Okay, I’m going to start lobbying for a train system in Minnesota. Just sayin’. We took the tube to Paddington station, walked up to the kiosk and 3 minutes later had tickets to Windsor. Seriously, traveling around England could not be easier. Do you know how nice it would be to take the train to Rochester or Duluth?
Windsor is about 35 minutes outside London. You’d think they would have a direct train with the amount of tourists that travel there but it does require a transfer. Since the train system is so well run, we waited maybe 3-4 minutes for the connecting train.
I’ve had butterflies in my stomach since I woke up. Going to Windsor – this is big BIG stuff for me so I will admit that as the train came around a bend and I caught my first glimpse of the castle, I cried. We exited the train station and walked through a little attached retail area. Suddenly, right in front of me was the outer wall.
You feel like you’re in the castle long before you buy your tickets and enter it proper. Even the building where you purchase your tickets is a treat.
We missed the changing of the guard by about 10 minutes (damn) but in the grand scheme, it didn’t matter much. We did the whole tour, though I found the state apartments rather boring as they were newer (yes, 300 years old is too new for me) but the rest of it was breath taking. They wouldn’t allow me to get near the Round Tower (damn them) so I left feeling like my visit wasn’t complete. The Round Tower is near the courtyard that includes the entrance to the current State Apartments. In other words, a bit too close to the current Queen. Ya’ know, it’s not like she was there or anything. I’m actually really surprised how close they did allow us.
St. George’s Chapel was the highlight of the tour. We were looking up at the Garter Knights’ banners, trying to figure out who was who and happened to look down at the floor. A mere two feet away was the tomb of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Very simple, nothing fancy. The stone is a replacement, very simple brass embedded letters. Being in the center of the aisle, the original probably wore down quite a bit. As St. George’s is the official resting place of the Windsor’s, we saw the tombs of QEII’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents as well.
The don’t allow photos inside the chapel but we were able to get some great photos of the exterior.
We walked through Henry’s Gate. Henry’s Gate was added during Henry VIII reign. Since it involved compromising the outer wall of the castle, thus making it more vulnerable to attack, it required Henry to personally approve the addition. There has since been a couple more added but it’s been quite some time since the French attacked with battering rams so I don’t believe they pose much risk.
You can even see where/how they added it in. Seems a daunting task considering how thick the walls are.
We walked around the town of Windsor for a bit. What we saw of the town was mostly tourist shops, and we weren’t shopping, so we didn’t spend much time there. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches and headed back to London.
I can’t remember what we did that night. I’ll have to ask Jacki. To be honest, we probably didn’t do anything. We had a tendency to go in early and rest up for the very full days.
I’m including pictures of the amazingly beautiful moat garden. I’ve heard people talk about English gardens. I’ve seen photos, I’ve watched TV shows about them but never “got” what all the fuss was about. I do now! I think talking about the gardens will be its own blog post. They deserve the attention.