Within two days of each other, I took two very different trips between house and transportation. I was struck during the first one of the need to write about it, and I was even more struck the second day about the need to write about them both next to each other.
The first journey was in Cambridge, England. My publisher had been nice enough to hire us a cab to get to our place across the river Cam, and even more helpful in walking with us around Cambridge to get our bearings and see the sights. The second day, after a night of revels, it was time to say goodbye to Cambridge and make our way back to the train for London. With a hangover. As we were not going to intersect a Boots and we had a ways to go, I would just have to rough it out. With luggage.
The luggage had rollers, but I’m pretty sure the stuff is not meant to be dragged over 1.9 miles of slate sidewalks. Breakfast helped, but the sun was punishing. We quickly learned to stick to the shady side of the street. We took our time as we had no place to be that day. Plus there was the headache.
Making it down the hill, down the River Cam and across the bridge that had been there since Roman times, we stopped for breakfast in a CrepeLove directly across from the round church built in the time of the Norma Conquest by the Knights Templar. The Apple Butter and Goat Cheese Omelette was rejuvenating, but the sun was still punishing. I knew the rout involved one turn down station road, but that wasn’t for another half mile.
Another two stops at the Scott Museum for Polar Exploration and Tea, and we finally trudged into the train station for a train that was ready to depart right then. 30 minute headways feel great when you’re at the end of the route.
1.9 miles walk
The question is, why did we endure the journey when we could have driven in a car for a much simpler trip? That’s the American way, after all.
The street we stayed on had no parking on it, and barely enough width for a car to drive on. The things we saw the day before, like Loch Fyne, the 5 minute Clock, Henry VIII’s chair leg, and the great concert at Kings Chapel, would have all required parking. There was no parking lot on offer near Kings Chapel, even though there were hundreds of patrons in attendance.
Maybe we could have parked in a parking deck built to accommodate Cambridge’s thousands of visitors, but where could it be? The map shows that parks (“Pieces” in the middle english) exist just outside of town. Christ’s Pieces seems like a nice juicy piece of land. We would still have to park once and walk around, then walk back to get our car. And we still don;t know whee to park our car near the place we were staying.
Scaling this, of course, would be difficult. Cambridge had 5 million visitors at last count. Splitting that evenly along weekends means that 100,000 visitors come to the town every weekend. Even if they were all families of five in one car each, that would be 20,000 cars. Or 150 acres of parking. To say nothing of he space needs of having all those cars through town. Of course, Cambridge currently only allows taxis and buses through the center of town during much of the day, but that would have to go away if traffic was more of a constituency.
A last affront to my American sensibilities was the inconvenience of parking. So far as a I could tell, Loch Fyne had zero (0) parking spaces. And ti had the temerity to be connected to a public street. For Loch Fyne to be permitted today, it should have a parking lot of at least a dozen, or perhaps a score, of spaces. I didn’t count the seats, but it seemed a sizable place. A crab house near us in Fairfax has about that many spaces. Now what happens if every business in town needs that much parking, from the Creperie to the Norman Church. Something will have to go. Maybe the Market Square.