Windsor, England as a place name is one I have known many years from an American viewpoint as the location of a famous historic castle. Seeing a tower of Windsor Castle from the bus while a mile or more away induced travel giddiness. Still 10 minutes to go to the Parish Church bus stop in the town of Windsor near the castle as we drove through the city with children, elderly and tourists crossing streets and city traffic stop lights delaying my arrival.
Periodically I sighted the River Thames as the bus meandered through the countryside and into the town of Windsor. Passing the high walls of Windsor Castle to my left, I spied a Chinese restaurant buffet to my right advertising £6 buffet prices, potentially my night’s dinner dining.
Hungry feeling after traveling for ten straight hours from Romania to London Luton (8 hours passed from the time I took a bus from the Hampton Cluj hotel to Cluj-Capoca Airport CLJ and finally through Luton LTN passport control), then a National Express bus to London Heathrow (1 hour), then Paddington Heathrow Express from Terminal 2/3 to Terminal 5, and the GreenLine bus 703 to Windsor (1 hour).
Windsor was warm with temperatures about 22 to 23 C in late October at 16:00 with another two plus hours of daylight left. I had to get out on the streets and see the town in brilliant afternoon sunlight. Try and stave off the feeling of hunger for another hour or two.
The town simultaneously appeared historical and Disneyesque touristy. A statue of Queen Victoria at the intersection of Windsor High Street and Castle Hill when I looked east with a Krispy Kreme and Starbucks sighted down the pedestrian alley of Peascod Street when I looked west.
Visitors were being turned away from Windsor Castle by the time I was standing in front of the Henry VIII Gate. Last visitor admission to Windsor Castle is 16:00 and the castle closes at 17:15 in peak season from March 1 to October 31 and one hour earlier in low season.
A tour of Windsor Castle was not in my plans. I simply came to Windsor for an overnight hotel stay and brief scouting mission to determine if my wife and I would find three or four days in Windsor on an upcoming trip worthwhile.
Oh yes, I instantly decided.
The bus ride into town past the River Thames walkway and parks and several charming pubs, followed by the view from the Clarion Collection Harte & Garter Hotel castle view room convinced me we could occupy ourselves enjoyably for three or four days hanging around Windsor.
The Carpenters Arms ranks TripAdvisor #31 of 181 located on Market Street, also close to Windsor Castle.
I assumed The Prince Harry was a historic pub named after Henry V (with a Kenneth Branagh young Prince Harry image in mind). I was wrong. This pub, formerly known as The Three Tuns, changed its name to The Prince Harry in 2018 in honor of the current prince shortly before the June 2018 Royal Wedding. The Prince Harry ranks #68 of 181 on TripAdvisor restaurants in Windsor.
The Horse and Groom is a pub on Castle Hill across from Windsor Castle King Henry VIII Gate. The Horse and Groom ranks #36 of 181 restaurants on TripAdvisor.
I ate at Thai Terrace (TripAdvisor 161 of 181), so obviously my dining choice was not based on TripAdvisor restaurant ranking. I walked by the High Street restaurant and determined it met my objective for quick food with lots of vegetables that was reasonably tasty. I selected a good sampling from the buffet with 8 to 10 dishes and I stuffed bites from about five dishes in a take-way box for $8 US cash in lieu of the £5.50 take away box buffet price. I only had £5 in coins and did not want to withdraw any money from an ATM for one day in Windsor so did not mind paying an inflated exchange rate to use U.S. Dollars. Getting by on bank card charges only is fairly easy in metro London area if you stay away from Chinese restaurants and street market stalls.
A bit of Thai food satiated my hunger and left time for me to walk around Windsor some more before sunset on a warm Wednesday afternoon in October.
The Thames was only a little more than five minutes walk from Harte & Garter Hotel.
Eton is another place name familiar to me. I had not realized it is a town on the opposite bank of the Thames from Windsor. More pubs, restaurants, inns and tourist shops.
TripAdvisor ranks The George #2 of 12 restaurants in Eton.
The streets looked fairly empty in Eton and most shops were closed, so I changed direction and headed back over Windsor Bridge to the more happening city.
My objective was not to photograph all the pubs in Windsor and Eton. These were the primary sights I saw walking along High Street Windsor.
I was hoping to spot something more historical. Back in Windsor I found some memorials.
I tend to snap a photo of plaques I see and then research the history. Windsor Martyrs were three Protestants burnt at the stake August 4, 1543 during the reign of Henry VIII.
One of the prettiest buildings I saw in Windsor is the Oxfam charity shop located in a 16th century timbered building on Peascod Street.
I wanted to check out The Long Walk and I walked down High Street until I reached Two Brewers Pub. The Long Walk was already too dark and would need to wait for morning daylight.
Two Brewers looked like a charming pub next to the gate to The Long Walk. An American couple was describing their England travel itinerary to a local as I walked by the pub.
The Long Walk Windsor
The Long Walk is a 2.64-mile long road from Windsor Castle gate to the equestrian statue of King George III. Double rows of 1,652 elm trees were planted along its length during the reign of King Charles I. These trees were mostly removed in 1946 due to Dutch Elm disease.
With darkness obscuring the view, I went back to the Long Walk in the morning. My objective was to walk to the King George III statue, but too long a walk and too little time eliminated that endeavor.
With time running short before I needed to catch the bus back to London Heathrow for a flight to Iceland, I made my way through town for last looks.
The Windsor Lady
Bachelor’s Park, Windsor has The Windsor Lady statue commemorating the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, the 60th year of her reign.
Windsor was far more charming than I had anticipated. My regret is my wife was not with me for the lovely weather and first exposure to Windsor. She is the British Royal amateur historian and experiencing Windsor with her will be far more educational.
We’ll be back in Windsor in a couple of months. Flights ticketed and hotels booked. I look forward to reaching the King George III statue on The Long Walk and hopefully seeing some of the deer when the thinner crowds of winter probably allow them to walk around more freely.
Kelley won’t be keen on Thai take-away for her meals. Trying out some of the better reviewed restaurants and pubs in Windsor on a real pub crawl was one of the primary reasons I listed the TripAdvisor rankings for pubs I saw on my walks around Windsor.