Since I spent a week doing stuff in London at the start of this trip I decided to spend several days doing day trips out of the city. Some places definitely worth visiting around that area of England, was quite nice to see a bit of the countryside and smaller towns.
I headed out to Windsor for a day to see the castle and walk around the town. After catching the train to Slough I opted to walk the rest of the way past Eton College and up to Windsor Castle. As you cross the bridge into Windsor you can see a couple of the towers up on the hill, looking just like a medieval castle. Luckily I arrived just as the changing of the guard was happening, which involved a marching band playing the new guard up through the street and into the castle. I waited about 45 minutes to get into the castle, which wasn’t too bad but I’d still recommend buying tickets online beforehand.
The interior of the castle complex is cool, with large stone towers and walls in every direction. The garden around the main tower is really well maintained and you can look down into it from up above. After walking along the North Terrace I entered the State Apartments, which is filled with all sorts of lavishly decorated rooms. Huge dining halls, bed chambers and drawing rooms are just some of the places you get to visit. Photos aren’t allowed inside, so sorry but no pictures of the interior or what happened while I was in there.
As I entered St George’s Hall a group of old looking cars drove up past the hall and then parked up outside the entrance to The Queen’s private residence. Everyone started to gather at the windows and after about ten minutes we got what we were waiting for. About fifty meters away from where I was standing The Queen exited her residence and walked down to the car, followed by Will, Kate and Prince Phillip (plus some others who I didn’t recognize). The crowd was very excited to see them, and it was actually another very lucky and neat experience to add to the many others I’ve already had on this trip.
On my second day back in London I stayed in the main city, hung around the Soho area for the morning. First stop of the day was Hamley’s, a huge toy store covering several floors. Throughout the whole store are staff members doing demonstrations of some of the toys. Probably my favorite one was the magic demo which was going on, lots of really cool tricks. From there I wandered down Regent Street and had a look through some of the cool shops around there before grabbing a box of curry for lunch from one of the street food stalls set up along a side street.
After lunch I headed over to Piccadilly Circus to meet up with Adam (whom I met in Rome), his brother and a friend of his from work. We went to a bar not far from there to watch the England vs Wales game, which England actually came from behind to win. We had a couple more drinks then raced through the underground to the Victoria Albert Theatre where there was a West End musical on called Wicked. I really enjoyed the show, which was basically a prequel and extension on the Wizard of Oz. Some really great songs (which I still have in my head two days on) and the set designs were well done as well. I’m really glad that I was able to go a proper show while I was in London, feels like one of the things that you need to do.
One morning I took a train down to Brighton, where I’d spend the day checking out the town and the beach. I arrived about 10am and spent a couple of hours looking around the cool hobby shops which I found in the town. Then after grabbing some lunch I walked down to the beach, it’s actually quite a big beach made out of red and orange pebbles. Don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before, I quite liked the change from the boring grey stones in Napier. I went out onto the Brighton Pier to check it out, the first building is an arcade filled mostly by those coin pushing games with all sorts of different themes. Past the arcade there are several food stalls and then an amusement park, unfortunately most of the rides were closed because of the heavy rain but it was still neat to walk through.
My next day trip was out to Cambridge, with my pounds quickly running out (that’s London for you) I didn’t have the money to go into Kings College Chapel or the Duxford War Museum (sorry Dad) so I spent the day walking around looking at the cool buildings, watching football in a pub and walking through the park on the edge of town. I only managed to see some of the University of Cambridge through fences since it was closed for exams, but it looked like a very prestigious place. With all of students dressed up and the historic buildings.
I caught the train back to London later that afternoon then went to the Westfield Mall down in Shepards Bush. It’s a really confusing place so I got completely lost but ended up finding an awesome Samsung area where they were showing off their new 360 degree camera and the Gear VRs. Spent a while having a look around there, my favorite part was definitely the virtual reality roller coaster which included chairs which moved to make you feel like you were actually on the ride.
The morning before I flew out of London, Melanie and I headed down to Brick Lane Market to grab some lunch and then do a bit of sightseeing. We finally managed to get to Brick Lane around 1pm after avoiding the closed underground lines. We walked through the market sampling all sorts of Chinese dishes, curries, brownies and chocolate covered fruit. But eventually we settled on a container of mixed Chinese stir fry, really yum. We ate that outside next to some cool graffiti then wandered on through the market, lots of cool little stalls and street musicians.
Next up we made our way from the market down to the Tower of London, didn’t have enough time or money to go inside so will save that for next time. It looks like a really big complex, we walked around one side to the Thames where the Tower Bridge is. It’s a hugely impressive structure, the two towers on each side were a lot bigger than I thought they were. As we walked along the bridge the middle part came up to let a yacht pass underneath. Finally we caught a train back, I packed up my stuff again to set off for my next flight and final stop of this trip. Really starting to hit me now that this is almost over.