Our third full day in London also meant our third planned day trip on this three-week vacation (how’s that for doing things in threes? :)). This one included stops in Windsor, Stonehenge, and Oxford and was again scheduled through Viator. Unfortunately, it involved another early start (not the end of the world, but something you should always keep in mind when planning day trips, especially if you aren’t normally an early riser), but, as usual, we made it.
We started the day in Windsor, which ended up being a bit of a bust. Our plan was to visit Windsor Castle while we were there because that’s what the majority of the tour group was doing and we wanted to see it anyway. We thought we could use our London Pass to get in for free because it’s an included attraction in the pass, but when we took our cards there, they told us they were expired. Travel tip – make sure you understand how these passes work before you use them for the first time! The way it was explained to us, the pass was good for two days from when it was first scanned (which for us was around 230p on Tuesday). The girl at the London Pass kiosk made it sound like those two days meant 48 hours, but it actually meant calendar days, so our pass was good for the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday and that was it. We opted not to pay the £17.75 to get in and decided to just walk around and see some of Windsor on our own, which was nice. We also got the chance to eat, which worked out well because this particular day trip didn’t have a specific lunch time carved out. I wish Scott had been able to see the castle (I was there once several years ago), but we still ended up having a nice time. Windsor is certainly worth visiting and the castle is pretty amazing (it’s the longest-occupied castle residence in the world), so I recommend visiting it.
Onwards to Stonehenge! What can I say about Stonehenge? Basically, it’s a bunch of rocks. But it’s a cool bunch of rocks, so you should definitely make it there at some point in your travels. Although the rain held off in Windsor (we even had some sun there!), it didn’t in Stonehenge – it was overcast, drizzly, and windy. Remember that Stonehenge is on a plain, so there’s nothing to break the wind while you’re walking around it. Despite the icky weather, it was great to see, especially since I had only ever seen it briefly once before on my first trip to the UK over ten years ago. And on that trip, we didn’t stop to see it – we just drove by. An audio guide is included with the entry price here (£8 as of Sep 2013) and, although I think it was a bit too long and wordy in places, it was still useful. They’re actually working on building a new, state-of-the-art visitor’s center for Stonehenge that’s supposed to be open by next year, so be on the lookout for that when you visit. They’re going to remove the current parking lot and other buildings in favor of just using the new space they’re building. Apparently, there will even be a small train to take you from the visitor’s center to the stones, which will drastically reduce the vibrations from cars that could potentially damage the stones.
Our last stop was in Oxford, where the weather decided to get a bit nicer for us (thankfully). We had a little over an hour here, most of which was spent on a short walking tour of the town (again, that was optional). Oxford is of course famous for the University of Oxford and our guide did a pretty good job of pointing out some of the many buildings of the university. We had about 20 minutes to wander around on our own after that before we got back on the bus to return to London. That didn’t allow us to wander far, but I was able to pop into the local HMV to buy the latest Doctor Who DVD, so I was happy. 🙂
Onto the pictures!
The Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford
The Radcliffe Camera, which houses reading rooms for the Bodleian Libray
The Sheldonian Theatre, which is where graduation ceremonies for the University of Oxford are held
We actually did a bit of wandering around London when we got back from our day trip, since it was starting to get dark out and London is a cool city to see in the evening. We stopped by Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square for some photo ops and then stopped by a Chipotle-like restaurant for a quick dinner (it was actually super tasty – I recommend them!). Here are a couple of those photos:
Me in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square
And now, it’s time for our last full day in London and our last full day on this vacation. I can’t believe three weeks has gone by that quickly! Well, almost three weeks. We’re planning on doing some more walking around London today to take in some of the city views. Although it isn’t very sunny, there’s no rain for the moment, so hopefully that will continue for the rest of the day (or at least for as long as we’re wandering around). Cross your fingers!