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The best and worst of Cambridge
Cambridge in General
Member Name: RLN
Cambridge in General
Date: 26/07/00, updated on 10/04/01 (168 review reads)
Advantages: Compact enough that you can visit shops, colleges, restaurants without needing a car
Disadvantages: Nightlife is a bit restricted, can be packed in the summer
The centre of Cambridge is quite small, so if you're a visitor or a student, it's very easy to get around. Most places of interest are within walking distance, although many prefer to take their life in their hands and cycle. The suburban areas are a bit more awkward to get to though, which is a pain for those who can't afford to live too close to the centre of town. (House prices usually start at around £100,000 for a 2 or 3 bedroom terraced house, rent for a similar place will be in the region of £600+ a month, and nearly all the accommodation in the town centre is owned by the colleges, so unless you're a student you're not going to have a nice view of King's Chapel.) Buses are generally rubbish, and stop running ridiculously early, so don't rely on them to take you home after an evening out. The good news is that taxis aren't TOO bad - nearly every taxi journey I take seems to cost under a fiver - and I can highly recommend Panther (01223 715715) as they have a computer system in each car that means they usually turn up about 2 mins after you call them!
Most visitors to Cambridge come to look around the colleges. There is a range of gorgeous architecture, from the Gothic King's Chapel, to the very new and unusual Judge Institute building. If it's sunny punting is very popular too, but you'll find hiring a punt a lot cheaper than going for the chauffeur punt option. Don't believe everything the chauffeurs tell you either - they tend to make a lot of stuff up! We overheard one guy telling his passengers that King's Chapel used to be built out of wood and mud until an accidental fire meant it had to be rebuilt in stone.
There are a number of restaurants in Cambridge. There's a vegetarian bistro opposite King's, a Ch
inese restaurant further down the road, lots and lots of curry houses, a couple of Thai places, and also posher eateries like the Arundel House Hotel and Midsummer House. My personal favourite is a bit tacky, but the food is gorgeous - if you like Italian, you should visit Mamma Amalfi's (in the Grafton Centre).
Cambridge is packed full of pubs, and usually the closer to the Market Square they are, the more likely you are to have to stand up. The nicer, quieter pubs are further away, but worth a visit for their food. The Burleigh Arms does very cheap and quick meals, whereas the Bird in Hand, also on Maid's Causeway, has more exotic fare (not so good for veggies though).
Nightlife in Cambridge is generally restricted to either drinking, going to one of the few clubs, or visiting the cinema. The closest clubs to the centre of town are Toxic 8 (spread over many floors with a bar at the bottom), Fifth Avenue (known to many students as 'Cindy's', which is what it was called about five incarnations ago), and Life (previously Chicago's). The latter are both pretty cheesy; Toxic 8 has a mix of golden oldies nights and more up-to-date dance nights. There's also Route 66 (a bit of a dive), the Fez Club (not very big, but nice Moroccan decor) and Po Na Na (never been, but apparently the dance floor's tiny). The Junction is further away, but that's usually where clubbing afficionados are forced to go if they can't afford the train fare to London.
As for cinemas, there are two - the Warner Village (in the Grafton Centre) which currently charges £5.40 a ticket and can usually guarantee you a seat near someone talking and/or kicking the back of your chair every time they cross their legs; and the Picturehouse (Regent St.), which is very pleasant and comfortable, with a bar where you can meet your friends before the film, and costs £5.20 a ticket (or £3.50 if you go before 5pm). The Picturehouse tends to show more
arty films, but there will usually be one on like Gladiator or High Fidelity that you don't have to be a pseudo-intellectual to enjoy!
It's probably best to visit (and live in!) Cambridge in the spring or autumn. Summer is a bit hectic, what with the influx of tourists and language students, and winter can be a bit too chilly (supposedly the flatness of the area means we get winds direct from Siberia) although the Backs covered in snow is a glorious sight.