As if the tiny English university town of Cambridge, about an hour outside of London by train, isn’t quaint enough, my travel companions and I managed to have the serendipity of visiting the historic village on a beautiful (albeit brief) snow day.
Cambridge, home to more far more universities than just its namesake, isn’t the liveliest of college towns, but what it lacks in youthful energy it makes up for in timeless charm. From Technicolor bakeries and candy shops to centuries old churches with candy-apple red doors and rainbows of flags and flyers advertising student events lining the grounds, Cambridge was awash with color even on a dreary winter’s day.
We were treated to a preview of the snow on our train ride from London to Cambridge, and were actually somewhat disappointed to arrive to a beautiful sunny day, but no snow, after the hour-long journey. But after making our way through the many college campuses and winding riverside trails, we arrived at a market in the main square just as giant, fluffy snowflakes began to appear.
Watching the snow fall upon the churchyards and cobblestone squares, the market stalls and red telephone booths, was truly an experience to remember. Though the flakes didn’t stick, they were thick and fluffy and blindingly white against the otherwise gray day, getting caught in our hair and eyelashes and scarves and making our world a winter wonderland for the better part of an hour.
Once the snow subsided, it was a bit more difficult to ignore our frozen fingers and faces, but this was nothing an afternoon pit stop for cider and board games at a local pub wouldn’t fix. The rest of the day was spent shopping, eating and sight-seeing; the Botanical Gardens, Cambridge’s archaeology and anthropology museums, the picturesque canals and colorful streets and warming afternoon tea and scones.
I suppose it’s a bit funny how contented I find myself with London already, and yet also with the small English towns and villages that encompass the capital, the kinds of places that I could almost never see myself wanting to visit or being excited about back in America. But then I suppose there’s something about the history and the mystery, the magic and that indelible English charm, that seems to thankfully guarantee that I’ll never get around to taking any of this for granted.