After a long day trip yesterday to Oslo, I was back up early again this morning.
Today was my last day in London and I had a couple of things to do.
First I wanted to see Windsor Castle and another changing of the guard.
On my travels the last few years I’ve seen a handful of these ceremonial events but I always want to see another.
There’s something about the spectacle and the tradition that draws me to see it.
I mean, after all, I had just seen the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace two days ago and now I was on my way to see another.
Oh, and there was a pretty important castle there too – mustn’t forget that…
I caught a 9am train taking me an hour out of London to the city of Windsor so I could arrive well in time to get a good spot to see the routine at 11am.
Unlike the other changing of the guards, you have to pay to enter the castle to see this one.
No big deal because I was going to tour the castle anyway. The price to enter was kind of steep at £20.50 ($33) but, hey, it was the castle of the Queen of England.
Before I left, one of the guys at the hostel told me the forecast called for rain, like alot of rain, so I was prepared for a tough day soaking in the rain.
What I didn’t take into account was that the changing of the guard was subject to cancellation at a moment’s notice if the weather turned. Of course I found this out after I paid my admission fee.
So, I found my spot at the front of the barricade a good 45 minutes early and stood there crossing my fingers rain wouldn’t come.
Turns out the forecast was dead wrong and it never rained at all.
At 11am the show was on and once again the crowds swarmed with their cameras and selfie sticks.
After the guard change I toured the royal apartments in the castle. Sadly no photos are allowed and there are tons of staff standing in each room ensuring that none are taken.
You’ll just have to trust me when I say the castle was grand and an amazing site to see both from the outside and the inside.
By the time I arrived back at the hostel in London it was 2:30 and I was wiped out.
The last few days have been action packed and long and I hadn’t got a full night’s sleep each of those nights.
I relaxed in my room for awhile. All I wanted to do was go to sleep but I had a pretty big event to go to tonight and I sure as hell wasn’t going to sleep through it.
Yes, tonight I went to see a musical in the West End of London.
And not just any musical but the longest running one – Les Miserables.
So, at 6pm I got dressed up as best as one who’s backpacking for 4 months can and headed towards Piccadilly Circus and the West End of London.
The seat I had bought online was a front row seat priced at £64 ($105). Sure it was expensive but when I do classy I sit in the front row dammit!
Again, no cameras were allowed but I was actually fine with that because that way you sit back and just enjoy the experience.
And what an experience it was.
I had never see Les Mis, or watched the movie or didn’t even know anything about the musical.
When the actress playing Fantine sang “I dreamed a dream”, literal goosebumps rolled up my arms and I just sat forward, hands on chin, marveling at the experience in front of me.
As I walked the streets after the show I kept thinking about where my trip was just a short two weeks ago and where it is now and how dramatic the change has been.
I have loved both Paris and now London but there is still so much more to see.
Tomorrow I’ll head out of London to explore the rest of the UK over the next month before I head over to Eastern Europe for another two months.
It feels like I’ve already been on the trip for awhile and, yet, there’s are so many more adventures waiting for me.