Windsor & St. Paul’s

One of the great things about travel blogging is that is allows you to preserve all your memories as they happen.  It’s amazing how quickly the little details can fade after 2 weeks back at home.  However, we were so busy there it was hard to keep up!!!

I posted already about Serena, Celina, Harpreet and Simran’s day trip to Stratford to spend time with Shakespeare.  Well, while they were out in the county, the remaining 14 of us headed to the Queen’s house – Windsor Castle.  We took the train from Paddington Station to Slough, where we changed over to a smaller train that went directly to Windsor and parked itself an the foot of the hill next to the Castle.

We walked up the hill to check in and go through security.  It’s amazing really that they let people into the building.  I went through way more security to visit the Statue of Liberty and National Archives that I did visiting the Queen’s house.  And she was there.  She was IN THE BUILDING.  But they just let us inside – wandering around historic rooms, past creepy doll houses and halls filled with expensive China.  Ancient tables and long royal banquet halls with the crests of many knights hanging from the ceiling.  The tour through Windsor was done via an included audio guide – allowing students and teachers to go as fast (or slow) as they’d like.  The Queen’s guards marched up the down the street from time to time, or stood post without averting their gaze.  Though at one point, a second guard came out to visit the first, took a selfie of the two of them together, and then continued on his merry way.  That was pretty outstanding.  St. George’s Chapel was beautiful and historical, though interesting to observe the marriage of church and state in this way all throughout England (a constant battle in many countries).  The stone walls of the property were beautiful, but mostly I loved the perfectly manicured laws.  I wanted a cup of tea, a good novel and to set myself up in a chair next to the purple and yellow flowers and let the day pass away.  The beautiful blue skies only made this seem more and more appealing.  I was left wondering if the Queen ever really gets to spend time out on these beautifully manicured lawns.  I mean, there were hundreds of people wandering through her house and property. When does she just get to go for a stroll?

Windsor Castle
More Windsor Castle
View of St. George’s Chapel (left) and some of the Castle Buildings (right).  Main castle at the end of the road here.
St. George’s Chapel
Group in front of the Castle, Me and the Guard, a group of marching guards, and Mr. Dewinetz reading about football on the train to Windsor.

After our time in Windsor we had some lunch before taking the train back to Paddington Station (yes, home of Paddington bear).  We then headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  This was where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were wed back in 1981, and of course is a beautiful piece of architecture designed by Christopher Wren.  They were preparing to practice an installation of a new Bishop, so things were slowly quieting down and the students were allowed to sit and watch.  But first we climbed the dome.  It was just under 300 stairs to the Whispering Gallery, a thin walk way with stone benches around the base of the dome.  This was as far as I got – I wasn’t willing to embrace the claustrophobia that came with the next 250 steps to the very top.  But the rest of the group did – climbing the narrow passage ways until they reached the fresh air and beautiful views (you should see the panorama below in full size – outstanding photo by Mr. Becker).  Such a wonderful view of the city!  We stayed at St. Paul’s until 4pm, when they were closing.  This was a great time to head home and think about dinner.  The plan was to hit a chippy for English Fish & Chips.  And after the 10-15 minute walk to the one we scouted out we found it was closed (I blame the website….?)  So we wandered back towards the mall and compromised on a place called Bill’s – that had a little something for everyone.  After dinner, Janey, Shelby and I ran off to see Once (see post here) and the rest of the group enjoyed a mellow (and well earned) night in.  As I have come to learn, this meant a lot of face timing, parties in Harleen and Simran’s room, and playing MarioKart.  London life is good.

Our group in Paddington Station with the Paddington Bear Statue.
St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Shelby and Janey at the top, and the group doing “the Garr” on the front steps.
Panorama from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Download and view full size here

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