This week was particularly special, because one of my best friends from home came to visit my friend Lauren and me in London for the week! It was so nice to have a slice of home thrown in to my life here, and it also tested my knowledge of the city well! We did all of the major tourist destinations on Sunday and Monday, including Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye. We ate in various pubs across town in an effort to give Trish the true British Experience, and even road bikes around Hyde Park on a sunny afternoon. These days were really nice, but my favorite day of her visit was by far the day we went to Windsor Castle.
Windsor is a good one hour train ride outside of London, but it is definitely worth the trek. The town itself is lovely, with plenty of shops and cafes waiting around every corner. The real jewel of the area, however, is the magnificent castle situated just up a small hill from the rest of the town. Windsor Castle is where Queen Elizabeth II lives, as many of the monarchs did before her. The castle is just as one would picture a mid evil castle to look like, with tall fortress walls surrounding the gardens and tall towers for look-outs. Here is a picture of the outside of Windsor Castle:
The inside of the castle was also breathtaking, but in a different sort of way. It was filled with amazing works of art and intricate pieces of furniture and tapestries, each more magnificent than the next. Many of the rooms included fine china, dressers, armor, etc. all having once belonged to famous monarchs throughout British history. We got to go into the room where Queen Elizabeth entertains other heads of state with fancy dinner parties, as well as the room where she uses a sword to knight those who fought for Britain. Additionally, there was a room filled with 60 pictures of the Queen representing the 60 years she has served as such. These images portrayed her throughout the years during various major events, gatherings, and even just her pastimes. Our guide told us all about the celebration that is set to occur this June, known as her Diamond Jubilee, in honor of her being only the second monarch to achieve 60 years as ruler.
Following our tour of the castle, Trish and I went to dinner with her cousins who moved to England for graduate school. They took us to dinner at a restaurant in Eton, the town next to Windsor. Aside from the fact that the meal was DELICIOUS (steak and Guinness pie!) the night was also great because we got to pass the famous Eton College where prince William and prince Harry went to high school. This was a cool experience, mostly because Eton College is almost as breathtaking as Windsor Castle itself! The college is massive, occupying various buildings including many dormitories for students. Additionally, all of the students were walking around in black robes resembling those in Harry Potter, which just made the sight that much more jaw dropping! Overall, the whole day was just truly fascinating, as I got to learn much more about the royal family – a topic which everyone in England seems quite familiar with! I look forward to watching the many movies about the British monarchy when I have some free time this summer!