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My future homes... or not.

Well, my last full day with Barb and Bill was a day full of humongous palaces. We started out from Salisbury early and drove to see Hampton Court Palace. The palace is pretty huge, and a bit odd since it has parts that were clearly built in different eras and so they seem a bit disjointed. The palace wasn't too crowded, and we even had some of the rooms to ourselves as we toured around. We first went into an exhibition showing the kitchens as they would have been at the time of Henry VIII. They are massive! It makes sense considering how many people needed to be fed every day, but it's still a huge place! I'm pretty sure that Mom would have loved the bread ovens since she would never run out of places to cook things in that kitchen like we sometimes do at home! Next we went to see Henry VIII's state rooms. Since I've read and watched a lot about the actual history it was very cool to see the actual rooms in which these things happened. As we walked into some of the rooms I kept thinking that they looked pretty much exactly as I had imagined them! They are very beautiful and VERY lavish - one had four huge tapestries hanging on the walls that cost more money than I'll likely ever see in my whole lifetime! We also went through rooms created for William and Mary and they were very beautiful but not quite my style. Finally we went to see the gardens and they were huge and immaculate. They even sculpted the trees! We also saw the grape vine that they have growing there - it's the largest one in the world!

We then left and went to Windsor Castle because it was getting a little late and we wanted to make sure that we had enough time to explore. It is absolutely gigantic! It's the largest occupied castle in the world and let me tell you, that is not at all hard to believe! First we went to St. George's Chapel because it was closing early. It's pretty incredible, especially for it being inside of a castle - I didn't expect the kind of opulence I found there! It has a bunch of royals (including the Queen Mum) buried there and some really beautiful stained glass windows. The Albert Memorial Chapel is even more intricate, which really just takes your breath away! Next we went into the state apartments and they were definitely the best ones we have seen so far! Everything seemed to be designed to awe and it certainly achieved that goal for me! It's so stunning it's hard to describe it all - basically, everything is amazing. You can tell where the fire was, but only because the rooms which were burned are now made with wooden ceilings and look newer. They are still just as opulent as the rest of the castle.

After that we got the train schedules from Reading and then attempted to get to our places to stay for the night. We got lost at first and by the time that we had found Barb & Bill's B&B for the night the lady had rented it out to another couple!!! Then we made our way to my hostel and it took the guy at the desk a really long time to find my reservation since they had it under my first name and not my last name! Then Bill tried calling 3 or 4 B&Bs but wasn't able to find any openings and so Barb & Bill ended up staying in the hostel with me that night! Barb stayed in my room, and we (luckily) were the only ones in a 6-person room. Bill stayed in a room with 2 other guys and had to sleep on a top bunk! Poor Bill! At least we all had somewhere to stay the night, though!