Grand Tour of Great Britain-Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle

It's Friday October 20, 2017 and we're in LONDON! I cannot believe it.

I wake up in the Hilton Kensington with this song in my head: London Calling

While having our buffet breakfast, I check the weather. It's kind of gloomy and it's drizzling right now but the weather report says skies will be clearing later today. Today we'll be coach touring London then heading to Buckingham Palace to hopefully catch the changing of the guard, then on to Windsor Castle to see if we can see the Queen.
Our guide for the day is Nikki and our coach driver is Robert. We load up and head out.  Nikki tell us we're staying in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. We pass Notting Hill (loved that movie!)
We all wave at Prince Albert.

Cruise through Piccadilly.

We see a lot of bikes and newly added bike paths. Nikki explains the Low Emission Zone Tax to us and says a lot of people now ride their bikes into the city inside of driving their cars.

Many think this is the London Bridge-it's not, it is The Tower Bridge.

St. Paul's Cathedral

We hop off the coach and walk towards Buckingham Palace. We're hoping to see the changing of the Queens Guard. To get there we walk part of The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk.

We get there and the roads are closed and there are police everywhere. 

We station ourselves just outside these gates, up against the railing.

And then it begins. Nikki explains how the "old" guard is replaced by the New Guard. During the Changing the Guard ceremony, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’, one regiment takes over from another. The Queen’s Guard consists of the St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments. The New Guard, who during the course of the ceremony become The Queen’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks.

Here's a quick video I shot during the ceremony.
Very cool, I never thought I'd see this in my lifetime...
Back on the coach and we're heading to Windsor Castle.
We climb up the stairs from the car park and walk along the city streets to the Windsor Royal Shopping (an arcade of shops and eateries at the base of the castle lands.) We grab a bit to eat at eat.
Photography is only allowed of exteriors, no interior photography is tolerated. (Oh well-you'll have to buy the official book.)

We gather and walk up the hill to the castle. The stone fortress is quite impressive. Some of it's history: William the Conqueror’s wooden castle was rebuilt by Edward III as a stone fortress with magnificent apartments; then Charles II set out to rival the Versailles of his cousin Louis XIV and added more ornamentation; George IV filled the rooms with outstanding works of art and gave the Castle its famous skyline.

The Queen's Flag is flying so she is in residence.

The gardens are spectacular.

Oh look, there's a black Range Rover at the Queen's Residence...

And now the Range Rover is gone. Maybe the Queen is out for a drive.

Even a fire on November 20, 1992 couldn't bring down the Queen and her castle. Read about it here. The castle suffered extensive damage in the fire and was fully repaired within the next few years at a cost of £36.5 million, in a project led by the conservation architects Donald Insall Associates. It led to the Queen paying tax on her income, and to Buckingham Palace, the Queen's other official residence, being opened to the public to help pay for the restoration work.

We also visited the Queen Mary's Dolls' House  and St George's Chapel (where many famous dead people were laid to rest.) Time is tight so we race through the chapel.

We give the royal wave to the castle and head back to London.
We're back at the hotel around 5 p.m.. We get freshened up and head to dinner. Tonight is the farewell dinner for the people on tour who haven't opted to stay a few more days in London.

Bruce is dubbed Official Assistant Farkeler (don't ask...)

Our group of travelers pose for one last photo.

Many, many, many more photos: CLICK HERE
Be sure to check out Our "Ode to Farkeling" video (Thanks to Mark for organizing it!)
Tomorrow we visit the Tower of London and cruise the Thames River.
Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours

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