Friday, August 11, 2017

Day Three in London! Windsor Castle, The Queen's Gallery and Mews

I have to tell you that I DO love waking up in the apartment that we rented, in London, in the mornings; a pot of tea, a cup of coffee, quiches bought at the boulangerie last night, some Greek yogurt and dates, and planning our day. It is a different way of life, one that I could easily become accustomed to; I have to admit, going to the refrigerator, without tons of half filled Tupperware, is a pleasure!

I still feel as though I am living a fairy tale, and can hardly believe all of the fabulous things I have seen and experienced. I also find it a bit interesting how quickly our "plans" morph into something different than our original thoughts!lol

Our big "plan" of the day is Windsor Castle, which we are planning to hit towards the end of the day, in order to avoid the lines; it is all I can do to get to an attraction and then through that attraction; if there are long lines, it is a deal breaker.

So, with that in mind, we decided to head down towards Buckingham Palace and try and see the Queens Mews, (that would be horses, not kittens! Lol) and the Queens Gallery; as our travel luck would have it, the lines were very, very short! We practically walked right up and in, thanks to the London Pass and thank you, travel angels!

Seeing the queens horses, and their "gear" was quite enjoyable; she has 32 horses that are highly trained, yet do get pasture time, too. The groomsmen and staff all live in castle -like buildings, on site. It is quite the compound and I wonder what they get paid for such a position? Considering you are living in an amazing setting, on Royal ground, I wonder, too, if you have an entire, fully functioning apartment, or just a room with shared bathrooms and kitchens.

Very shiny, well maintained tackle!

How much free time do you have and what is your salary? hmmmm, Food for thought!

After walking around the stables, we went on to see the many horse drawn carriages on display. They really were remarkable; one beauty after another. Of course, my favorite was the glass carriage; just imagining Princess Diana, riding in that carriage to her wedding was enough to bring me to tears.
I am one of the many people that actually watched  her wedding "live" on TV; I remember it so well. I am sure that on that day, she had no idea how she would touch the hearts of so many, and that she would die so tragically, and so young. I was making my youngest son's birthday cake the day she died; it still breaks my heart.
Princess Dianna sat right in there!

They had a carriage that guests could sit in and I found it interesting how much it "wobbled"; I can only imagine how much it must bounce its' riders around, while going down cobblestone streets. If we hadn't been in crunch-time to get to Windsor, I would have had the time to try on a guardsman hat and jacket! Oh well, next time!

We saved ourselves just enough time for a quick visit to the Queen's Gallery. Because we had purchased the London Pass, these short little visits made "good sense, and good cents!" While we never would have paid separately to go into the gallery with as little time as we had, with our pass we felt that it was a bonus! Since there was practically no line,  we were able to buzz through the  gallery, quickly.

My favorite paintings were in the Venice Collection, by Canaletto. It was so much fun to see these really old paintings and to recognize all of the places we had just been in Venice, such a short time ago. I don't know what it is, but recognizing buildings and streets that you had just stood on, in the paintings, that were painted a long, long time ago, was remarkable.

After that little side trip, we headed to Windsor Castle; the London Pass that we purchased also provided us with transportation to the castle, so after an underground to Paddington, we hopped on a train to Slough, and then on a train to Windsor. We are so proficient on the railways, that it is almost scary! Lol We just love the way you can get from one place to another, in a hop, skip and a jump!

The train rides were quick, and so smooth, that you could hardly believe you were traveling by railway. Before you knew it, we saw the castle! It is HUGE! We made it up the hill, through a fabulous shopping area and walked right onto the grounds; NO line!! TOTAL SCORE!

We were told to hit St. George Chapel first, and then the State Apartments; both were beyond comprehension in beauty, and we were astounded with all that we saw;  I was quite disappointed that there were no photos allowed, as not only do I wish to share, I also like to look back and have my fading memories refreshed. The chapel had many rooms, chapels and dead people! Lol

There were little alters, in little corners all around the church, and medallions, of some sort all over the ceiling! I asked one of the docents, jokingly, if those were up there to entertain the children during the long masses, when they were bored! Lol I said you could play eye spy, for hours!
also snagged from google; see all those medallions?

He told me that they were medallions, representing all of the people and families that had donated money to build the chapel. Lol The more $$ the bigger the emblem! They were quite intricate in nature, and I am sure you could spend many, many hours looking at them.

It was, a magnificent chapel.

Next we went over to the State Apartments, and the first thing we saw there was Queen Mary's dollhouse; it was like no other doll house that I have ever seen. It was probably seven or eight feet tall, with the furniture sized for dolls maybe eight inches tall. It was a work of art! It literally had four to five floors of rooms, on all four side, with no detail left out. I found it fascinating and could have stayed right there for hours.

snagged off the internet!

It had nurseries, day rooms, play rooms, servants quarters, bathrooms, the Queen's room, the King's room, dining rooms, a fleet of cars, and every little thing to replicate a stately home, of great wealth, that I cannot even imagine. It was magnificent; I cannot even imagine that it was a child's "toy" and I cannot believe how well preserved it was.
yeah, dining room in a DOLL HOUSE!

Of course, we had to keep moving, so as not to miss any of the rooms; I am sure that Joe enjoyed the weapons and armor room much more than the dollhouse, but I did not! lol There were art galleries, ballrooms, both stately and glitzy, and a room full of coats of arms; there were 1006 of them, with twenty some, painted over. According to a docent, these were knights that had either been executed, or fallen from grace; apparently those Tudors were ruthless bunch.

The State Apartments were truly a sight to behold, and I only wish I had photos to remind me of their grandeur, as my poor little brain is not only on overload, but suffers from memory loss; thanks to CML! Lol

After walking around the grounds for a bit, we headed into Windsor, for a short stroll around the town; it is darling! If I ever make it back to England, it is on my list of places to stay; smaller, quaint, and much more our speed!

We were able to visit one of the churches, up on the hill; it was not quite as elaborate as so many others that we have seen, but it did have something that the others did not; a BIG, fat rat! Just as we started walking up the center aisle of the church, towards the alter, I evidently disturbed the rat, and he ran along the wall, and behind a cupboard! I guess he was a "holy" rat, but I am not sure that I would want to be kneeling on any of the pews in that church.

It was lovely, nonetheless.

After leaving the church we took a short stroll, down the street and came upon a well; right there, in the middle of town. Of course it looked like a wishing well, so I had to make a wish.

As we continued our stroll, we came across an old fashioned candy shop. It was the cutest little shop ever, and the kids working in it plied us with many sample of licorice, after finding out that we shared an affinity for the candy. We  tried many different types of black licorice and ended up buying a bagful! They also had  my son's "special" flying saucers, so I picked up a few bags of those for him, too! Lol

Unfortunately, I was really beginning to hobble by this point, so we had to head back to the train, to head back home. As we were trucking along, we decided to hop off the underground at Knottinghill Gate to see if we could find someplace to eat; in true London fashion, we were not disappointed!

Right across the street was another English pub; The Swan. Joe had a lamb chop/shepherds pie and I had a lovely round of Camembert melted cheese with caramelized red onions, and yummy bread and veggies to eat it with. We have NOT been disappointed, in the food in Europe! Lol

I just LOVE  the fact that you can  jump off the underground, grab a bite to eat, and jump back on, it is just so easy.  On our walk back to the apartment, we stopped and got breakfast for the morning, and desert for the night. Gelato, cake, tarts, muffins, the list goes on and on and all I can say is Thank God, we are walking miles a day, or I would be rolling home!

And thank God for another fabulous day on our most blessed fairy-tale! And I am sure it is a fairy-tale; didn't I just spend the whole day in a castle?? Heck, the daggone queen lives right there! Lol

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