Drew became a fully licensed UK driver last month but we hadn’t taken advantage of his new official status. With a free day, we decided to rent ourselves a car and make a quick trip up to Cambridge, the town best known for its university, and the heart of the region aptly named Cambridgeshire.Cambridge is just 50 miles from our home in North London, and the drive takes between 60-90 minutes, depending on traffic. In fact, about half of the ride is spent getting out of London.  The lack of simple ways to get out of London cannot be overstated. As this city is about a million years old, there is no interstate, or main highway junctions. We weave around, tiny street to tiny street for about thirty minutes, until boom, there’s the exit. It is weird and complicated. I cannot imagine dealing with this system daily during rush hour or navigating without GPS. I would venture to say it’s impossible.

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Visiting Cambridge made me wish I had gone to school there. It is otherworldly, a vast spectrum of gothic colleges and churches, many not accessible to the public. I was waiting for Harry Potter and friends to waltz out of any one of the massive wooden entrances to a college, matching scarves and all.  Seriously. Are you even allowed to be a stupid 18-year-old here? Are wildly inadviseable decisions, inappropriate clothes and cheap beer even allowed? Or do you hide away in the cavernous stone buildings, emerging fully formed as an academic genius in a cape four years later?

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We enjoyed wandering around the twisty streets, and stumbling upon several small holiday craft fairs in various squares and yards.  We brought Basil with us for the day. He of course had the best day of his life to date, but wasn’t keen on taking a break from garbage-searching to pose for a picture.  We also stopped for lunch at dog-friendly pub Free Press, which is tucked away far off the beaten path, with a warming fireplace on a chilly December day.  Basil enjoyed their chips, which we feed to him throughout lunch so he appeared to be well-behaved to the surrounding diners.

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We are totally smitten with Cambridge. Drew officially prefers it to its most comparable neighbor, Oxford. I go to work in Oxford once a week, so it has a special place in my heart and I refuse to pick a favorite. But now that I’ve visited this gem so convenient to London, I will whole heartily recommend to visitors that they take a day trip here, where they can bask in the gothic glory and wish they had gone to school here too.
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