It crossed my mind on a few occasions to go and visit Windsor so when my friend suggested a trip I didn’t need much convincing. For a car-free person getting there required 3 changes (4 coming back, as expected on BH weekend there was a bus replacement from Liverpool Street station) which took around 3 hours, but the journey itself was dead easy. We both arrived on Friday afternoon and parted ways on Sunday afternoon…let me tell you, there is no need to stay there for more than one night, in fact there is no need to stay overnight at all. Windsor, although not a tiny place, isn’t that packed with attractions and visiting the Castle only takes 1.5 hour – admittedly, we ditched the audioguides and skipped an enormous queue for the Queen Mary’s Doll House. Other than the Castle, Eton, the Long Walk leading to Great Park, and an optional boat cruise on river Thames – only worth it for interesting commentary and a superb view of Windsor on the way back – there isn’t much else to do. Being a major tourist trap it is packed with tacky souvenir shops, fish & chips restaurants, ice cream parlours and it got very, very busy on Saturday. We even saw one hen party, which we thought wasn’t a kind of sight one would witness in Windsor!
As touristy is it may be, Windsor Castle is magnificent and formidable. I learned from the boat cruise commentary that the Anglo-Saxons did not know the concept of castles and fortifications…What would our world be like today if they had defeated the Norman Conquest ?
A lack of proper guide within the castle was a let down for me, and since I hate these old fashioned multimedia devices and apart from the state apartments there was very little written information, I felt like didn’t learn that much. I’m going to have to watch a documentary on Netflix or a video on You Tube instead…
The grounds were immaculate and the numbers of visitors were cleverly managed, with one way system inside. The state apartments were stunning, and to our delight we discovered several paintings by Van Dyck, Bruegel The Elder and other masters. Photography anywhere inside is strictly verboten.
We wondered if The Queen was looking at us little people from above?
Friday was cloudy and freezing cold but we ventured into Windsor and Eton regardless and marvelled at the beauty of the latter…Well, I was mostly impressed by quaint streets, fancy delicatessen, elegant tailor shops while my friend couldn’t take her eyes off Eton school boys 😀 We came back next day but they were nowhere to be seen.
We stayed in a terraced house Airbnb 10 min walk from The Long Walk Gate car park, which was convenient for us as we are both keen walkers, however it may be too much to endure for some. It rained too much on Sunday to explore the Great Park further – we only reached the George III statue and had a little picnic there. We decided against the hop on – hop off bus but then again, it could be a good way of getting to some places which are too far to walk – we tried to find some alternative paths off The Long Walk but everything is behind a fence, or a hedge and marked ‘private’.
There is a possibility to convert a £37 Windsor Castle ticket into a year pass. I did not bother, it’s a one-off for me but all in all we had a great time. Last but not least the Airbnb was lovely: easy check in, fully equipped, fast WIFI, smart TV with Netflix, You Tube and catch-up apps, all details taken care of and much nicer in real life than the photos seem to suggest.
I am getting more and more homesick living and working away from home but an opportunity to visit such places without having to travel hundreds of miles is priceless 🙂