We had day 6 all planned out for us as we were booked for a day tour with the Golden Tours company. We walked to the Russell Hotel, which was one of the hotel pick up points for the tour. From there, the bus dropped us off at the departure point where we met our guide, Tish and we changed over to a big air-conditioned coach.
The trip out of London to Windsor Castle took about 1 and a half hours. It passed by fairly quickly with Tish providing some commentary on our surroundings.
Arriving at Windsor, Tish popped out a distinctive bright yellow umbrella for us to follow and it was a mad rush to get to the castle to beat the other tour groups to the queue. We only had about an hour to spend at the castle after passing through the long and slow ticket and bag check queues.
After collecting our audio tour aid, our first stop was Queen Mary’s dollhouse. The dollhouse was given as a gift to the monarch and the work on it was intricately detailed, complete with flushable toilets and readable miniature books in the library.
We also took a gander at the magnificent State Apartments. The rooms were quite extravagant as some of them were still being used by the royal family for hosting public ceremonies and events. One of the corridors even had a hidden door for servant access to rooms. Unfortunately photography was prohibited, but the visit provided a bit of an insight into the grandiosity of the royal life.
At this point, crowds were gathering for the changing of the guard, a ceremony where the new guard marches in to replace the old guard, accompanied by a marching band. People milled around the lawn outside St George’s Chapel, waiting for the new guards to march in.
The ceremony lasted a few minutes with the guards performing a few manoeuvres on command and marching to the tune of bagpipes and drums.
After that, we headed into the nearby St George’s Chapel, which holds the tombs of several historically significant figures including monarchs such as King Henry VIII.
It was time to head back to the coach and upon boarding we were handed our lunch of a vegetable sub, a bottle of water, a chocolate chip cookie and a packet of chips – enough to sustain us for the rest of the journey.
The journey to Bath was fairly long, taking about 2 hours. The town is quite picturesque, with its Georgian-style buildings made from local Bath stone.
The main attraction for tourists at Bath is the Roman Baths, a bath with flowing water from a natural hot spring source. Admission was included in the tour so we made a beeline for the complex.
The tour through the Baths were fairly quick as there really wasn’t that much to see. The baths were a pretty sight, but it was all a little same-ish after a while.
On the way back, we made sure to stop by an ice cream shop reccommended by Tish by the name of the Real Italian Ice Cream Co. We ordered a scoop each of the Oreo and the hazelnut ice cream. The hazelnut ice cream was creamy with distinct hazelnut flavour and the Oreo ice cream had generous chunks of Oreo biscuit. It was a sweet and refreshing pick-me-up.
We had a bit of time to kill, so we did a bit of window shopping and had a look at a lovely garden near the coach pick up point.
It was farewell to Bath and about an hour’s trip through the country scenery towards Stonehenge.
The coach parked near the Visitor’s Centre, where we had to wait for a small bus to drive us to the stones themselves.
We walked around the perimeter set up around the stones, listening to the audio guide and taking some snaps. It was quite cold and windy at the stones – great for some wild, hair-blowing photos.
Remarkably no-one knows exactly how the stones got there or why they were constructed in such a way. Theories about it being a burial ground to being used by cults for sacrifices or more incredulously of it being of alien origin is debated to this day.
We caught the bus back and spent some time in the gift shop, which had quite nice souvenirs featuring the Stonehenge, before boarding the coach for our journey back to London.
The coach dropped us off at Gloucestor Road Station. We took the tube back to Russell Station and stopped by the North Sea Fish restaurant to take away some fish and chips. It was average – taking away probably wasn’t a good idea as it got a little soggy, especially as it was wrapped in paper.
Timing-wise, the itinerary could have allocated more time to spend in Winsor and less at Bath, otherwise there’s not much to complain about the tour.
The next day we depart London for beautiful Edinburgh, which for me personally, was the more enjoyable leg of our Europe trip.