Thursday

Eyewitness Cambridge in the UK: Rachel Brown from Rachel On Route

Cambridge is a university town in Cambridgeshire, England. You find the town that was founded in the first century, roughly 80 kilometres north of the famous and beautiful capital London. Rachel grew up in the county of East Anglia, in the East of England. For armchair-travels to this part of the world, watch these three historical dramas: The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and The King's Speech, which were all filmed on location in Cambridgeshire.

Rachel is what one might call a proper bookworm; she likes fantasy, Russian literature, and graphic novels. No surprise she studied English and Creative Writing. Emma Thompson, actress, human rights activist and screenwriter and Zadie Smith, the novelist, essayist, and short-story writer both studied English literature in Cambridge too. Just saying. 

When Rachel doesn't write, read or travels, she cooks and eats, weight trains using kettlebells or cycles and strolls through Cambridge. One would go to Cambridge to visit the Queen’s College Moondial at Cambridge University, the Centre of Computing History, the King’s College Chapel or the All Saint’s Church, but there is more to discover. Rachel was so lovely to tell us about her hometown. She talks about an Elm tree, hot numbers, museums that are works of art and a haunted bookshop.

The Touristin: Three words that characterise Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: Academic, historic and thriving.

The Touristin: How do you get around Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: I walk everywhere - You get the best feel of a city by wandering around, but there is also a good bus network and a huge amount of people cycle here, bikes are really popular. I think we have the highest level of cycle use in the UK!

The Touristin: What is the best kept secret about Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: There is so much more to the city than the University and colleges! Many of the lesser known, hidden gems can be found by venturing down some of the side roads and alleys off the main streets, and you'll discover independent shops selling books, clothes, antiques, art, food and so many other things (Check out The Haunted Bookshop!). Editor's note: Sarah Key Books. In terms of going out for drinks, there are some wonderful pubs well worth a look, I think The Elm Tree and St Radegund are really underrated, and bar 196 on Mill Road is very popular with locals, they do the most phenomenal cocktails.

The Touristin: What is your favourite borough/suburb/area in Cambridge and why?

Rachel Brown: Mill Road is great - it's a real mixing pot of different cultures and eclectic independent shops, some great pop-ups, charity shops, cafes and restaurants which are all a refreshing change from the same old chains. I also really like going for a walk along The Backs - the back of the colleges down by the river - the view and feel of the place always changes with the season, and it's a lovely place to sit with a friend to catch up and watch the river/punters go by (and maybe contemplate having a go yourself!)

The Touristin: The best place for a hot chocolate or coffee in Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: I love Hot Numbers - they have two locations, both with very relaxed and friendly vibes, and great coffee. My boyfriend and I discovered it a few years ago, and he liked it so much that since we've moved into the city he's got a job there! Read: Speciality Coffee - Travel and See what the Fuss is all about.

The Touristin: What is one restaurant we must try out while in Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: I've been arguing about this one - there are so many great places to eat in Cambridge, but if I had to narrow it down:

Tradizioni is a lovely little Italian restaurant that serves simple but delicious pasta and pizza dishes and is always busy, and I also really like The Pint Shop who do great meaty dishes. Also - not quite a restaurant but a visit to Fitzbillies for one of their Chelsea buns is an absolute must!

The Touristin: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Rachel Brown: I'll sometimes go out for drinks on a Friday night - The Eagle is very good but busy, and The Mill lets you take your drink down by the river. Other than that I'll try and relax, so I tend to be found in the gym, going for a wander, or with my nose in a book/perusing the many book shops and trying to talk myself out of buying more.

The Touristin: Do you have a favourite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: Definitely the Fitzwilliam Museum - the building itself is a work of art, and then when you can get over the stunning architecture and interior, it has some wonderful exhibitions from regions across the world. (The armory is a personal highlight.)

The Touristin: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes?

Rachel Brown: We have two shopping mall areas, The Grafton Centre and The Grand Arcade which house the high street shops you tend to get everywhere. However I prefer the more independent shops dotted around - I do love Mill Road - it has some really out there pop up and vintage clothes shops, and for food some wonderful international food shops where you can get some awesome cooking ingredients. Also Cambridge Market is a good little market for everyday fruit and veg, and more unusual things like Ostrich burgers!

The Touristin: What souvenir shall we bring back from Cambridge?

Rachel Brown: I think most people tend to get a University of Cambridge hoodie or T-shirt, but I'd totally stock up on those Fitzbillies Chelsea buns.

The Touristin: Thank you so very much Rachel, I can’t wait to visit all these places mentioned. Talk to you soon.

Meet Rachel Brown on Twitter and Instagram and read her blog Rachel On Route.

From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.