After touring Central London for the past week, Steve (DOS) and I ventured out of the city on a pre-arranged Evans Tour for the Day. The tour was definitely a full day tour, and check-in began at 7:30am for our 8pm departure. As it was a mostly full tour, we’e glad we taxi’d over to the meeting point, as well as enjoy the service of one of London’s classy and clean comfortable cabs. Unique to London, the cab driver requirements and certification require approximately four hours of study and testing to get a commercial license. I had watched videos of some of the taxi drivers discussing their jobs on You Tube prior to coming to London, and I find it very interesting. Here is a link to an article I saw in Medium.com that discusses the London cab driver requirements if you are so interested in learning more about them.
The terminal where we were dropped off was quite busy at this early hour, and was a bit confusing at first, but we found our way over to Terminal Zero, and actually had a very short wait before boarding began at 7:45am.
We had an excellent guide and driver, and the lady leading the tour couldn’t haver been better; very personable, and truly tied to make sure everyone was having a great time, which we all did. The tour went from 8am until 7pm or so, but with arrival to the tour stop and then a taxi ride back to our hotel, The Churchill Hyatt Regency, it was easily a 12 hour day, but ironically not overtiring, perhaps because we weren’t walking as much as in Central London, and had generous breaks en-route to the 3 different attractions.
Our first stop was at Windsor Castle. The admission fee was extra, but it was included in our London Tour Pass, yet we (and most everyone else on the tour) declined to do the tour of the Castle as we only had about an hour and a half there, and our guide said you could easily spend a day there. She actually gave us a walking tour of the quant and Royal city which to us (and everyone else we talked to) was most enjoyable.
I had no idea what to expect going to Windsor Castle; I guess I figured it was a huge Castle out in the middle of thousands of acres with nothing around it but fields!. While we could view the Castle from way back behind the gates, and yes it is on acres of land, there is an entire town along the way up to the Castle, which provided us with a leisurely look at Windsor over coffee and danish at a local sidewalk cafe. Our guide told us the Ceremonial Guard March with music was at 10:45am, so we sat for awhile enjoying our coffee after the city tour, and waited with “front row seats” for the Guarded processional to pass us by. In all honesty it was much better than the skimpy performance we had seen a couple days earlier at Buckingham Palace, but I’m sure we only saw just a small portion of it with all of the detours there for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration. While waiting and later watching the processional pass us by, we chatted with a few members of our bus tour, including a couple and their inquisitive 10-looking son from North Carolina, and two brothers and a friend from Chicago that were getting ready to go to Graduate School.
I’m breaking up this post by individual gallery, so here is the gallery of photos I took at Windsor Castle, or at least the city of Windsor with a quick glimpse of the Castle. Again if you do go here, our guide said to book a full day tour, as it is so large and you don’t want to be rushed thru it.
After our stop at Windsor Castle, we had about an hour and 20 minutes journey onto our next stop: Stonehenge. It was a nice and long enough ride to catch a quick nap before arriving at this ancient wonder I’ve always wanted to see. There are lots of theories on how, why, and when it was built, but I’ll some it up with an article from Wikipedia if you want to explore further. Stonehenge is truly out in the middle of nowhere; a grassy field on hundreds of acres. We parked at the bus area, which is across from the field for self park cars, with the large visitor center between the parking lots.
Our tickets were included with the tour, and our guide told us that we had one of the shortest waits (actually zero wait) that she had seen, as we took a quick shuttle bus out to the Stonehenge “stones”. There was a walkway if you really wanted to walk to it, but why bother when there is a free shuttle and we were starting to develop “London Legs”; meaning our feet and knees were starting to get sore from so much walking this week!🤣
The whole Stonehenge experience was quite orderly and easy to do, even with our bus and several others. When you look at the photos, it looks like we were the only people there, that is until you step back a bit and take a wide angle view of all the tourists looking on from a distance. We (and everyone else) took lots of photos, selfies, and camera swaps for photo opportunities, and we stayed at the stone for maybe 20 minutes before taking the bus back to the visitor center.
Back at the visitor center we browsed thru the gift shop (yes we got a Stonehenge Hat!) and had a quick look at some of the outdoor exhibits there such as re-creations of the people’s homes that might have worked on Stonehenge, and the huge “stone pull” which was a rope attached to a huge slate of rock sitting atop some tree logs to make pulling it easier. Well, this was just that – a photo op! There is a plaque there that says it normally took 99 men to move the massive boulder back in the day! Oh well, I tried!🤣
While we were at Stonehenge, we did get a bite to eat at the nice and clean (and large) cafe there. Here is a gallery of our excursion to Stonehenge.
We were then on our way for another hour and a half drive to the famous University City of Oxford. DOS and I really enjoy watching the British TV show Endeavor, which takes place in Oxford, and we were exited to see it, even if we were only there and hour and a half. The University of Oxford is the oldest English-Speaking school in the world, dating back to its founding in 1096. There are 38 colleges which comprise the campuses of Oxford, and the admission standards and prestige rank this as one of, if not, the most prestigious University in the world. DOS and I would love to go back and stay for a couple day and experience the city, pubs, and watch the every day University life on display.
We had to settle for getting admitted to a book and apparel shop at Oxford where we purchased, you guessed it, and Oxford Cap!
As we had a nearly two hour or more ride back to London during rush hour traffic, we departed Oxford around 5pm for our day trip back. As it was still daylight the whole drive back, people were still looking out the window and chatty, although we did take a short nap before arriving back to the drop off point in London.
We really had a fun-filled and fantastic day, and I’m glad we waited until late in the week (Friday) to tour outside the city of London, as it made for a bit more relaxing day, and two we passed some of the sites leaving the city we had already seen, and others we hadn’t and saw where they were located. I’ll end this post with a gallery of our short excursion to Oxford.