European Tour Part 3: England

The third leg of my trip to Europe took me to England, specifically Cambridge and London. My colleague had done a postdoc in Cambridge and wanted to see it again, so he arranged for us to give a talk at the school. We spent some time wandering around the city. Unfortunately, most of the colleges were closed as it was the week students were returning. So, we didn’t get to see, for example, the statue of Newton in Trinity College.

I’m currently reading “Great Physicists” and it is amazing the scientific history that happened at Cambridge. Many of the great scientists of all time spent cosiderable portions of their careers at Cambridge. It was amazing to walk around the same streets that they had strolled around, even if we didn’t get to go in. Everywhere I turned there were old buildings that must have been there since the time of Newton. What little I could see of the colleges was spectacular: huge green yards, magnificent chapels, and incredible buildings. We went into King’s Chapel as it was open. The grandeur of the chapel was amazing. And even more amazing was the fact that there was more imagery associated with the English royalty than with Christianity: the roses, the lions and greyhounds, and the portices. I definitely have to return when I can see the colleges themselves.

Just to give some idea of the historic significance of Cambridge, Kurt and I went to a bar called, I believe, the Eagle’s Nest. It is famous because they had uncovered a bunch of writing on the ceiling written American pilots during WWII. However, it is also the place where Watson and Crickk had their “eureka” moment on the structure of DNA. Pretty damn cool.
After Cambridge, we went to London to meet with some collaborators at Imperial College and Loughborough University. So, we spent most of the rest of the week working. But, our host, Robin, did take us to down town London in the evening. We spent a night of touring the sites as well as hitting a few pubs.

This always annoys Robin, but I don’t find British beers as flavorful as their American counterparts. For example, American IPAs are much better, to me, than British bitters. Even though the Brits invented the IPA, it seems that the Americans perfected them, at least for my palette. I don’t find that British bitters are all that, well, bitter. They don’t have much hoppy flavor.

Anyways, we hit China town for a great dinner one night. And another evening, Robin treated us to BBQ, which was very good. And that was the end of the trip. It was pretty uneventful returning to the US. There was a small snafu with the planes. When we got to Gatwick, our flight had been cancelled. Fortunately, we were able to get on other (but separate) flights. In the end, that was fine as I some how got upgraded to business class. So no complaints.

2 thoughts on “European Tour Part 3: England”

  1. Two and a half years since you posted this but hey…

    Glad you liked Cambridge as I’m a resident myself – but I grew up in Oxford and would recommend a visit there on a return visit! Personally I think it’s prettier and grander.

    The pub is just the Eagle, rather than the Eagle’s Nest – and the beer in there wouldn’t be particularly interesting – the best British beer comes from small breweries and doesn’t make it into pubs owned, as most are, by large brewing companies. Go to pubs that call themselves “Free houses”, or to a beer festival (and if you make it to Oxford, go to the pub called the Turf).

  2. Tom, sorry for not replying sooner. I’ll definitely check out Oxford. A number of my colleagues of British origin went to school there, so I should definitely visit some time. A colleague of mine in Loughborough has taken me to one of those free houses and I do think the beer was better there. I personally just prefer very hoppy beers and it seems that Britain isn’t so keen on those, at least I haven’t found one yet.

    I was in a pub near the Stansted airport and ordered an IPA. The bartender laughed at me, saying IPA was swill. And, he was right, the one he gave me was swill. I don’t know if IPA is just different in Britain than in the US, but I really enjoy IPA here.

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