London is overwhelming with sites to see already plus the nearby reachable by train places great for day drips; I had a very hard time finalizing our short 4.5 days itinerary since there are so much to see! While my brother and best friend landed on a day trip to Paris (we had been there few years ago) but they haven’t so they were desperate to take a pic with the Eiffel Tower to post on their social media to say “I am in Paris”. Not recommended by the way because Paris alone takes at least few days to see and enjoy the major sites. For those of you who are planning for a Paris trip can read my past trip reports and photos here: https://missvacation.wordpress.com/category/travel/europe/france/. My husband, my cousin, and I decided a day trip to Windsor Castle!
Early in the morning, we walked over to Chinatown in search for bakery to get buns for breakfast. Another major differences of London Chinatown – not much bakeries and they don’t open early! It was just 3 of us in Chinatown and trucks come and go to offload/delivery.
And quite chilly – we were there early September and the temperatures were in the low 60’s only!
No sight of breakfast so we walked over to another street where we found a cafe to get croissants. After the quick breakfast, we walked to Piccadilly Circus tube station to catch the tube to Paddington. Early in the morning, the bus were already up and running (there are even bus lines that are 24/7!)
The tube stations were very well lit and clean, unlike the ones in Boston!
I have to take a photo to show you how comfy they are: cushioned seats!
We arrived Paddington and got in queue to purchase the train ticket. I didn’t make any advanced ticket purchase online for this trip because it really depend on weather! I purchased the train plus castle admission ticket at the train station to save a few pounds, total for 3 of us was around $34 per person round trip train ticket plus castle. We walked to the displays to look for our train platform, we just missed the 9:50 train 🙁 Note that trains to Windsor requires a change in Slough so when you look at the display boards look for under calling at (meaning it’ll make stops at) Slough. Most of the trains making a stop at Slough goes to Oxford as final destination.
We got off at Slough, it’s a very small train station and the platform for the Windsor train is clearly marked:
Wonder what that strange but modern looking building is? Looks like a cafe!
We arrived Windsor at 10:56, there’s an old but very nice train display at the station:
Walk out of the train station, you’ll pass many shops as it’s a shopping area there!
Right after we got out of the train station, turn left and keep walking you can clearly see the walls of the castle!
The guards have an umbrella with them; that tells you rain is very common LOL!
We continued walking down to the visitor’s entrance but need to queue to exchange our train + castle ticket for the castle ticket! The queue for people who had purchased tickets (us) wasn’t long but the lady did took a long time processing each confirmation. Then, we had to go through security – x-ray. The changing of the guard starts at 11 on odd days; we were there on September 3rd so it’s an odd day (I did planned for this). The changing of the guard days change through the year so make sure you check the latest here: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle/what-to-see-and-do/the-changing-the-guard. After security, we ran to the Guard Room direction and heard drums already beating.
The front best spots were filled with tourists already and hard to squeeze in. Hubby took my camera and tried because he is taller while I took his camera and went to the sides.
Pics from hubby:
While on my side:
but I do get to see the new guards going into the Guard Room:
And the band came over to my side eventually:
And they also exit out this way too so if you can’t squeeze into the front, stay on the side near the exit gate!
There were people outside of the gate waiting for the guards too. It was nice to see the changing of the guard ceremony and how serious they took it. My cousin thought they were actors to “perform” this ceremony for visitors, I was laughed at her, they are real guards!!! Seeing the changing of the guards at Windsor was already crowded (only can see in here with ticket purchased) so I can not imagine what it’ll be like at Buckingham Palace, much larger scale and free to watch. Hubby and I don’t like crowded areas and no way we would stand there for hours before it begins for a prime viewing spot! I always have one question in mind….their hats look like they cover their eyes, how can they see? LOL!
After the ceremony, you can go up front with the guard for a picture but they quickly place a rope around it so you can’t get that close, I was too late 🙁 Oh well pictures with the architectures then!
The yellow cathedral on the left background is St George’s Chapel.
We went in and as expected, no photos allowed! You had no clue how itchy my hands were and how hard to control myself not sneak a few clicks here and there. Why why why no photos allowed??? It was absolutely magnificent inside! It was one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals I have ever seen! What makes it unique than Milan Cathedral or Notre Dame in Paris is that the ceiling is filled with colorful coat of arms and the columns with flags. I searched photos online so you have an idea…one of the colorful coat of arms on the ceiling:
I wish I can have a chance to photograph the inside of the chapel!!!
At the exit of the chapel, there’s a gift shop where we got a very nice doll ornament for souvenir. We got out and continued our way to the Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.
Along the way, the castle staffs were all dressed in cape, they reminded me of Harry Potter! I went up and asked if we can take a picture with her, she was friendly and I am sure we were not the only ones who have asked that!
Her cape was so cool!!!
Continued on our way…
No photos allowed inside too!!! When I was a little girl, I love those doll houses and always wanted a collection, it was like a girl’s fantasy world! It was unbelievable on how details of those miniatures are! I was hoping they sell a few souvenir pieces at the gift shop, NOT! It’s a must-visit to see it yourself to believe it!
We also visited the State Apartments, love the grand ballrooms with hanging chandeliers. Gosh, how I wish I can take photos of them! The postcards they sell at the souvenir shops don’t do them justice. Please hire me to take those postcard photos, I bet they will sell much better hahaha!
After the whole loop around the rooms, we got out and took more photos of the outer court.
This place here with some gardens but can’t enter…
Windsor stands out for me because of those grey colored bricks mixed with some yellow bricks and the shape of the castle. The cars parked there totally ruined the back in time feel!
Back to the chapel and the sun slowly came out to lit up the chapel:
Once exited the gate, we walked across the street to check out the souvenir shops.
There are some restaurants there too if you want to have lunch, speaking of lunch…I was starving!
The souvenir shops here are priced similar than the ones in London but we found the key chains here cheaper!
There’s also a another street filled with shop!
After some quite shopping, we headed back to London for our late lunch! We took the train back to Slough to change for the train back to Paddington. There are few platforms there so we looked at the displays for the next train.
Once we got back London, we walked to Chinatown for dim sum. I asked my cousin to search yelp on the train back to see which restaurant has good ratings and reasonably priced. We went to Joy King Lau. Each dim sum plate ranged from 2 to 5.50 pounds each….reasonable!
The dim sum in London is out of this world….10x better than Boston and can match the ones we had in Hawaii!!!
The shrimp and beef rice noodle wrap….love the taste of fresh shrimps!
Shrimp dumplings and chicken feet (I know it sound disgusting but it tasted very good):
Steamed spare ribs, beef balls, pork dumplings…
The fried custard buns OMG they are the best!!! The outer skin is crispy when you first bite it, it feels like you are biting a chip, it’s as crispy as that! Then, inside the soft creamy bun with custard fillings that floats out and melt in your mouth. It’s that good! This is the only dim sum place we ever see this dish – fried custard buns!
The absolutely blow our minds off dim sum was $58 for 3 of us, same price as Boston but 10x better dim sum!!!
After our very satisfying lunch, we walked through Chinatown to get back to our apartment and along the way…more food! This is “high tech” lol!
We got attracted by the making of the freshly baked fish shape bun and I went in to buy it was like 2 pounds for 4 I think?
It looked like fish shaped egg puffs but it doesn’t taste as good as egg puffs 🙁 We were fooled by its cute looking shape!
We also got some buns along the way for tomorrow’s breakfast…now the bakeries are open! We did got some rest before we headed back out again……this time we took the bus instead of the tube to experience the famous double decker bus!
The oyster card covers both the tube and bus and daily cap at £6.40, a single tube ride cost £2.30 so if you make more than 2 rides, it still max at £6.40 per day. If you don’t have an oyster card, a single ride by cash is already £4.80! Save money by getting an oyster card! On the tube, tap to enter the station and tap to leave so it calculates the zone you ride in for the fare price and for bus, it’s a fixed price so you only need to tap when enter!
Going up to the upper deck!
The best seats are the ones in the front of the upper deck but most likely to be occupied! I don’t get why people occupy those seats and nonstop playing on their phone instead of enjoying the panoramic view of the city? If you are only playing with your phone, why don’t you take a back seat and let others for the opportunity?
A window seat is still good….
We took the bus to St. Paul’s Cathedral for night photos of it on the Millennium Bridge…you see I brought my tripod along? 😀
St. Paul’s Cathedral!
A bus broke down….
We walked across the street to the bridge…
Right next to it is the City of London School:
No idea what this is but it’s fun!
‘On the bridge!
And many cranes….sort of a distraction of the image!
It wasn’t dark enough yet so we walked along the river bank…here you can see the bridge leading to the cathedral.
I heart London!
Just kidding, there are more steps to go down so he just pretending he’s falling into the river LOL.
The sun has set, very cloudy so no sunset 🙁
The cathedral and the bridge slowly lit up…I was a little disappointed by the lights on the cathedral..I thought it would be different colors 🙁
The views of the buildings from the bridge:
The Tower Bridge (people mistakenly call it the London Bridge) on the background!
We’ll be there for night photos on another night! We got a text message from my brother that they have made it safely back to London! My brother doesn’t have a good sense of direction so I got them map (I found my Paris map from few years ago LOL) and clear direction on which train and metro to take! We walked back to the cathedral to catch the next bus back to Piccadilly.
Got back to Piccadilly!
For dinner, we picked Beijing Dumplings where my brother and best friend have the a la carte for their soup dumplings while the three of us were craving for hot pot! Beijing Dumplings has unlimited hot pot for 20 pounds per person.We got there at like 9 and had to wait in line for a table for 5 of us. I like the lanterns lit up the restaurant and those wood tables and benches felt like a dinner on a back street.
We picked the food for hot pot and can “refill” later…
Delicious, we were so full!!! The hot pot for 3 of us plus the a la carte dished my brother and best friend ordered total to be $149.33 included 15% tips. Not bad for the amount of food we ate! Service was good too, every time we asked the waitress to refill the meats or more of this and that, she was totally cool with it. We had those unlimited hot pot places before where you can see the waitress gave you a face when you ask for refills after the 2nd time! The spicy hot pot warmed up my body; it was cold at the river bank!
Our 2nd day in London, we made a day trip to the Windsor Castle where we saw the changing of the guards and beautiful rooms that I can’t take photos of! Had a memorable lunch at Joy King Lau – the crispy fried custard buns are a must try! We had our first ride on the double decker bus with great views of the city and night photos of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the Millennium Bridge!
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