Looking to limit the damage caused by the financial implications of visiting my relatives in the UK. I sought to cut costs at every opportunity. London Victoria is easily reachable by train from Peckham and so it appeared to be a good choice to buy this bus ticket to Cambridge on the National Express's website. At £6.40, plus tax, the ticket was under half the price of the train ticket.
London Victoria does not seem to have changed greatly over the years, it's still busy and the lanes seem to be unbelievably small. Cramped and rule bound, passengers squirm in their seats, eager to board their chosen bus. Regular commuters must prefer the train, as I was accompanied solely by tourists. Swedish, Spanish and Japanese, lots of Japanese.
After departing Victoria Coach Station, the mdoern bus edges its way through the traffic filled streets of London. if the coach meets another large vehicle such as a truck or bus coming in the opposite direction, the road is barely passable. After an hour or so, you reach Bow, heart of East London.
The next notable sight is the Olympic complex, home to so many stadia that it's difficult to say which arena is the main one. Providing its not rush hour, progress is a lot easier from that point onwards because the M11 starts.
The minute you pull off the motorway, you are in the vicinity of Cambridge, first up is the Park and Ride stop on the outskirts of the city and then it's a couple of miles to Parker's Piece, a coach stop by a playing field come park.
To get to the bus stop, a small walk is in order, go straight int he direction the bus you have left is facing, cross the road, negotiate the thin stretch of road and then you will see Cambridge Bus Station, in all its glory, barely worthy of a village, let alone such a historical city. What must newly arrived rich foreign students think?
On my return leg, I had booked a coach from Parker's Piece to London Stansted but had not counted on having so much time to kill, other than a handful of pubs and restaurants, Cambridge seems to go to bed rather early.
My tickets were for 10pm and were non-changeable but I decided to give it a go, all the same. At about 8pm, a coach pulled up and I explained to the driver that my bus wasn't due for 2 hours. He replied that it was not a problem and that I was welcome to get onboard. Apart from a lady, the bus was totally empty and I had to question the profitability of running such an hourly service. London Stansted is about 40 minutes drive from Cambridge and traffic was non-existant that evening.