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Sightseeing and tourist activities

Cambridge is a world-famous tourist destination, and many of the most popular sights are less than a 5-minute walk from St Catharine's college (including those on the banner photo above, taken on King's Parade - St Catharine's is at the left of this photo, the famous King's College Chapel centre-left, then the University Senate House and "gothic missile launcher" Gonville and Caius College to the right). If you haven't visited Cambridge before, make sure you don't miss the main attractions.

The following list is totally personal - use trip advisor, or the Cambridge Tourist Information office if you want other opinions:

King's College Chapel. World famous architectural masterpiece. The outside is amazing, but the inside astonishing - an incredible late medieval vaulted ceiling, beautiful stained glass, stone carving and so on. 

Cambridge market square. A working traditional market (where I do my own grocery shopping), that has operated in more or less this form for 2000 years, since the Roman first built a town around their Bridge that crossed the river Cam.

The river Cam, as with most medieval towns, runs through the city centre. There are many ways to enjoy the river: walking along the College "backs" (the remains of ancient meadows, often with wildflowers and grazing cows), from the Anchor pub on Silver Street bridge and nearby Coe Fen, to the site of the original Roman bridge on Bridge Street, along the promenade of Quayside, then on to Jesus Green and the riverside towpath to Midsummer Common, Riverside, Stourbridge common and beyond. These are popular walking, running or cycling routes, ideal and scenic exercise for as many miles as you want to go.

OK - one more way to "enjoy" the river. You can see the river by floating on the river, in a "punt" - the traditional water-borne rickshaw equivalent of English rivers. Think Venetian gondolas, but far (... far far ...) less pretentious. Aggressive punt touts all over the city will try to sell you chauffeured tours by river, but you can also hire your own punt, and just push yourself along. It's not hard or dangerous, but can be embarrassing until you figure out how to stop your punt going in circles.

Other colleges - King's College (and St Catharine's) are not the only ones. There are another 28, each with their own character, all over town. Some are modern and some ancient - the oldest is Peterhouse, dating back 800 years. The largest is Trinity. We will have our conference banquet in Corpus Christi. Luke belongs to Downing, with stately formal lawns and facades, Alan to Darwin, founded in 1966 in the house of Charles Darwin's son George, with extensive informal gardens and river islands. You can simply walk in to many colleges, though some of the most famous and historic sell tickets in peak tourist season. The City Council provides an officially licensed guide service, with guides who have permission to take groups into most colleges.

Cambridge University has an amazing variety of museums combining public galleries and research collections, including the large Fitzwilliam Museum, just along the road from St Catharine's, which has collections of historic art and sculpture to rival many national galleries. Smaller treats include the Whipple Museum of history of science, the "Lines of Enquiry" exhibition currently at the University Library - original manuscripts by Newton, Darwin and others - the Archaeology and Anthropology museum, the University Botanic Gardens, an exhibition of Ai Wei Wei at Downing College, and many others. All are within a 10 minute walk of the conference venue.

If you like visiting the site of historic events, there are endless opportunities. The Eagle pub where Watson and Crick announced they had found the structure of DNA (1 minute from St Catharine's), the Lab where Rutherford split the atom (Free School Lane, 2 minutes), Charles Darwin's undergraduate rooms at Christ's College (5 minutes), Isaac Newton's memorial at Trinity (5 minutes) which has a tree outside the college supposedly descended from that apple, and so on. For ancient architecture, the tower of St Benet's church (1 minute) is over 1000 years old, while the Round Church (5 minutes) is over 800.