It has been an amazing travel day! We left Stratford at 9am and I said my bittersweet farewells. I wasn’t upset long- Once we got to Windsor I was absolutely captivated.
To media-savvy Millennials, Windsor Castle is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married, but that is only one year of a castle that’s 953 years old. Walking through St. George’s Chapel I passed a marker of the remains of King Henry VIII. Normally a king’s grave wouldn’t interest me, but Henry VII is the subject of the musical Six which I’ve had on repeat for the last month. His third wife Jane Seymour (“the only one he truly loved”) was also buried there, and it was amazing to connect tangible markers to such an intriguing story. There were no photos allowed inside the chapel and I’m not one to break sensible rules. Not only did we walk through the opulent chapel and around the immense castle, but we got to walk through the state Apartments. If that sounds boring, trade out “apartment” for “mansion” and visualize that. Queen Elizabeth stays in this luxurious abode when she has business in Windsor. I imagine she stayed there during Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Every room is a blend of museum and ornate conference room. The Queen’s Garden room was reproduced or used on The Crown. Again, photos were prohibited. Windsor Castle is as old as Durham Cathedral, but they have quite different atmospheres. Durham is hushed and sacred and ancient while Windsor is bustling and current and inviting. Both places have indoor tomb markers but at St. George’s Chapel people are allowed to walk across them. I suppose since the burial vault is far below the church it’s not quite sacrilege, but I still watched my steps. While marveling at the grandeur of Windsor, I also appreciated the presence of female security guards. I hadn’t seen any female officers in any capacity at other tourist attractions, but there were many at Windsor. Perhaps it’s a deliberate reflection of the estate’s value of modernity and equality, or perhaps I haven’t been paying attention until now.
I didn’t get a picture of the female security guards in “ordinary dress” but I did capture this well-dressed soldier. I heard a tour guide say that these guards spend six months guarding the palace and six months in active war zones, so they are the real deal.
After our castle tour, we ended up at Bluegrass Smokehouse. It’s basically an American burger joint in the middle of one of England’s oldest settlements. They even had knockoff covers of popular American country songs blaring. It was surreal but comforting to find an authentic taste of home across the pond.
As we made our way from Windsor o the hotel, we drove through lots of London neighborhoods. London is such an interesting city. The areas alternate between very modern, quasi-American city and “typical English suburb”. It reminds me of how New York is portrayed on TV shows. I love that literally everyone has flowers in the window, in every city.
Once we got to London we settled into our hotel and walked around the neighborhood: I had sushi for the first time and it was delicious! It was a lovely day of travel and exploration and a good way to whet our appetite for the chaotic adventure of London!
Bon Voyage 🇬🇧 E