Canterbury to Cambridge

posted September 21, 2010 by Holly Hayes
part of trip: UK + Western Europe 2010

Yesterday morning we went inside Canterbury Cathedral as soon as it opened at 9am and started our visit in the crypt, which was closed last time we visited. It is the biggest crypt I've ever seen, stretching underneath almost the whole length of the cathedral. It's also the oldest part, dating from the early 1100s. That means it's Romanesque, my favorite flavor of architecture, and it has some great carvings and frescoes from that period.

Crypt: South Aisle
Side aisle in the crypt
Crypt: St. Gabriel's Chapel Murals
Romanesque frescoes and carvings in the crypt

We had the whole place to ourselves for about 10 minutes, then busloads of people came streaming in the crypt and cathedral above. How rude! I think the cathedral should open an hour earlier for guests of the Cathedral Lodge, like Costco.

But some of the busloads were a men's choir from Germany, who sung beautifully while we took our photos. Press play to hear them!

A few more cathedral highlights:

West towers against a cloudy sky

Trinity Chapel Architecture
Gothic architecture in the Trinity Chapel (1220)

Eagle lectern in the choir


Roof boss in cloister - a shepherd playing pipes, I think

We stayed in the cathedral until almost checkout time at 11am, after which we put our stuff in the car (what a luxury to have a trunk!) and walked around Canterbury for an hour or so.


The first item of business was lunch, which we found at Pret a Manger, a healthy fast food place we visited a lot in Oxford. David had tuna and cucumbers on a baguette with chicken and mushroom soup; I had a toasted tuna melt on multigrain bread with capers and Greve cheese and a carrot-coriander soup. The soup was one of the best I've ever had. We ate on a bench in a little courtyard just off the main pedestrianized street.

Just part of the sandwich selection at Pret

My carrot and coriander soup

Then we visited the following sights before returning to our car:

Eastbridge Pilgrims' Hospital. In the Middle Ages, poor pilgrims who couldn't afford a place to stay would sleep crowded together on this floor.

Fresco in the refectory of the pilgrims' hostel.

Greyfriars Chapel, founded by the Franciscans in 1224. A river runs underneath it.

By around 1pm we were on the road again heading for Cambridge, which took 90 minutes and unfortunately was mostly on the motorway - including part of the big ring road around London (the M25). But the BMW sure seemed to like it! That thing is zippy.

In Cambridge I'd booked an apartment outside the city center for two nights. We had to call ahead upon arrival, so we decided to park behind King's College to take a few photos and call from there.

Parking spot

King's College from "The Backs"

Punters on the River Cam

The owner met us at the apartment about 45 minutes later, around 4pm. It's located on the fourth floor of a nondescript apartment building about a 15-minute walk from town. The location is a little inconvenient (especially with our aching feet) but the upside is that we have plenty of parking, more living space than usual, a washing machine and a kitchen! They've decorated it very nicely - entirely from IKEA, it appears.


After getting settled in, we walked around town for about an hour.

The park we cross to go into town (called Midsummer Common), complete with free range cows.

We passed the Cambridge University Press bookstore - I don't dare go in there or my luggage will become a whole lot heavier! I wanted pretty much every book I saw. (Oxford University Press is better, though. Obviously.)

King's College, St. Mary's Church, and a market tent

We had dinner at the outdoor tables of a place called Don Pasquale's. It was decent but not worth photographing. I had a pizza with prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, and olives, and David had a chicken and vegetable dish called Chicken Mafioso. Then we stopped by Marks & Spencer for dessert to take home!

Don Pasquale's, Marks & Spencer, and the same market as above

Almost immediately after walking back to the apartment, we packed up our camera bags and tripods and drove to The Backs, the pretty meadow behind King's College where we'd stopped earlier. We were really hoping for some golden evening light or the buildings to be illuminated after dark, but we got neither. We got a few decent photos in the fading light, though.


We got home after 8pm and were totally exhausted (again). I heated up a bread pudding with extra thick Channel Island double cream from Marks (which was as delicious as it sounds), downloaded the photos, wrote my pathetic little blog post, and crashed.

This morning David got up around 6 as usual, but I slept in 'til 8, which felt great. David made us a delicious breakfast of pork sausages, fried eggs and toast.


It was a beautifully sunny morning, so we headed out right after breakfast for photos in town. It has been very sunny and surprisingly warm today - it may have gotten as high as 75 F.

Some highlights of King's College, founded in 1446 by King Henry VI:


Then we visited St. Mary's University Church, which is right across from King's College, and I decided to climb the tower while David smartly sat it out. There were a LOT of stairs, and they were very narrow. But there were some nice views from the top.


We also visited the Round Church briefly:


We returned to Marks to pick up some lunch, then made the long trek home through the park again.

Fridge of goodness

I heated up a shepherd's pie for lunch, but I really had to work for it - took me quite awhile to figure out how to use the IKEA oven! It is labeled only with ambiguous icons and there seems to be no manual. But I conquered, and the pie was delicious!

We were going to spend this afternoon on a day trip to Norwich Cathedral (a 3-hour round trip), but decided instead to stay in the apartment for some much-needed relaxation, laundry, and computer work. That was a really good decision! Instead we'll visit Norwich on the way to Lincoln tomorrow.

David relaxed for a bit on the couch then wandered back into town without his camera, while I stayed home and rested my feet while getting caught up on the blog and some other work. Then it was time to cook dinner, which meant putting Marks & Spencer meals in the microwave for a couple of minutes. They were so delicious and do not look or taste like quick meals!

Roast chicken dinner for David

Chicken with a dumpling for me

The dinners are nice small portions, which means I had plenty of room for a single-serving Bramley apple crumble with double cream. YUM.

Tomorrow we'll depart early for Norwich and Lincoln.

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Post Info

Post ID
Canterbury to Cambridge
Holly Hayes
Date Published
September 21, 2010
Last Updated
April 22, 2022
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