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Published: July 23rd 2009
We started out this morning with a slight glitch. I was mistakenly booked onto the wrong day trip and didn’t notice until it was too late to try and change it (there are benefits to waiting until you get to London to book these tours instead of booking them online through a third party…lesson learned). Instead of a “Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath” trip, we ended up on a “Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Oxford” trip, which probably wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t already been to Oxford. I tried (and failed) to get onto the other tour instead, but it all worked out in the end and we had a nice day anyway, Oxford and all.
One benefit of the tour we ended up on was that it was a smaller group (and a smaller bus), meaning that we got to Windsor Castle faster than the other groups and also were the first ones let in when the castle opened. Score! The Queen was in residence (is she following us???), but luckily everything was still open for touring. Windsor Castle, which dates back to the time of William the Conqueror, is the largest inhabited castle in the world
and the oldest in continuous occupation.
The tour starts by looking at Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, which is INCREDIBLE and complete with working fixtures and plumbing. I was never really into doll houses but trust me when I say that this one is impressive! We then walked through the State Apartments which are used mainly for royal visitors and contain several paintings, armor (including a suit of Henry VIII), furniture, dishes, and other treasures.
After walking around the interior of the castle, we then walked around the grounds and then made our way through the shops and train station to where our bus was waiting.
Our next stop was Stonehenge. The traffic when you start getting closer to Stonehenge is extremely slow, so once again it was nice to be in a smaller bus that could weave in and out to get us there more quickly. When we arrived it had started to rain, but fortunately it subsided not long after we started walking around. Stonehenge, located in the county of Willshire, is a prehistoric monument of circular stones and one of the most famous sites in the world. Surrounded by burial mounds, experts still do not
know all the answers regarding Stonehenge (although some TV specials will try to make you believe differently). The area is roped off and set up to lead the crowds completely around it before returning through a tunnel to the other side of the street (and a gift shop, of course!). It’s a fascinating place, just as I’d imagined it would be.
After Stonehenge (and some money spending in the gift shop), our next stop was Oxford. We weren’t exactly looking forward to this part since we’d already been here, but it was a nice visit nonetheless. We walked passed Christ Church this time (entrance is only possible through pre-arrangements with a group). Do you know the banquet scenes in the Harry Potter films? That is the interior or Christ Church College (although the move wasn’t actually filmed there). After passing Christ Church we walked around more the college, passing the Church of St. Mary and Radcliffe Camera before making our way out to the main street. A graduation was had just taken place so there were students in their white fur collars wandering the streets among us.
Before leaving Oxford we stopped at News Café for scones (with
clotted cream and jam) and high tea. I’d been wanting scones with clotted cream this entire trip so it was nice to finally get it on our last day (a lot of places we went to just served regular butter and/or jam). We finished our tea and scones and then it was time to return to London.
We got back to Victoria Station at about 7pm and walked down Belgrave Road toward our hotel, stopping along the way at The Marquis Pub for our last dinner and pints. Most of the dished served had ret meat (which I don’t eat) so I had a fish finger sandwich and chips with a pint of Staropramen (beer from Praque, kind of fitting since that’s one of my very favorite places) that we‘ve traveled to together). We ate and drank and soaked up the Saturday evening pub noise before returning for the last time to our hotel.
Tomorrow we fly home. I don’t know where the time has flown. 26 days have whizzed by and yet it also somehow feels like we’ve been here longer. I guess that’s what happens when you travel somewhere. A piece of you gets left behind
and your memory both lingers and fades in its grasp.
It was an amazing trip, full of adventures and stories that I will hold dear to my heart. Until next time..
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