Did I hear a lot about Windsor before I got on the train at London Waterloo? Yes and no. Yes, because I’ve seen many pictures of the Long Walk and Windsor Castle in the distance. No, because that is all I knew before I made my way over this town west of London.
Trains from London Waterloo Station to Windsor and Eton Riverside run every 30min and the journey itself only took about 50min. We passed the large and grim apartment buildings on our way out of Central London until we entered the greener areas in the outskirts. The airplanes constantly taking off from Heathrow Airport was the sole reminder that we had barely left London.
When the train entered Windsor, we were welcomed by the majestic view of Windsor Castle on our left. I could almost literally feel the sense of power and ‘royalness’ radiating from it. I got off the train and met my friend who took some time off from work to show me around.
Together we walked towards the castle, which to my surprise, is located right in the heart of the village. I expressed my amazement to my friend who replied wonderfully: ‘’where in the world can you find a McDonald’s that gives you such splendid views?’’ She phrased my thoughts exactly. We passed by Theatre Royal, restaurants and several shops before we arrived at the entrance to the castle. Queen Victoria was observing the town closely from her position on her plinth. It felt a bit like her eyes were following us.
Once inside the castle grounds, I had never expected it to be this beautiful. A maze of streets winded upwards, surrounded by high castle walls, towers and inner gardens. These gardens in particular were a treat for the eye, especially because the cherry blossom just started to pop up everywhere, and waterfalls dropped their water dramatically to the ground.
Even though the Queen was in today (the flag hanging proudly from the tower told us so), we were able to access most of the famous State Apartments. The art in the State Apartments illustrated clearly the changes that the monarch went through and the many different Royals that ruled the Nation throughout the years. The architecture and decoration of the Apartments were beautiful, and I couldn’t help to feel humble by all the splendor.
Another highlight of the castle is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest dolls house in the world. It was made for Queen Mary between 1921 and 1924, and resembles a fully furnished aristocratic home. I walked around the house for quite a while, trying to get in all the details, but it proved to be an undoable task. I noticed a library with teeny-tiny books, a theatre, a ballroom, and even a wine cellar.
Before I made my way back to town, I visited St George’s Chapel and watched a small-scale version of the Change of the Guard. This was another pleasant surprise, as I had missed the official one in the morning.
Then, it was time for me to explore Windsor and Eton. The twin towns breathe a historic vibe with the Thames running right between them. Windsor is the place where most of the shops, bars and restaurants are. The Guildhall that is located on the opposite side of the castle is where the civil wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles took place in 2005.
On my stroll through town I found many shops, pubs and restaurants. When I ended up at a park, I saw an adorable statue of Queen Elizabeth with her beloved corgis. A very ‘human-like’ representation of the Queen, who is mostly portrayed in such a more stately way.
When I crossed the bridge to Eton, I noticed that I had left most of the tourists behind me. Although Eton College is an extremely famous institution (Prince Harry and Prince William attended school here, to mention a few names), it did not attract that many visitors. I enjoyed myself walking through the main street with its many boutique shops and colored doors, and finally ended up at prestigious Eton College. Since it was Easter break there were no students present, but the building itself was worth the walk from Windsor to Eton.
Eventually it was time for me to return to London. I passed the bridge again and took the train back to London town. Windsor and Eton definitely exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and I can completely imagine why Queen Elizabeth loves to reside here. Note: all photos are mine.