The Oyster was My World

Below is the epic tale of Cambridge. I call it epic only because it’s really long. Seriously, if you have short attention span you might just want to skip this one. I promise I’ll never write a post this long again. It took way too much time.

Some will say Cambridge was a mess. I think it was an awesome place, but there is no denying that the weekend in Cambridge presented challenges for all of us. I will speak only of my own challenges.

8:00 am Saturday Morning:

I woke up and went straight to breakfast. I often wake up hungry and this was one of those days. Breakfast is # 1.

Eggs, bacon (Canadian if you were wondering), hash browns, probably other stuff. Not bad at all.

Then we jumped the train to Cambridge. We decided to go straight to the hotel to drop off some of our stuff. It ended up being a bit more out of the way then we realized so we didn’t get back into Cambridge until a bit later than we had planned. If I had known it would take that long I might have just stayed in Cambridge from the start. Of course that would’ve meant I’d end up in a pub later that night still wearing my backpack, but hey it’s not like I’ve never done that before.

We looked around the city for a bit and on an impulse I bought two baguettes for a pound because that’s just what you do when you’re hungry. Really, I had no choice. They were delicious.

Then we headed to our punting tour down the River Cam. A punt is a long flat boat which is steered down the river buy a guy standing up holding a big pole. Basically, picture a gondola.

The scenery was great.

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The whole ride was smooth and peaceful. We passed a hen’s party and bride and groom. I dipped my hand in the water. No one fell in. I considered jumping out for a monetary offer but in the end chose not to.

After this we got a chance to walk around and take in some of the scenery for a bit. It is a great looking city. I think picturesque would be the perfect word to describe it. It was like a 360 degree sphere of Kodak moments.

We stopped in an Italian restaurant for a satisfying meal. Then went to a bar to get drinks.

This is where my challenges began.

I reached in my back pocket to get my wallet when I noticed my Oyster card (the card that allows me to travel freely all over London on a daily basis) was not there. After checking everywhere at that bar I immediately left everyone and walked the path back to the Italian restaurant.

No luck. So I walked all the way back to the rest of the group who were about to leave for an Irish pub we saw earlier.

I put my Oyster card out of my mind completely as there was nothing I could do until morning. We ended up at a strange basement bar that was crowded and foggy. When I walked in the first thing I thought to myself was, “I regret every decision I’ve ever made because all of those decisions have led me to here. This place is worse than Rick’s.” But then I laughed it off and made the best of it. I waded through the dance floor and as I was nearly through it was intentionally pushed from behind. I thought that was pretty hilarious. I can’t imagine what reason someone could’ve had for pushing me, but the thought that someone was angry enough to think they needed to do that was just really funny to me.

Back at the hotel I fell asleep peacefully to Pink Floyd’s album The Wall which was fitting seeing as many of the members are from Cambridge.

In the morning before leaving I decided to take a look at the raptor conservatory. Oh yeah, did I mention we stayed at a raptor conservatory?

There were literally birds of prey sitting on stumps right outside our window.

There’s a bald eagle just chilling in our back yard.

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‘Merica

I wish we had had more time to see the rest of the birds but we had already called a cab at that point so we rushed back out to catch it.

When we finally made it back to Cambridge I split off from everyone to again go searching for my lost Oyster card. I said I would meet them back at the train station in an hour. I loaded directions on my phone while still connected to wifi and then began my search.

At first I was stressed out but then I remembered I was in a different country with a with a backpack on my shoulders, a destination, a specific goal in mind, and the time on the clock was running down. Suddenly in my head I was on the tv show The Amazing Race. I pictured an imaginary camera crew following me around and I picked up my pace. I jogged through the scenic town center along the side of a river as I narrated the journey in my head. I cut through grassy fields and crossed over narrow bridges. People looked at me weird and I laughed back at them.

That was fun.

Of course no Oyster card was found. I returned to the train station in defeat. I was tired and hungry. I hadn’t even had time to stop and eat a meal yet. All I had was a package of crumpets in my backpack because my aunt and cousin had asked to try them.

Jeff told us we would might experience a low point after the initial excitement of arriving. He described it as relating to homesickness or stressful challenges at work. I knew those wouldn’t be a problem for me, but when the guy at Waitrose told me “that’s a valuable thing to lose” those words rung in my ears. Valuable. Money. I’ll have no money now. But money is how I do EVERYTHING. That was my moment when I had a bit of internal panic.

I sat on the train feeling quite drained and not knowing what I would do about transportation back in London and more importantly how my wallet would fare. I began planning how to survive with the absolute bare minimum and tried to think of what talent I might be able to display as a street performer. That wouldn’t be so bad I thought. I always wanted to make money playing guitar. That could be fun to do.

Gradually I calmed myself back down as I listened to a podcast and looked out the window. Eventually I came to reestablish that my heart was still beating. I was still alive. Life goes on.

“I won’t die because of this” was an oddly comforting thought to me.

Overall, Cambridge was a cool city. I enjoyed everything I saw there. However I wished I could have seen more than I did which was mostly just the one road on which I retraced my steps back and forth. I definitely wouldn’t mind visiting again, but next time I need more time to explore during the day and less time to lose things during the night.

Article by Mike Brichta

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