Every time I go back to London, I really enjoy it more and more. There are so many different neighborhoods with completely different vibes. Just go from Canary Warf to Camden Town and you will think you are in completely different cities!
But, what’s really exciting, fun, and interesting, is getting out of the city completely and discovering what the Queen already knows–Windsor is a pretty cool place to hang out. She may not be roaming the streets like the rest of us, but that’s okay, it’s still a great experience.
We stayed in the Paddington area which is fairly quiet, full of posh-looking homes and has super easy access to many metro lines and regional trains. Grabbing a train to Windsor from there was simple and about 11 pounds a person roundtrip. While the ticket booths are available, there’s also usually a person alongside the booths with a portable ticket machine. You do nothing except say where you want to go and hand over your card. That person does the rest…and then it’s off we go!
You’ll have to stop at the Slough station and grab the direct train to Windsor from there. But it’s so quick that you probably wouldn’t even be able to finish a coffee!
Shopping at the Windsor station is an afternoon in itself, so if you have the self-control, keep walking and head into town where you’ll find some good ol’ fashion English charm.
Sometimes I’m more interested in walking around and seeing everything outside of what everyone else is there to see. I tend to go against the grain like that.
So…we didn’t go inside Windsor Castle! *Gasp*
I know. But it was a summer day and I’m not into crowds. Of course, I took some photos from the outside and walked around it. I mean, it IS cool to hang around a working palace!
If you want to see how current royalty lives then I highly suggest that you visit. A couple pieces of info for you if you do want to do the royal activities…
Changing of the guard is typically Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 11 am.
Regular price to enter the Windsor Castle is 20.50 pounds and you’ll definitely want to check opening times to make sure there aren’t any surprises…it is used for official functions.
As a commoner, it’s still interesting to hang around outside the castle. I really just wanted to have a picnic lunch in the spot right outside the wall. But after the photo, I saw that you aren’t supposed to sit on the grass. Oops! I’m just SUCH an unwitting rebel.
…and then we found this. Not even kidding, it was in a castle window. I just busted out laughing.
Getting more local
We meandered down streets with normal houses (for the non-Royals) and popped into various clothing shops that looked interesting. Somehow, I always end up shopping when I travel. This time, we met some super nice people in these shops and chatted it up a bit. They shared that the Queen usually hangs out in Windsor on the weekends and that they like living in the small community that is Windsor and Eton.
I love imagining what it would be like to live in a town like that. To go to the grocery store and walk past a castle. To say good morning to your neighbors as they walk their dog and pass by the colorful flowers. Find the hairdresser that would be your regular place to not only get a haircut but the local gossip as well. Really putting myself in the locals’ shoes is fun for me. Do you ever do this?
Inevitably, we always find a spot to people watch. We visited on a beautiful day filled with the sunshine and puffy clouds, so we watched over the water which was quite full of boats.
Keep walking all the way to Eton
We just went to Windsor on a whim so I didn’t look into at all. Sean knew that Eton was right next to it and was super cute as well. Walking down the main street gives you a view into village life. All the shops are right there with the Union Jack hanging above the street. Once you turn a bend in the road, you see it. The imposing structure of Eton College, mostly famous for its age and that they still wear uniforms, it’s a must-visit when in the area.
Back in the main town, it’s almost like a fairytale. Cobblestones, shop windows, Union Jacks, perfectly placed flowers, clean streets. I wonder what it was like to live there 200-300 years ago.
This is definitely one of those places that you don’t need an itinerary. Just walk and take it all in. If you travel back to London or another city in the same day, try to take some of the calming effect you get from Windsor and Eton with you.
This might be just me, but I’m sure some of you can relate…when I travel, I want to do it all and see it all and take all the photos. I rarely stuff to take it in. Sit down, look around. Feel the sun, wind or rain. Hear the sounds that surround you. Touch the old bridge. Smile and engage with the people around you.
Travel is not about just checking places off a list, it’s about the experience. Please don’t forget to experience wherever it is you go.
I do feel like this day-trip forced me to do that a bit. With so many quiet places and beautiful scenes, it was natural to sit and take it all in. Finishing the day with an easy stroll back to the train station was nice. There are so many trains that you really don’t have to worry too much about timing your pace.
Extending your travel outside of London
London is amazing and full of things to do. I doubt anyone will be able to do and see everything there! Still, sometimes it’s nice to get a different perspective of England and take a train (or even a plane!) to great spots around the country. Windsor and Eton are just the tip of the iceberg.
As we discover more and more of England and the rest of the United Kingdom, we’ll keep sharing it all with you!
Wishing you love and travels.
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