, and some folk put on gloves, cut them down and make "Nettle Soup!" That must be their way of getting even with the vicious creature. (plant) ;-)
I found out on my return, after my neice (the herbalist) explained, they do actually grow in some areas of the United States, but not near where I live, so I was unaware there was such a monster,(plant) until, of course I experienced it's terror.
Look Closely at the photo. They are heart shaped leaves with teeth-like structures, usually fully upright, and ready to attack! (PIC shows them after being wounded with an ax!) They blend in with any flower garden, easily, and don't look harmful.
For a better PIC, click ---> Urtica Dioica
I didn't know of any cure to relieve the painful sensation other than time, but luckily, it didn't leave a scar. (well, not permanently) After some research on the Internet, I found out a paste of baking soda,or human spit may alleviate some of the pain. Also,(from VT'ers) by rubbing "doc" leaves that grow nearby on the "injured" area.
IF only I knew at the time! :-(
Pay particular attention to any signs with an exclamation point! These are Important!
For THE most important sign, you will see in all of England, if not possibly the World ...
IMPORTANT ! -----CLICK HERE
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