Hein (fub) wrote,

Cambridge trip

This week, I'm in Cambridge to attend a course for work. It's a course given by a US company, and the only courses they do in Europe are in the UK. I had been lobbying for this course and had even pitched to my boss that we could get everyone in one place and do the course together -- but then a restructuring happened and the company is getting sold (again), so that won't be happening. But in the meantime, my boss did budget it for me and my German colleague to attend! The course is Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so we could take Monday and Friday as travel days.
So now the question got to be: how do I get to Cambridge? Flying out to Gatwick was one option, but that was not very attractive: there are no flights from Weeze or Dusseldorf (the closest airports) to Gatwick. There is one from Eindhoven at a god-awfull hour, and one from Schiphol, which has the problem to even get there. When we went to London for a holiday, we went by train -- so I checked how that would work out. It was certainly doable, which would mean I could travel from Nijmegen at a reasonable hour -- but it was a bit more expensive. My boss travels by train when he visits the Nijmegen office (he's based in Germany, near Stuttgart), so that helped to get it approved, I guess. And then I found that the upgrade to a first class ticket ('Standard Premier') was only 1,50 euros -- so for 3 euros, I'm travelling first class! (There's also the Business Premier, but that's stupidly expensive.)
When you book a ticket for the Eurostar, which runs from Brussels to London, travel from any station in the Netherlands is included in the price. And since I had a first class ticket, I decided to sit in first class on the trip to Brussels as well. My ticket was checked twice, and the conductors seemed to agree with me, so that was certainly a win.

Seats in Standard Premier are a bit more spacious -- there are three in one row, instead of the four in the standard class. That also meant that I had a seat all for myself, which I liked. And: we got lunch served about 15 minutes into the "flight". I chose the quiche, and it was very good!
The stewards were also very friendly and helpful -- best 1,50 euros I ever spent!

Then I got to London St. Pancras International. I managed to get some UK pounds from an ATM and something to drink -- I even managed to collect my pre-paid train tickets to Cambridge! Previous time, there were huge queues for the passport control at St. Pancras, but since the passport control had taken place in Brussels (after check-in and the security scan, during which the glass of my tablet shattered...), there was no passport control in London and we could just walk out. Brilliant!
But finding how to get to King's Cross station (which turned out to be just across the road, but the trick was finding in which road) was a bit of a hassle. Then I got the limited express to Cambridge, and I arrived around 16:00 local time -- after a trip of 9 hours. But such a relaxed 9 hours!

I checked into the hotel (the same hotel as where the course is given, which should be convenient), and then went out again to walk around in Cambridge. Such a charming old town, and the old college buildings are very charming. One can imagine where the idea for Hogwarts comes from. It does seem steeped in stuffy tradition and privilege though -- I'm glad I attended a university with less baggage.

(Also: no, I don't have such as weird face. It's just that the front camera of my phone makes really crappy selfies.)
Tags: work

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