London, week 4: Windsor, Eton, Bath, Stonehenge

Week four was a lazy week. The thing about working in research is – sometimes you need chemicals. And you order them. But until their delivery… you can basically stay home, if you’re a research assistant, like me! That was a few days before Easter break, so altogether I got nine days off. Nine days!

The minute I got out of the school I texted an old penpal of mine from the US, who was just doing a master’s in Falmouth, Cornwall. And it turned out she was just coming to London that day. So we had dinner together at Jamie’s Italian (oh, did I mention that was the first time we ever saw each other in person? Ever?) and then did some shopping at Primark (shopping there right before they close is a great idea, by the way).

London. Connecting people.

That weekend, I booked a trip to Windsor, Eton, Bath, and Stonehenge. It is not easy (or cheap) to get to those destinations by yourself. I figured I probably wouldn’t want to spend a whole day visiting every single one, so I opted for an organized trip – something very unusual for me.

Windsor long walkYou have probably heard of Windsor before. It’s an adorable town famous for the Windsor Castle, which is one of the official residences of the royal family. We didn’t visit the castle this time, as I was there with a group of students who don’t like spending money, but we took some time to explore its surroundings and feed the Queen’s swans.

Fun fact – did you know that all the swans in British waters actually belong to the Queen? It used to be popular to just shoot one and bring it home for dinner – so to protect them, the Crown made it a criminal offence to harm a swan in any way. That was in the 12th century, but counting them annually is still a tradition, known as Swan Upping.

Windsor mailbox

 

feeding swans Windsor

A short walk from Windsor, across the Windsor bridge, is Eton, famous for the boarding school called Eton College. It has many famous alumni, or Old Etonians, as they’re called, including: Tom Hiddleston (<3), Prince William and Prince Harry, Bear Grylls, Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis, Hugh Laurie, George Orwell and some politicians, like Boris Johnson, the current mayor of London and nineteen British prime ministers. Plus other royalty from Great Britain and beyond. Unfortunately, they closed the school for visitors and they won’t reopen it before 2016.

We continued the tour to Bath, Somerset, a city settled in the roman times, famous for, you guessed it, its hot springs and the roman bath. And Jane Austen, who lived there in the early 19th century. So in addition to the Roman Baths you can also visit the Jane Austen Centre – or just the gift shop.

Roman bath
Bath museum map

Map of Roman BathBath Somerset
The final stop was Stonehenge. I imagined it to be bigger than it actually is, but it was great to see anyway (even though it was raining heavily!). There’s a nice exhibition nearby that lets you know everything about the history of Stonehenge – I had no idea about any of it. Really interesting. And, of course – another gift shop.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge museum

All in all, Stonehenge is a must-see if you’re ever in the UK. And so is Windsor, if you’re at least a little interested in the royal family! It’s especially true for the castle (but I’ll get to that in one of the later posts). It’s easy to get to from London by train, so there’s no reason not to visit! Just try not to do it when it’s raining.