(Old) Windsor and London

(Originally posted on April 6, 2012)

On the 26th, I went to Windsor Castle with my friend, Anna. It was a lot of fun! Anna is from Denmark, so we spent a lot of time comparing notes on the different types of food and higher education in Denmark, England and the U.S. We also explored the castle, which is huge, including the chapel and royal apartments. There was a dollhouse as big as my dorm room, and a poorly designed picture exhibit for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. Then there were the rooms, which went on for a very, very long time. I was in love with the little armory and various weaponry around the other rooms. I was pleasantly surprised to run into the red dress portrait of Elizabeth I, which was one of my favorite paintings for a while. Outside, the castle had amazing views, and the weather was perfect. I think I might look into getting my own weekend retreat castle.

After exploring the grounds, Anna and I stopped in a touristy shop (where I bought a keep calm and carry on shirt—which, like the other one I have, ended up being too big) and then got tea. It was a great day trip.

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Last weekend, on the 21st, I went down to meet Erika and Stephen in London for the day. Their spring break had just started, and they were hitting off their vacationing with a long weekend in the city. They went into Westminster Abbey while I sat in St. Margaret’s Church writing postcards. Then we crossed the Thames and headed to the London Eye. On the way, we walked by some delicious smelling waffles, which Stephen decided would make a great late lunch.

We bought our tickets (plus tickets to the wax museum), then went into a 4D short movie that was sort of like a commercial for the London Eye. Stephen was afraid of the poorly animated seagull in the film, which amused Erika and I. The film itself wasn’t that amazing, but I thought it was kind of fun. Weird that they wanted people to watch it after they’d already bought tickets. I’m not exactly sure why they wanted to show it when they couldn’t sell us anything more.

Anyway, we waited in line for a bit and then hopped aboard. It was a lovely ride, though under cloudy skies. Erika accurately observed that London’s city gives off a reddish-tannish feel (I think she said something more elegant than that). The views were great, and it was fun to get pictures of Big Ben from above. Most of the skyline was covered in cranes, as the city prepares for the Olympic Games in another few months.

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We went back to the waffle place and got some warm, delicious waffles. We stood by the Thames eating them, which was a great experience. Erika and I decided that we would mark the moment in history by blogging about it, and someday when we (and Stephen, I guess) are famous the waffle place can put up a sign saying we were there.

Full of waffles, we set out to walk to St. Paul’s. It wasn’t a bad trek, with some nice views of the river and stuff. The cathedral itself was very cool. We wandered around with our audio guides for a while. At this point we weren’t going to make it to the wax museum before it closed (the tickets were good for 30 days, so it wasn’t a big deal), so we just took in the church. It’s quite beautiful. We nearly could have stayed for Evensong, but Erika and Stephen got kicked out. (By “kicked out” I mean they left through the crypt and weren’t allowed back in.)

I consulted Rick Steve and my other touristy book to find a good, cheap place to eat dinner. We wanted to try to catch Wicked, but neither Erika or I wanted to talk on the phone to the box office. Stephen heroically bit the bullet and called for us. It turned out the tickets in our price range were behind a big pole, so we opted out of that. However, the good/cheap eateries were mostly in the theater district, so we headed that way, with a quick stop-off to snap pictures at King’s Cross.

Found a nice place for dinner. Afterwards we explored a weird little mall that had a lot of anime shops. I purchased a ton of postcards and some TARDIS salt shakers. Then we parted ways, and I went back to Reading while they went to their hotel (or to explore some more—I’m not really sure).

So now it’s been two weeks since break started, and I’m still in Reading. At the moment, I’m the only one here that I know, alone with one or two housemates, both of whom are idiots who don’t clean up after themselves in the kitchen. (Who pours noodles down the sink and then doesn’t rinse the sink off? In what world is that an okay thing to do?) I’m about halfway done with both my huge essays, and am hoping to finish off 18th century tomorrow. (I’m already running out of space! Too many interesting quotes to talk about.) I also discovered a small, local coffee house in this old courtyard that reminds me of The Highwayman, where I’ve started going to write every day.

All in all, a quiet but restful period. However, I’m going to be very excited for Wales in another week, with real people who I can actually talk to!

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