Dave and I spent the first few days in Cambridge with Lianna and Philip who were gracious enough to put us up for a couple nights and to take us around the town. Their place is really nice and probably spoiled us for the rest of the trip. We were also treated to some really good meals in Cambridge, including a homemade dinner the first night we came in, a traditional English breakfast (egg, toast, baked beans, cooked tomato, sausage, bacon and saute'd mushrooms) the next morning and a couple really good meals out (curry and meat-filled pastry).
I also sampled a couple English ales and I've got to say that they didn't really do it for me. I found them to be a bit too bitter for my tastes; additionally, the temperature at which they were served was a little warm (they weren't room temperature, but not ice cold, either).
Lianna walked us around her campus for a bit and the most entertaining part of the tour revolved around the rule that no one is allowed to walk on the grass on the campus (except fellows). They take it so seriously, in fact, that anyone seen walking on the grass is liable to be tackled by security. So, of course, Dave and I took it upon ourselves to see how much we could annoy Lianna by asking a 1000 questions about the grass rule as well as trying to find ways to circumvent the rule (e.g. could you walk on your hands across the grass?). She was not amused.
Our stint in Cambridge ended abruptly with a 4:30AM ride to the airport on Thursday morning. We had a 7:00AM flight to Croatia from the Stanstead airport aboard Europe's equivalent of Southwest. Actually, this airline makes Southwest look like a first class carrier. As everyone boards the plane, there are commercials playing over the loudspeaker. Trying to squeeze into the seats took a lot of finesse as they were so close together that our knees were touching the seat ahead of us once we were finally seated. This little inconvenience also prevents the seats from reclining. There was a problem with the first plane we were on, so after an hour on the tarmac they had us deplane and switch to another plane. This coupled with the fact that they don't seat anyone in the first four rows for weight distribution for take-off and landing, made the airline seem all the more sketchy.
Once airborne, drinks and snacks could be purchased for a nominal fee. A full menu was passed out to everyone on board. We had originally planned to wait until arriving in Croatia to eat, but with the plane snafu I was so hungry that I decided that I had to get something to avoid passing out. I noticed that they had pizza on the menu, so I tried to order that. Instead, I got "We only have ham and cheese sandwiches today."
Eventually, we made it to Croatia, through customs and out of the airport. According to the guidebook that I have, we were supposed to be able to catch a bus into town from a stop just outside the airport. So, packs strapped on our back, we set out for the bus stop. About a mile down the road, there were no signs of said bus stop and we were starting to wonder if we should just head back to the airport. A couple hundred more yards and we turned back. On the walk back, we noticed a guy on the opposite side of the road with a bunch of bags at his feet. Hoping that he might have some idea of where the bus was, we crossed over to talk to him. Fortunately for us, he spoke English; better yet, he also happened to be a resident of the city we were in (Pula). He too was waiting for a bus but changed his mind when he saw that we were walking back to the airport. A few paces into our trek back, we saw a cab coming down the road and decided to just jump in; our newfound friend, Alexander, opted to join us.
The three of us cabbed it back to the bus station in the middle of town and on the entire ride Alexander was able to give us info on the town and places to visit, eat, etc.
***Time's up at the internet cafe, will continue at the next opportunity...**