Here we were, on our next to last sightseeing day and we definitely felt it! We got up and got out the door in order to take the train an hour to Windsor Castle. We had the London Pass for this trip, which has saved us a lot of money (I can’t wait to add up the total savings!), just in unlimited public transportation alone. On our trip out to Hampton Court the other day, we learned that we did not need to purchase an additional train ticket, but that our Travelcard was sufficient. So we got on the train this morning (missed the one we aimed for by less than one minute…it was literally still in the station but would not allow us to open the door) and, as per my usual, I slept most of the way…until Jaime nudged me awake because they were checking fares and apparently our Travelcard was NOT sufficient for this journey. Yes, we rode without proper fare, but thankfully she just let us pay and moved on. I didn’t get arrested!
The beauty of the London Pass is that it allows you entry into almost all attractions (I think we have only had to pay for the Eye) AND allows you to skip the lines at a few of them. Windsor Castle was a skip-the-line attraction, so when we saw the long lines, we strode up to the gentleman in charge and tried to go through. No such luck. Apparently there was a non-London Pass line and a London Pass line. So we still had to wait in line. I was not impressed. Once we were able to get into the building to show our pass, we saw there was another line. And people were taking forever at the cash registers. Once we got to the registers, it only took us 2.2, so I don’t know what in the hell those other people were doing. Then we had to get in yet ANOTHER line for security. It was all just too much and we did not appreciate having to wait in three lines in order to get in.
Once we were in, it was very beautiful and we could tell why it is the Queen’s favorite castle and her “weekend” home. (She only “works” Tuesday-Thursday at Buckingham these days.) The grounds were pretty, but nothing compared to Hampton Court. I was especially excited for the St. George’s Chapel, as that is where Henry VIII is buried, along with his favorite wife, Jane Seymour. I spent some time at his tomb and, because photos were not allowed, I bought a postcard of his memorial.
We then viewed the State Apartments, which are still used when the Queen sees visitors there, and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which is a dollhouse replica of an aristocratic house, built between 1921-1924. It was a beautiful doll house, if you could call it that! The detail was phenomenal. After some shopping, we got McDonald’s for the train ride back and headed out! Again, I slept the whole way.
Once back in London, we made our way to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, only to find out that you needed a ticket. My travel guides were quite unclear on this topic, as it appeared that you could go in without charge and only needed a ticket if you wanted the guided tour. That is not the case. You could only get in with a guided tour ticket and, of course, they were sold out. And only open on Saturdays. Awesome. This is a huge disappoint for me, as I was very much looking forward to this. I guess I will have to come back some day.
So we moved on to the Churchill War Rooms, which were fascinating and I wish my father was here to see them. This was Churchill’s bunker during WWII, where all of Britain’s moves were decided upon, where their (coded) messages were sent and received overseas, where Churchill called the President, etc. Everything in the map room, which was the main room, is as it was when they up and left and locked the rooms in 1945 after the war. It was very interesting to see the war from Britain’s standpoint, especially with all the damage the Nazi’s did to them. I saw a stat that 450,000 homes in Britain were destroyed by bombs and over 4 million were damaged. That is crazy.
After the War Rooms we were going to go to the London Eye, but it was starting to sprinkle (though that’s all it did…I don’t think I will jinx tomorrow by saying we have not really had any rain this entire trip!) and we were both exhausted, so we decided to head back to the hotel (we also contemplated seeing St. Paul’s Cathedral instead of going to Mass tomorrow, but it was closed). We rested briefly before going back out to Green Park (1/2 block from our hotel) because local artists had set up their art for sale. We then made a candy run to Tesco (family members, you can look forward to some European candy very soon!) and then to a local Italian place for dinner. We have since been trying to finagle our luggage and carry on’s to fit all of our souvenirs! We change hotels tomorrow (we had to stay one night in a different hotel in order to get our game ticket), so we are trying to figure this all out tonight. Somehow I’m sure we will manage.
I can’t believe we only have one day left! We are going to rent bikes and ride through Hyde Park, see Kensington Palace, and ride the London Eye before changing hotels, eating lunch, and making our way to Wembley for some tailgating before the big game!! It’s been a great trip, but I am definitely ready to be home!