We have been back from England for a couple of days now. It has taken a thorough recovery from the 5 days of intensive walking in non-supportive shoes. For the third morning in a row, I have woken up on my own before 8:00am, which I guess is a good habit to start. Today, I am sitting at my kitchen table, drinking newly purchased English Breakfast Tea out of my newly purchased William and Kate Royal Wedding Commemorative Mug and reminiscing with SHM about our fabulous trip.
The trip began with a very easy flight, direct, to Heathrow, with a car picking us up. Everything was arranged by our fabulous host, Brigitte, who booked us dinners, researched trains, and did any other leg work we needed. We arrived in London and were shuttled to Pablo's (Brigitte's paramour) house in Fulham, a section of London equivalent to Brookline. The scenery throughout London is much like what we see on TV. It was so realistic, that it almost looked like a caricature of itself. Skinny little streets packed with brick or stone row houses and little biddy cars. I was assured that all roads are two-way, but I really don't see how that's possible.
For our first dinner in London we went to a swanky little place around the corner from Pablo's called the Sands End, confirmed to be a watering hole of Prince Harry, but no sightings today (in fact, no sightings at all of any members of the royal family. Very disappointing). This spot proved to be quite lively. It was so loud that it was easier to observe other patrons than to talk to each other. At one point we were all trying to speak, when what appeared to be a ball of fire came flying in, through SHM's hair, and landed on the table. It was a lit match, catapulted by a bloke at the table next to us, who was quite inebriated, but still quite stunned (and I think a little proud) that it had made it all the way to our table. He apologized profusely, and SHM, and his hair, remained nicely intact.
Sunday morning we arose bright and early and set out to Stonehenge. Pablo graciously drove us. The weather started out pouring rain, but cleared quickly, and we luckily saw no more rain the rest of our trip. Stonehenge is literally in the middle of rolling fields, although back in the day, it would have been in the middle of a forest. You can see it quite early from the road, and from that large distance, it looks a bit small with a thin line of people who look like ants circling like satellites in orbit. We arrived and received a free audio tour. Up close, the stones are really something. Gigantic and looming, and we find out there is at least 10 feet worth of stone underground. Incredible! We learned about the construction, about the design, theories as to what it was used for, but two questions remain unanswered: WHY? and by WHO? Very mysterious and intriguing.
From Stonehenge, we continue our road trip to Windsor Castle, royal residence when the Queen is on holiday from Buckingham Palace. The Castle was built after William the Conqueror invaded around 1066, and is the birth place of many monarchs as early as Edward III in 1312. The grounds and the interior are all incredible. Despite quite a devastating fire in 1992, the Castle has been kept in amazing condition (and was renovated after the fire using Medieval techniques to keep authenticity). The slight disappointment was the fact that we couldn't go into St. George's Chapel as it was closed for Sunday worship. Inside is the tomb of Henry VIII and his favorite wife Queen Jane Seymour.
It was a packed first day, and Brigitte and Pablo were wonderful tour guides. The next day begins our adventures as we navigate Central London on our own.