Cambridge was calling, just an hour or so by train from central London, but even the excitement of new adventures couldn’t hide the fact that it was 6.55am when my alarm went off. Blur, yuk, the same time as I have to get up Monday-Friday.

Well, you know what they say, no pain no gain, or in travel terms, no early morning no cheap(er) fare.

I may not have been so active travel wise of late, but I still know how to travel on a budget, and that includes earning cashback on all my bookings, but more on that later.

Here’s the story of my overnight trip to Cambridge.

Love Cambridge

7am wake up (technically the alarm did originally go off at 6.55, but I hit snooze) and stumble towards the bathroom.

7.45 tell the gf to hurry up.

8.00 we’ve supposed to have left the house already.

8.15 we leave house, late.

9.50 we arrive at Liverpool Street underground station and bolt got the overground.

9.58 we slump into our seats having just made it. I’m shattered already.

11.20 our train pulls in to Cambridge. Let’s go explore :)

Arriving at Cambridge was for lack of a better word, carnage. There were SO MANY people and the station was simply not big enough. It may have taken 10 minutes or so to navigate the exit, but once through the crush it was only a miles walk into town and all the good things that Cambridge has to offer.

For example …

Shopping

I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog how much I dislike high street shopping, whereas my better half loves it. It’s one of few things we disagree on. Markets however and market shopping IS something I can get on board with. The general market in the aptly named market square is a nice mix of food, general tourist tat, jewellery and bespoke crafts. The arts and crafts market just around the corner adopts the Ronseal approach and does exactly what it says on the tin.

Cambridge Market Square

Cambridge Market

The University

The university, of course the university, or should I say the collection of colleges and stunning grounds which make the university.

For a (small, ish) price, it is quite possible to wander the grounds of many of the different collages.

… As close to attending Cambridge uni (or Hogwarts) as I’ll ever get.

Corpus Christi College

The River Cam

You’ll be hard pressed to move through Cambridge without being approached by a young gent or lady asking if you’d like to heard out on one of their punts.

There are several companies offering tours up and down the River Cam, the choice is yours as to who you choose. There is also a choice to be made in whether you let someone else do the hard work for you, or whether you brave it and undertake a self guided tour.  I understand that the later option comes with a stern ‘you may get wet’ option.

River Cam punting, Cambridge

River Cam punting, Cambridge

River Cam punting, Cambridge

river-cam-cambridge-2

Views

What is it about climbing the tallest point of any particular destination and drinking in the views from its summit? It’s just the done thing right? … Because gorgeous views are awesome!

For spectacular views of Cambridge it’s up the Great St Mary’s Church tower you must go. It’s 123 winding, cramped steps to the top, but the views are totally worth it.

great-st-marys-church-tower-1

great-st-marys-church-tower-2

Cocktails (and secrets)

It’s been a while since the mrs and I last took a trip away, and having been a bit hermit like in general owing to the purchase of our first home, the boss and I finally found ourselves in the the right spot to celebrate with a few drinks, namely mojitos or anything containing rum.

Step up 2648, a sort of indie/dive bar located on Trinity Street, where you have your choice of board games to challenge your mates at, and where before 9pm on a Saturday you can satisfy your thirst with 2 cocktails for £8. Not bad, and definitely my kind of place.

Also, hidden within the bar is another, secret bar, accessed through a false wall and by only those who know the code. I love places like this, so much fun.

2648 cocktail bar

2648 cocktail bar

Views AND cocktails

What better than views and cocktails, than views AND cocktails together, in the one spot!

The Varsity Hotel and spa on Thompsons Lane is the place for this delightful duo, and no hotel reservation is required. Simply enter the hotel and make your way up to the sixth floor.

Quite the way to unwind after a busy day exploring the rest of the city.

rooftop cocktails

rooftop-cocktails-varsity-hotel-2

Cambridge Costs

I won’t lie, Cambridge can be an expensive place. Food and drink were not overly cheap (outside of happy hour) and once you’ve been punting, climbed to the top of the tower and visited a few colleges, your wallet will likely have a slight dent in it. The cost of travel I guess, but technically you are richer for the experiences :)

Anyway, here’s a few figures to give you some idea

  • Return train from/to London – £18pp
  • 3 course dinner for 2 – £35pp
  • Ticket for tower – 4.80pp
  • Group punting tour – £15pp
  • Cocktail atop the Varsity roof – £12 per cocktail
  • Cocktails at 2648 (before 9pm) – £8 for 2 cocktails
  • Entrance to college – anywhere from £2-£8 per person.
  • Breakfast – £10pp
  • Afternoon tea – £6pp

#TopCashbacking

OK so this ain’t my first rodeo, or to put it in terms that make sense, this trip was not the first time I’ve used TopCashback to earn money back against travel related bookings.  For some time now I’ve been using TopCashback as a route to collecting airmiles.  Of course you don’t have to go down the airmiles route, you can if you wish simply take the cold, hard cash(back).

Using my Cambridge trip for example, through booking both our train tickets and hotel using TCB, the mrs and I earned £19.40 in cashback.  Enough to cover a few of those cocktails I mentioned earlier.

With TopCashback its possible to earn money back through bookings with a lot of the big players in the travel industry, companies such as Expedia.co.uk, Hotels.com, Booking.com and lastminute.com.  But of course purchases don’t have to be travel related, I use TCB on almost all online purchases. Having recently bought a home, I’ve earned a tidy sum of cashback through ordering my new sofas, washing machine, dishwasher, fridge freezer and broadband through TCB.

What is cashback?

So what is cashback exactly?

Well to be fair it aint rocket science, but it is awesome. Essentially when you, a consumer buy something you get a percentage of that spend back in cash. For example, if you spend £100 on a flight, and there is 10% cashback, you get £10 back. Essentially cashback allows consumers to get some of their money back from their spending.

How do cashback websites work?

OK so when you log into your TCB account, TopCashback tracks what you spend and where you spend via internet wizardry. Once your purchase has been confirmed by the retailer, the retailer pays TopCashback a percentage of the sale. This money is then given straight back to you.

How much do you stand to save?

Members on average earn £325 a year on their spending by using TopCashback; no catch.

Competition time

OK so here’s your chance to win £150, £300 or even £500, and all your have to do is share a selfie while your on holiday, and tell the guys at TCB just how much cashback you earned by using their site to help book your travels.

The competition closes as of 31st August, and 3 winners will be annoucned as of September 2nd.  For more details and all terms and conditions, please check out the official competition page -> £1,000 Prize Giveaway with our Travel Selfie Competition

Now I’m not normally a selfie kind of guy, but in the spirit of competition here’s a couple of my efforts below.

Best of luck!

Where in the world?

An overnight trip to Cambridge