[NOTE: I apologize if the post has been empty for the past few days. While I write my contents daily, I need to edit photos taken from each respective day. I've been extremely busy for the past few days due to meeting up with some people and preparing to move away from London to Cambridge. I hope you will understand, and I really appreciate your presence here as a reader.]
Today's Windsor Castle trip began a little later than I expected (it seems like I've been waking up later and. later each day). The train ride was a pain in the butt. I first had to take the tube to the London Bridge station, then transfer a line to get to Waterloo station. From there, I had to embark on an hour journey to Windsor station on the National Rail service. During this train ride, I decided to use this chance to give myself more time to sleep, thus not paying full attention to the sceneries outside. (Later, however, during the return trip, I would be more awake.) Also, of course I brought my Snapchat Spectacles with me.
When I arrived at Windsor station, I noticed that there were actually many more tourists onboard the train than what I initially saw. Wanting to conserve my phone battery charge, I closed Google Maps and followed the crowd of people walking towards a single direction. Sure enough, I soon saw the tall walls of the Castle. It was like a scene in a fantasy movie, where the walls of a castle slowly become revealed as one approaches. At first, the Castle seemed to be a "normal"-sized castle, one where you would expect a very large mansion to look like. After all, this is the home of Queen Elizabeth II during when summer when she's not staying in Buckingham Palace.
The ticket line was very long as expected. In the visitor's center, there was a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. When I went up to the counter to purchase my ticket, the clerk recognized my Snapchat Spectacles. As I walked down past the ticket booth, there was a photography of all of the Queen's children and grandchildren.
There was no need for a map. There was a free audio tour service which guided every user appropriately. In addition, the Castle was not that terribly huge in terms of amount of area covered. There, I learned about the Castle's architectural integrity meant to be a fortress guarding the center palace, where the royal family would reside. At first, I went through Queen Mary's Dolls' House, which showed many glass and marble miniature carvings of houses, historical and Biblical settings, as well as tiny articles of clothing for actual dolls. The hallway led to the State Apartments, a series of hugely decorated rooms where the Queen and the royal family would entertain guests and hold official meetings and banquets. (No photography was allowed in either the Dolls' House and State Apartments.)
The State Apartments were marvelous rooms filled with riches and royalty. It was of no doubt that these rooms were kept so clean, tidy, and polished for almost a millennium. While one would expect the rooms to be decorated heavily with purple, the color associated with the royalty, the rooms were almost all decorated with red. The lobby of the State Apartments were filled with displays of sets of armor, weapons, and a myriad of fabulously expensive foreign gifts bestowed to the British monarchs, many of which were given to Queen Victoria (not surprisingly). The audio tour provided an in-depth description of the history of each room, most astonishing of which were St. George's Hall and the Grand Reception Room, the latter of which is still used today for state reception banquets. St. George's Hall was filled of portraits of important men in history, including a few past kings, the Duke of Wellington, a few generals of Prussia, a Chinese Christian convert, etc. The Grand Reception Room was a long (very long) hall lined with knights' armor sets on both sides. The roof was decorated with numerous shields of knights. Adjacent to this room was a small chapel in which the fire of 1995 started. The Grand Reception Room was completely burned down and renovated.
I also went inside the majestic St. George's Chapel. I was thoroughly amazed by the Chapel's beautiful architecture, especially that of the roof. The columns rose from the floor and seemingly blossomed like flowers on the roof. It is a bit difficult to describe; one must see the Chapel in person in order to fully appreciate its architectural beauty. I also saw graves of past monarchs and royal members in the Chapel on the floor, each marked by a huge black slab of marble with his or her name, year of living, and message engraved. As a superstitious person, I tried my best to avoid stepping on some of the graves, but some of them were simply too big to avoid. There was also a haunting marble carving dedicated to Princess Charlotte's death in 1817. It showed the body of Princess Charlotte covered in a sheet, with two completely cloaked mourners around her. However, at the center, the spirit of Princess Charlotte rises towards the sky, with an angel carrying her stillborn baby. Unfortunately, again, no photography was allowed in the entire premise of the Chapel. (The Semi-State Rooms are closed for the summer. The Windsor Castle Changing of the Guard was on another date.)
After exploring Windsor Castle, I went back to London to meet up with a mutual friend. Her name is Xiaxia, and she went to high school with my friend at Berkeley. She's here for an internship program along with some of other students from her university in Virginia. She studies communications. We met around 6:30pm at the London Eye Pier, and we went to Nando's for dinner. Many people, including my Airbnb host Susan, have urged me to try Nando's. It's basically grilled chicken, but I guess it was pretty good. It was definitely a bit overpriced for my taste.
I came about 11pm, and I am writing this sentence at exactly 11:57pm. Glad that I met my deadline for today!