We had another 11-hour flight from Johannesburg to London, so by the time we arrived in London we'd technically been up for two days. It was early morning when we got to London, and by the time we retrieved our luggage, went through customs, found which train(s) to take to our hotel in the suburb of East Croydon, and arrived at said hotel, it was around 10:30 in the morning. And we were already exhausted! So we begged for mercy at the hotel front desk, and they allowed us to have our room early. We both had showers and a short nap, so we felt refreshed enough to venture out in the afternoon. We wandered around a bit and ended up at Trafalgar Square, but we didn't do much that day.
On Saturday, our first full day in London, we decided to go to Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth. We took the train out into the country to the village of Windsor, and I was surprised to see that the castle is just up a little hill from the village! I've always thought of English castles as way out in the country with nothing around them. We shopped a few minutes in the village, then made our way up the hill to the castle entrance in the rain. Pouring rain. Since we hadn't brought an umbrella with us, we bought one in the gift shop. Lots of money.
Here are some pictures from outside the castle.
|Walking up the hill to the castle|
|The round tower, which is probably the most famous part of the castle - when the Queen is in residence, her flag flies from that pole at the top|
|From inside the castle grounds, with St. George's chapel on the left and the employees' living quarters on the right|
|A montage of other pictures from the castle grounds|
|Wes bought me a crown charm for my Pandora bracelet at the Pandora store in Windsor village|
|Cath Kidston! I love so much from Cath Kidston, but I don't have the money to buy very much! This shop was in Windsor. I also went to the flagship store in London, where I bought a couple of souvenirs.|
Of course, pictures are not allowed inside the castle! Each room was gorgeous, though, and I just love the history that goes with the castle. I especially loved seeing the State Apartments, where the Queen still receives guests and hosts dinners and holds ceremonies. I like lots of pomp and ceremony and splendour!
We also toured Queen Mary's Dolls' House, which is a miniature castle all on its own, with electricity and running water and everything else to make it a working replica of an aristocratic home of its time. At the link I included above, there's an interactive tour, which is probably better than the one we took just walking around the house and looking into the rooms!
And we toured St. George's Chapel, which was built over 1,000 years ago. I find it amazing that buildings this old still exist! This chapel serves as the burial place for ten rulers, including Henry VIII and one of his wives. They still hold services there three times a day, so it's very much a working chapel. The architecture is fascinating!
You can view a video of Windsor Castle, if you'd like. You'll see some of the inside in this video and learn some of the history of the castle.
So that was our first day in London. I'm not sure if I'll have to make each day its own post, but we packed a lot into the week we were there. I'll have more pictures ready soon!