Greetings from cloudy, chilly England! Cambridge is quiet now because many students have returned home or are traveling because we are on Spring Break until late April. I’ve traveled a bit also, south to see the famous White Cliffs of Dover and north to Scotland.
During week 6 of Lent term, a good friend from the women’s soccer team and I traveled to the Dover, the edge of England. We had planned our trip in January, and Storm Eunice ravaged the UK a few days before we left. We were nervous about how long it would take us to get to Dover because there were reports of trees on the railways. We made our way to the Cambridge train station where we met out first obstacle: the direct train to London Kings Cross Station has been cancelled due to the storm. We took a bus to the next station, changed trains at Peterborough, and made it to London. While the railway system here can sometimes be inefficient since most trains pass through London, our tickets allowed us to get on any train that traveled to Dover. Dover is very much a port town, and we hiked to the well-marked trailhead. It was windy and overcast, so we could not see France 35 miles away, but the imposing 300 foot chalk cliffs were gorgeous. The White Cliffs of Dover are symbolic – they are memorialized in the 1941 song and 1944 movie of the same name – they are the last place English soldiers saw when they departed for WWII, and the first view of home when they returned. We hiked to the Dover Lighthouse about 8 miles roundtrip, and finding a nice pub in the town, we enjoyed fish and chips while listening to a local band. It was a very English way to end our adventure.
When we started Easter Break, my friend from the Netherlands and I visited Edinburgh, Scotland. The train between Cambridge and Edinburgh takes around 5 hours, and it’s an easy journey through the countryside filled with sheep. We arrived in bright, crisp sunshine and spent the first day climbing to Arthur’s Seat. We also visited the National Gallery (I saw my first Da Vinci!), enjoyed high tea at the Colonnades Library, and toured the Edinburgh Dungeons. My favorite adventure was to the highlands around Loch Lomond. We had planned a 6-mile round trip hike around two local peaks, but we did not know the trail was steep. We gained around 2,000 feet over the first 2.5 miles. At times, the slope of the ground seemed like 45 degrees. But the work paid off because as soon as we broke through the tree line, we had a breathtaking view of the Loch and the small islands. I hope to visit Scotland again and travel further north to see some of the old castles and Loch Ness.
Easter break will end mid-April. Until then, I am working in the lab and preparing for the exams in June. Next time I’ll write about how we study and are graded here at Cambridge – it is very different from the University of Pittsburgh!