Our first night in the Hilton was short lived because we had to get up early to get to Windsor by the time it opened to arrive before the masses. So, we got onto the train at Paddington (right by our hotel) and took that train to Slough and from there took the direct train to Windsor. You all know what a castle looks like in your head? That is what Windsor Castle is...it's like the epitome of royal residences for me, exactly what they should look like. This is also the longest residence of the British royalty, some 900 years of existence and it hasn't been destroyed. The closest it came was by fire just a few years ago.
When we got to the line, Braden and I went to the "express" line because we had the London Pass and Rhonda had to buy a ticket because she had already used her entrance into Windsor before Braden and I arrived from Edinburgh. So, we were in this "express" line and we ended up taking like 5 minutes longer than Rhonda. So, that was great. But, we got our complementary headsets and were on our way to explore the castle. It was another beautiful day and I was eagerly listening to my history in my headset when I realized that mine was (of course) broken. Thankfully, Braden loves me, so he gave me his. He also had been here before, so it wasn't a big deal, I think, but I'm still thankful. We got to see all around the castle walls before going inside.
I was (again, of course) yelled at when I took my camera out inside the castle, so there isn't a lot I can do in terms of explaining it. It was beautiful. It was stunning. It was at times breathtaking. It was royal. It was so great and I'm so happy we went. It was one of the most wonderful palaces/castles I had been to and I would for sure go back.
Above is St. George's Chapel where all of the royals attended (and, I guess still attend) their mass (it's been Catholic and Anglican). Catherine of Aragon especially attended when her husband, King Henry VIII was trying to ban Catholicism in England. Ironically, King Henry VIII's gate is right behind me while I was taking this picture. There were even more famous people buried here. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._George's_Chapel,_Windsor_Castle#Burials) Some highlights for me were King Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and King George VI.
After we left the castle, we went on to do some shopping for souvenirs and then we had a really great British lunch and went back to the train station and back to downtown London. We had one day left with the London Pass that paid for things, so we wanted to go to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. We finally got to walk along the Millennium Bridge and we took some pictures.
We got into the Globe Theatre just in time to miss the next tour, so we had a half hour to kill. We had really wanted to fit in four things into the day, but it was only looking like we were going to make it to three. We walked around and we learned about theatre culture in London during Shakespeare's time. Apparently, it was illegal to perform shows in the city of London because it led to prostitution and drinking and gambling, so they had to go on the other side of the Thames to land that was owned by a bishop. We also saw a wall filled with sayings that are attributed to Shakespeare that we still use today, such as: "vanished into thin air", "budge and inch", or "own flesh and blood".
After walking around, we got into our tour and we were shown the inside of the theatre. That part right down there with the people in it, can hold over 1,000 people! In the times of Shakespeare, around 3,000. The tour guide we had was really funny and said a lot of interesting things about history and the rebuilding process. It was actually roofed with straw, the only building allowed to do that in London since the great fire in (I think) the 16th century. Also, we're bigger now-a-days because we actually eat a healthy diet. Oh, the things you learn.
That's our tour guide with the headband
When the tour was finished, we went to the gift store and bought cute magnets and other stuff. We had to choose next between the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum, and we chose to do the War Museum. On the way, I dropped my cute mug that I bought in Windsor and it made me very very sad. We also we stuck behind some really annoying kids on the Millennium Bridge that we blockading the entire pathway...so I pushed them. I think it was justified.
We got to the Imperial War Museum and we went into the special exhibition that was on children's books involving war. It was pretty cool. After that, we went to the World War section of the museum. It was really cool and we got to walk through a replica of what life in the trenches was like in WWI and also a simulation of the bombing of London.
After that, we went back to the hotel to drop some stuff off and then off we were again. Jeff had to work later that night, so we went off on our own, just the three of us. First we went to Piccadilly Circus and we got to see it at night. It's like a miniature Time Square, not quite as cool, but it was still really pretty and right next to West End with all the shows. I really wish we had been able to see a show, but it just didn't work out.
From Piccadilly Circus, we went to the Ice Bar, London and we were lucky enough to get a spot in one of the time slots right when we got there. We had to get on our parkas with our mittens and then we got drinks with shot glasses made out of ice! It was so cool (I had a cosmo).
After we were finished at the Ice Bar we walked to the other end of Piccadilly and ate at CHIPOTLE!!! So exciting, we haven't had anything like that in so long and it was delicious. From there we walked to the Hard Rock. It was a longer walk than we thought it was and there was a man with a black car without headlights on that almost hit Rhonda, and she yelled at him. That was funny. We got to Hard Rock and it was really busy, but we got nice seats outside and drank our drinks.
On the walk home we passed the Wellington Arch, which is pretty when lit up with its purple and orange and stuff. From there it was home for the night.