Main Gate – Windsor Castle
Queen Victoria Statue – Windsor
Changing of the Guard – Windsor Castle
Royal Lamppost – WIndsor Castle
The Queen’s Standard
Windsor Castle 2
Chesterfield Hotel Tea Room
We visited Windsor Castle on a rainy day. While the weather did not cooperate for all of the pictures I would have liked to have made, we still enjoyed touring the castle grounds, viewing the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. Windsor Castle is nestled in a small village with many pubs and shops, but the castle complex is a city unto itself. The Queen was in residence as evidenced by her standard flying above the castle. The ancient castle’s interiors rival Versailles with golden decorations and ancient tapestries, but it a living, working building.
After we returned to London, we decided it was a perfect day for a hot cup of tea. We had a traditional English Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Hotel complete with sandwiches, scones, sweets and a perfect cup of tea.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome
Beefeater Sheep Statue
Tower – Private Residence
Kew Gardens – Lake
Water Lilies 2
We took a walking tour of the small area known as the City of London. We toured St. Paul’s Cathedral. While we were not allowed to take pictures inside, the exterior of the cathedral was impressive.
There was an exhibition of sheep statues all over London decorated like British characters that were whimsical and colorful. The ancient and modern stand side-by-side in London. The small tower in the middle of the business district is a relic of days gone by and is now a private residence. We also learned about the political structure of the City of London and the seat of government for the area – Guild Hall.
In the afternoon, we took a trip out to Kew Gardens. In a small village outside London, Kew Gardens is a huge area with many different types of gardens and hot houses. It was truly beautiful and a welcome change from the fast paced life in London.
The Tower of London
Beefeater explaining Opening Ceremony at The Tower
Opening Ceremony – The Tower – with Gurka Guard from Nepal
Traitors Gate – The Tower
The Tower – Home of the Crown Jewels
Execution Site at The Tower
Kings Bedchamber – White Tower – The Tower
King’s Private Chapel – White Tower – The Tower
Throne Room – White Tower – The Tower
Battlements at The Tower
Cleopatra’s Needle beside the Thames River
Ben Ben and Parliament from the Thames
Lord Nelson Staircase – Sommerset House
Guiding at Somerset House
Our day of touring began early. We had a lovely view of Tower Bridge and were then ushered into the Tower of London to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Tower with a Beefeater for our guide. The guards on duty for the day were a group of Gurka soldiers from Nepal. We stood beside Traitor’s Gate where prisoners were brought into the Tower for incarceration via boat. The Tower is a large complex that began in the middle ages as a palace for the king. It houses the Crown Jewels and many other royal items. From The Tower, we traveled by boat up the Thames to Westminster Abbey. We saw the graves of many ancient royalty plus Chaucer, Handel, Dickens, and Darwin. The interior of the Abbey is truly beautiful and not to be missed on a trip to London. We finished our day with a traditional Indian meal and a walk through Somerset House with a view of the Lord Nelson staircase.
Washington Mayfair Hotel
Royal Vintner’s Shop
Proof of Texas Consulate
Royal Horses in Training
Band Escort for Changing of the Guard
Band Escort for Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guards – Buckingham
Royal Mounted Guard
Royal Mounted Guard
Our Guide Celebrates the Royal Birth
Gate near Buckingham Palace
St. James Park
Churchill War Rooms-Entrance
Photograph of Churchill
Radio Operator in Churchill War Rooms
Communications in Churchill War Rooms
Our tour of London began at the Washington Mayfair Hotel – our home base during our stay. We visited Covent Garden where we enjoyed a traditional roast dinner for our first group meal. The meal was delicious and the company delightful. Our first official tour day began with a walk toward St. James Palace. We stopped on the street to view Spencer House, the place Chopin lived in London and Her Majesty’s Vintner shop. We saw a plaque regarding the representation of the “Republic of Texas” as a separate country.
We walked through Green Park toward Buckingham Palace and witnessed several teams of horses training for their duties as well as the changing of the guard processional from St. James Palace to Buckingham Palace with band escort. We also witnessed some of the mounted guard riding up “The Mile.” Buckingham Palace is truly grand. Our guide Tom was sure to encourage us to celebrate the birth of the new Royal Princess with a tin of cookies.
We finished our first day with a visit to the Churchill War Rooms where Churchill directed the war effort during WWII. The War Rooms were created far underground to protect government officials during the Blitz.
English Countryside from Plane
Holy Trinity Church on the Avon River
Holy Trinity Church
Entrance to Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church
Graveyard at Holy Trinity Church
Dr. John Hall House-Stratford
Birthplace of Shakespeare
Les Miserables Marquee
Ceiling of Queen Theater
Nightlife in London
Our adventure in London began with an overnight flight from Atlanta to London. Flying in over the English countryside was a beautiful sight with the rolling green hills and colorful farmland.
We adjusted to the new time zone and then headed off to Stratford-upon-Avon for our Shakespeare pilgrimage. We took a train from Marylebone Station and found the train service as excellent and timely as we had heard. There were numerous little stations along the way with beautiful villages and grazing land for sheep and cattle. Ancient churches stood along more modern apartments and shops reminding us of the long history of this area. Arriving in Stratford, we joined a local walking tour and were able to experience the sights with historical information and hilarious stories of life in 16th century England. The Avon River is truly tranquil and beautiful with its famous swans gracing the waters. Holy Trinity Church has stood on its present site since 713 A.D. Started as a Saxon monastery and then converted to the local church in 1210 A.D., it was the center of town life for centuries. The beautiful church has wonderful stonework and a weeping chancellory that bends off of the knave of the church symbolizing the head of Christ on the cross bending to one side. Shakespeare’s birth and death are listed in its records and his tomb is in the chancellory. His tomb carries its own curse warning against digging up his bones, a common practice in olden times so that the space in the church could be sold again for another burial. The bust of Shakespeare above his grave was placed in the church only seven years after his death and is believed to be a good likeness. The churchyard houses a beautiful and ancient graveyard. The town of Stratford has many historical houses of the Shakespeare family. Wisteria covers the house of Dr. John Hall, husband of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna. The simple house that was the birthplace of William Shakespeare also housed his father’s glove making shop.
After taking tea in Stratford, we boarded the train back to London in time to attend “Les Miserables” at the Queen’s Theater. The theater was wonderful with ornate golden carvings and a beautiful ceiling. The musical was fabulous with live music in the pit. Our evening ended with a bicycle rickshaw ride through the theater district experiencing the sights and sound of nightlife in London.
We are so excited to head out on a new adventure. Traveling light, as evidenced by the luggage in the picture, we are off to London and Paris. Keep checking this blog for pictures and stories of our trip.
Place D’Armes Hotel – St. Ann Street
Louis Armstrong Statue
St. Louis Cemetery 1
St. Louis Cemetery 1 – Street
Near Jackson Square
Jackson Square Musicians with Jeff
We were fortunate to have stayed at the Place D’Armes Hotel right off Jackson Square. The location made getting around the French Quarter very easy. Our final day in New Orleans included a tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1 with a Voodoo Priestess as our guide. It was most interesting hearing the history of the cemetery and the stories of those buried there. We also visited Louis Armstrong Park for some fresh perspectives on Armstrong’s contributions to New Orleans and music in general. We learned about Chief Tootie who was instrumental in changing the violent nature of Mardi Gras to one of pageantry and competition. The statue of the “2nd Line” celebrates the tradition of the New Orleans Jazz funeral procession. The “2nd Line follows the mourners to the funeral playing somber music and leaves the funeral playing music in celebration of the deceased’s life. The scenery in New Orleans is beautiful and there is always music in the square provided by excellent musicians. In New Orleans, the food is fabulous, the people are kind and the music is wonderful. We will definitely visit again.
French Quarter – New Orleans
St. Louis Cathedral
French Quarter Street Clarinetist
Cafe du Monde
The last leg of our Road Trip has brought us to “the Big Easy – New Orleans.” We are staying in the heart of the French Quarter and enjoying the uniqueness of this living historical area. The views of Jackson Square, the wrought iron balconies and the music coming from every corner make exploring the city a delight. Every visit to the French Quarter must
include a visit to Cafe du Monde for beignets. Yum!
Our last day in San Antonio started with an early morning Riverwalk tour by boat. The beautiful scenes around every bend in the river were only enhanced by the early 20th century architecture of the buildings along the river – some even had modern gargoyles. In the afternoon we visited four missions south of the city. Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose were fairly well preserved and offered an interesting view into 18th century mission life.
Our first day of touring in San Antonio provided us with a view of history, hidden gems, and peaceful waters. The Alamo sits in the middle of the tourist district and is the remains of the mission where the historic siege took place. Some of the buildings have been preserved and the grounds are an oasis of gnarled trees and blooming cactus. A few blocks from the Alamo is a quaint little village, La Villita. The historic buildings have been preserved and reclaimed as an artists’ community with galleries and cafes. There are little joys around every corner on the Riverwalk. The open air theater would be a lovely venue for a concert or play. Even the stairways from the river to street level are carefully preserved and beautiful. Tomorrow we take a tour on one of the Riverwalk tour boats.