A Day on my Own … Thurs. 7/13/17 (or 13/07/17)
My friend and tour guide had to work on Thursday. So, left to my own devices, I got directions from the friends I stayed with. They live in West London. The London Pass guidebook provided pretty decent, detailed instructions on how to get to Windsor Castle from central London. However, it made much more sense for me to take a bus to Southall station and then catch the National Rail Service train instead of heading into Paddington station and coming back out.
Darn British Queues
Aside: if you’ve seen Dunkirk, you’ll see that queues are a time-honored British tradition dating back decades and probably centuries.
So, when I got to Windsor, I found the queue (line) to be giant. Not even 100% sure it was the right queue, I asked someone. Got a snotty response from some tourist jerk, but anyway, a few minutes later, I found out that that was not the queue for the castle. People lined the streets on both side to see the changing of the guards. Got a decent look at them while stuck in the wrong freaking line. Took my touristy pictures you see above.
After the excitement, I made my way over to the real line and waited. I think the total wait was something like forty minutes, but no matter. I got some quality kindle reading done while listening to the inane chatter around me. People behind me had two kids but I think the parents did the most complaining. Kids kept shut because they had ice cream treats on the line for behavior later.
Left to Right: The Queen and Prince Philip; Queen and the cute crew; a tower at Windsor Castle
At least the inside version of the queue had pretty pictures to look at.
Notice the vertical slashes in the tower picture. Those are for archers. It’s a wonder anybody could hit something from there. There is a small area where you can have some lateral movement to target, but yikes, still looks tough. Those walls mean business too.
State Rooms and Audio Tours
The trip to Windsor Castle gave me my first glimpse of king and queen state rooms as well as the audio tours that exist at many tourist attractions in and around London.
They don’t want you to take pictures inside, so there are staff around to remind people, but people can be willfully dense when they want to be. I saw at least two people with their phones out taking pictures. I’m pretty sure they listened to the same audio tour I did, which had at least a dozen tactful requests to refrain from taking pictures.
I didn’t get to see the doll house but that’s okay. I think I’ll live without the privilege. Saw an ice cream vendor, but didn’t get that either because I knew I wanted to see the state rooms. Doubted they’d let ice cream in the doors.
I enjoyed the audio tour.
After coming out of the state rooms, I wandered into a gift shop. My friend had been on the hunt for tourist chocolate, so I bought him some. And I might have bought a postcard or two.
St. George’s Cathedral
Wandered around this lovely cathedral listening to the tour. It’s surprisingly big inside. Got to talk to one of the staff there a few minutes. I would have liked to stay for one of the services, but I needed to leave soon. I believe the only service left would have been at 5:00 p.m. Spent a few minutes in one of the quiet prayer rooms, but I can’t say I prayed much. People being people (inconsiderate buffoons when they want to be) … a few families brought in their hordes of children and chattered like it was their personal living room.
Lots of dead important people tucked into small tombs around that cathedral. Place has some deep history.
Picture of the guard on duty
Poor guy. Do you have any idea how long it took me just to steal that picture of him alone? About 8 minutes. Every other second a tourist was stepping up next to the man to have their picture taken with him. At least the uniform makes him photogenic. That chin strap looks devilishly itchy though.
Lunch at a Small Cafe
By the time I left the castle, I needed to eat so I meandered back down to the town. The lady at the exit said I could find a toilet by going down to Victoria statue and turning left. Not sure what she meant, but I found a nice cafe with a tiny necessary without much of a hitch. Got a cappuccino and a chicken pasty. The former was okay, but the latter downright rocked. (Lilebet’s was the cafe for those who care.) I’m very particular about my coffee.
Wandering the Town
I didn’t have much time left because I needed to get back to my friends’ house, but I did get to check out a few of the stores. I window shopped a little, and yes, I bought another postcard. I considered purchasing a stamp just to have until I found out it was two pounds. Figured I’d send the darn things from inside the states for that price.
Went into a Hardys Sweets shop (candy store) and amused myself for a few minutes looking around. It’s kind of funny what’s imported as candy. The two things that stuck out to me the most were Pringles and Pop Tarts. Ended up getting a small assortment of random gummy things. Wanted to get one of the collectible tins but didn’t want to carry the thing.
Back to Base
Accidentally missed the bus stop nearest my friends, so I had a bit of a walk back. Worked out fine as the weather cooperated that day.
Need to Catch Up?
Part 1: Preparation, Planning, Cost
Part 2: Arrival and First Day in the City
Part 3: Getting into Tourist Mode