London - the Penultimate Chapter

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 9:35 PM

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I just like that word. You could say "second to last", but why on earth would you do that when you've got "penultimate" at your disposal?

For David's "day", we took a quick train ride to Windsor Castle, which is the oldest continuously inhabited royal residence in the world. The oldest sections are nearly 1,000 years old.




I love old things.



We got the in the nick of time for the Changing of the Guard, which happens each day at 11 am. I don't know the significance exactly. Lots of marching and trombones, though:



I got my picture take with the most ferocious of the guards (actually, just the last one left after their big choreographed maneuver). I looked all over London for just the right furry hat, and then I show up here and this guy totally outdoes me:



My favorite part was St. George's Chapel, which was built in the 15th century and had just the most spectacular architecture. You're not supposed to take pictures inside most of these places, but I managed to get a couple of shots of the *amazing* ceiling:





This chapel is the ceremonial home of the Order of the Garter, which is the oldest British Order of Chivalry. Membership in this order is limited to 25 persons, including the Prince of Wales. It's a pretty swanky setup. The medallions on the ceiling are the crests of various noblemen who have played important roles in the history of the building. The chapel also is the final resting place of the bodies of Henry VIII, one of his wives, and Queen Elizabeth II's mother, father, and sister.

Apparently this is the Norman Gate. I don't remember why I took a picture, but it's pretty sweet anyway:



We were also able to tour the State Apartments, which is where the actual royal residents live and "work" when they are at Windsor. They were spectacular, although again we were not allowed to take pictures. There was a terrible fire at the Castle in the apartments almost 20 years ago, and a lot of the tour focused on how things were put right again after that event. In one room, there is a very elaborate inlaid wood floor that was damaged in the fire, and they were able to preserve the original material by removing each individual plank, flipping it over, and putting it right back down!



Windsor was also the site of my favorite souvenir acquisition: a gorgeous merino scarf which I was able to buy thanks to the kind heart of one of the guards, who let me sneak back in to the gift shop after the grounds were closed. He winked, made me promise "not to deviate", and every time I wear my scarf I think of him!

Scary picture, pretty scarf:



We developed quite a taste for English candy on this trip - our favorites were lemon bonbons (well, all bonbons really). We went in to get some candy "for the kids" and I have to confess we spent many hours and many of our hard earned pounds sterling in establishments very similar to this one!



That evening was New Year's Eve, and we decided we'd be adventurous for once and have the full experience! We met up with Chris and Daniel on the bank of the Thames to watch the annual fireworks display. It wasn't nearly as crowded or chaotic as I had feared, and I was so glad we went!

The crowd waiting for the show to start (with the huge ferris wheel, the London Eye, lit with blue lights in the background):



My sister and my mom (doesn't she look happy?) My dad is behind her, wearing his universally beloved "stegosaurus hat":



Me and David (and my scarf):



Chris and Daniel:



The fireworks!



Which this enterprising fellow decided to watch from a tree. Whatever, I'm just glad he was sober enough to keep his footing:



We came back to our flat and called our kids back home, for whom it was not yet 2011. Then we slept for approximately 4 hours and got up to do it all again the next day! Come back tomorrow for our Beatles walking tour and Sweeney Todd geekery. Yessssssssss.

Comments (3)

Looks like an amazing trip!

Penultimate? Proof that if I keep my eyes and ears open, I can learn something new every day!

Wasn't it wonderful?! I could relive this everyday and it wouldn't get old. Such a spectacular memory with such fabulous people!!