Doing a budget for our London/Paris trip

As we began planning our trip to London and Paris I created an Excel spreadsheet to use in estimating our expenses.  I created lines for each day of the trip, including what we intended to do that day.  Then I added columns for the entry of various types of expenditures.  Some were prepaid: Travel, Lodging, and a couple of Sightseeing items.  They were charged to the credit card and were paid before we ever left home.  Other columns listed items with amounts I either had researched or were just educated guesses: Food, Travel (local), and Sightseeing (again).  I filled in these amounts the best I could.
All told, then, I had a budget for our trip.
During the trip we used a debit card to get cash and only used the credit card for our final night’s lodging.  We carried cash (plus a little) for each day and paid for everything as we went.  I didn’t bother to hang on to receipts for things paid for by cash.  Of course, we knew how much we had withdrawn with the debit card, so we knew where we were so far as the big picture was concerned.
In other words, I knew I’d taken, say, $500 cash with the debit card, so when I was running out of money I knew we’d spent $500 – I just didn’t bother trying to keep up with how much we’d spent on food or on public transportation or sightseeing.
I’ve just finished revisiting the spreadsheet, now working with actual dollar amounts. 
The bottom line: we spent $55.39 more than I budgeted!
Obviously, my research and educated guesses were pretty good.  One thing, I think, that kept us on track was that we planned to put about as much effort into each day as we could physically do so there wasn’t much chance that we’d suddenly decide to visit an extra attraction.  Our plate was full enough as it was.  Speaking of “plates” – the food budget would have been the easiest one to blow.  Since we were in an apartment most of the time we planned to eat pretty much what we always eat for breakfast.  We then planned on having a light (sandwich type) lunch each day and then eat out that evening unless we just wanted to hang out at the apartment and fix something easy for supper.  We did that a few times, but also enjoyed some good meals in the nearby restaurants.  Let me add that we generally like finding places where the locals eat rather than going to a more up-scale restaurant.  One person could have spent our entire day’s food budget in a lot of very nice establishments.  I’m not against that, but that’s just not our thing.
Anyway, if a person spends some time looking into things and is realistic, there’s a good chance that they can set a trip budget and stick to it.

At least, let’s say, missing it by no more than $55.39.

Planning our London/Paris trip using Google Maps

One of the most helpful things I did was create a Google Map of our trip.  I found all the major places we wanted to visit and added place markers for them.  Under “traffic” I clicked on “transit” and it showed me all the tube lines and stops.  That helped me visualize where one place was in relation to another and also where the tube stops were.

The neatest thing, though, was that I could zoom into street view and “walk” down the streets I was going to visit.  More than once, as we literally walked along a street I had a sense of Déjà vu because I had taken virtual walks via my Google Map.

There was also a practical side to this.  When we were debating doing the London Walks Cotswolds tour I got on Trip Advisor and found out what towns were would likely visit.  I was able to virtually walk around the towns to see if the tour was our cup of tea (it was, very much so).

Up till now, I kept our map as private, but now that the trip is over, I’ve removed a couple of things and have switched it to public.  Here’s the link – see what you think.

You can see lots of photos from our trip in my photo album.

London and Paris on the Tube and Metro

More “after the trip” thoughts…

If you’re going to London or Paris and like to explore on your own, I suggest you make a list of places you want to visit, centering each day around one major event but throwing in some more or less “day’s off” along the way.

Then, as you plan, make serious use of the London Journey Planner and the Paris Recherche avancée. You can specify quickest – bus – train – etc. for the journey. Do a copy/paste into a document, one page for each day.

Then, as you travel around use the information you’ve gathered.

I surprised myself in Paris as we left the Eiffel Tower, wanting to take the bus (to see Paris as we went) to the Louvre. Per my own instructions we walked along an avenue, turned at the right place, and there sat two busses with the correct route number on them. When we approached the front bus, the driver pointed across the street to yet another bus, just loading. My self-made instructions were almost perfect, just not pointing to the correct side of the street.

We did stuff like that as we found our way around London and Paris, not quite moving around as locals, but independently flowing from one place to another in a satisfying way.

On both the Tube and Metro (subway and bus alike) you need to know the train or bus’ ultimate destination plus your stop along the way. Having a pre-printed page of instructions (to and from) makes a huge difference as you stand in an underground station deciding which platform is the right one. Of course, you have big maps in every station and, of course, you have a pocket map – but things feel rather confusing when there are thousands of rushing commuters all around you.

There’s no chance people will think you’re a local, but having the piece of paper in your hand that says, in your own words: “At Green Park station, take the Jubilee Line towards Stratford Underground Station or West Ham – get off at Canary Wharf” gives you more confidence than just knowing you need to “take the tube to Canary Wharf.”

You can see lots of photos from our trip in my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 15

Our night at Lampton Guest House was a short one. The fellows working there were quite helpful. One of the guys caught me carrying my bags down the several flights of stairs and seemed genuinely concerned. He not only carried the bags on downstairs but, after breakfast, carried the bags down the outside stairs, setting them down at the entry gate to the property. Again, this isn’t high end accommodations, but had the bed not moaned and groaned with every move it would have been a somewhat acceptable, low dollar place to stay.

After a quick breakfast we headed for Heathrow on the tube. People had warned me about Heathrow security, but it was much the same as anywhere else we’ve been. Within 30 minutes of arriving at the airport we were through check in, bag check, security, and headed for our gate. Our gate was out of Terminal 5/C – so we had to take a subway out to our gate and the plane was loaded right on time. Then we sat and sat some more, apparently waiting for a take off slot. Fifty-five minutes later we were finally underway.

So, now that we’re on our way home, I have some random thoughts, mostly just observations.

In both London and Paris, using the restroom/loo/WC/toilet is a privilege more than a right. Businesses with restrooms hide them way down at the far end of the basement to be sure non-customers don’t sneak in and use the facilities. If it’s a public restroom you’ll either pay to use it or at the very least you should have brought your own tissue. Just remember, when you find one, use it!

The reverse is also true. Water fountains are quite rare and then, only within the confines of paid venues, like the Tower of London. We bought some “distilled” water and then refilled the plastic bottles and carried them every day. At least for the first part of the day we had water. It’s about as expensive to buy bottled water as to buy a soda. Of course, if you allow yourself to become dehydrated you’ll save money on both bought water and restrooms! Apparently, it’s the London/Paris way!

Two weeks in London and Paris has nearly broken me of my coffee drinking habit. Believe it or not, the best coffee I had on the trip (and that’s not saying much) was while we were up on the Eiffel Tower! Most of the coffee was fixed on some kind of automatic machine (glorified instant if you ask me) – too black and bitter. I somehow managed to get tiny cups of syrupy coffee a couple of times. Why I kept ordering is a mystery to me. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. One thing about it, the no-refills policy on everything saved me from myself so far as trying “one more cup.”

As we planned this trip we kept in mind how easy it would be to over schedule and just wear ourselves out. It’s a real challenge to get the most “bang for your buck” and not come home exhausted. Well, we tried, but we ended a lot of days worn out. For us, aside from getting over jet lag and “travel lag” the biggest problem has been tired legs and backs. At home we walk a lot. I do about three miles a day but that 45 minutes of steady, fast walking does almost nothing to prepare you for 6 hours of walking up and down stairs on public transportation, walking around museums, standing around museums, hunting places to sit in museums, and walking to and from the public transportation. The Tower of London, British Museum, Cotswolds tour (operated by London Walks – what else could we expect?), and Louvre were hard on us. In each of these places there came a time when the aching legs and backs diminished the experience. No solution here – just an observation.

Let’s see…what else? Londoners are in a bigger hurry than Parisians who, I think, enjoy life more. It feels safe in many areas of either city to be out, on foot, after dark. The tube feels more modern (Londoners will laugh) than the Metro. Commuter trains are terrific ways to get around in either city. Book tickets to famous places as early as possible to save standing (remember, “tired legs”) in long lines. You’ll enjoy eating in Paris more than in London. Bakeries in Paris are a delight. In London, eat ethnic foods for the best meals. Our best London meal was at a local Turkish restaurant, not fancy at all, but really good food.

We spent a lot of money (for us) on this trip of a lifetime. It’s money we could use for other things but with retirement, howbeit a ways off, out there on the horizon we knew that if we were ever going to make such a trip, it was now or never. At this point, I say it was money well spent. There’s something enriching about seeing a different place, visiting some famous spots, and seeing how other people live. Jackie and I enjoyed having this special time together. Will we do it again? Probably not, at least unless someone loves my travel writing so much that they want to give me a generous advance on a travel book or something like that.

So, there you have it. If you’ve traveled with us, thanks. I hope you’ve enjoyed our dream London/Paris trip.

You can see lots of photos from our trip in my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 14

I write this portion of this post as we cruise along on the Eurostar traveling from Paris to London. (Now there’s a sentence I’ll likely never write again!) Shortly, we’re going to eat the picnic lunch we carried on board: cheese bought in a Parisian open air market, bread, bought in a Parisian local bakery, and chocolate, bought in a Parisian store – all while riding along at well over 100 mph on Eurostar (eat your heart out!). We finished our short visit to Paris with our pleasant evening with our friends Alex and Karla. Since our train was scheduled for 1:00pm on Saturday we were able to sleep in and have plenty of time to pack and then take the Metro to Paris Nord for our return to London.

When I first began researching this trip I intended to fly “open jaw” – arriving in Paris, taking Eurostar to London, and then leaving from there. However, the price was much higher. Thus we ended up doing a round trip from Houston to London by air and a round trip from London to Paris via train. Jackie likes high speed train travel so much that she wishes Eurostar offered service to Houston!

We enjoyed Paris very much and found it to be quite tourist friendly. Anywhere tourists go there are people who speak English. We used our French “hello” and “thank you” accompanied by lots of smiles and got along very well. The Metro is easy enough to use although it can be hot and crowded. Some of the trains feel quite worn, but others are modern. My only known brush with pickpockets came just as we arrived, on our first trip on the Metro. A group of girls acted as though they were uncertain of their stop. With lots of noise, one got off the train and others said, “no, this isn’t the stop.” Then they had second thoughts just as the doors were about to close and one brushed by me. They came up empty because I wasn’t carrying anything in my pants pockets. As we departed, one kind lady asked me if I had my wallet. The answer was “no” – but because I didn’t have a wallet where they could get to it that way. Later I thought someone tried to lift my cell phone from by cargo pants pockets, but the next time I carried a suitcase up a flight of stairs I realized it brushed against my leg in just the right way to “lift” the phone.

My “security” approach on the trip was only partially successful. I wore a money belt for passports and other important papers. My plan was to wear a tee-shirt with a pocket under my button down shirt. I would keep my money in a small wallet in the tee-shirt pocket with my shirt buttoned up. However, the wonderful weather messed me up! It was just too warm to wear two shirts like that. I ended up carrying my money, etc. in one of my cargo pants lower pockets, buttoned in. In Paris, I went to security level two and added a safety pin under the flap of that same pocket. I then forgot about it and enjoyed my sightseeing. The last two days in Paris it cooled off quite a bit and I was able to move my money to the tee-shirt pocket, securing it under my shirt plus light jacket. That was my plan “A” and it worked very well.

Alex and Karla were more than gracious and we enjoyed their company and appreciated their kindness very much. Because we were with them we went a few places I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go, especially at night. If they had a tour business I’d heartily recommend their business to you!

Paris is a beautiful city and a great place to visit. I enjoyed finding my way around and a few smile filled encounters with “locals” who patiently tried to understand what I wanted. One trip to the bakery was especially fun for us, and I think the baker got a bit of a kick out of it too.

Our hotel in Paris, the Citea Hotel in Charenton was outside what most people think of as the tourist area. I picked it because it had a good price, good reviews on Trip Advisor, and was close to the Metro. From there, it was around 40 minutes, for instance, to the Eiffel Tower. The neighborhood felt safe after dark, and we passed several more local restaurants and other shops as we waked to and from the Liberte Metro station.

I have to admit that returning to London has with it a small feeling of relief. No doubt a tourist can get into plenty of trouble there, but the common language (more or less) makes me feel I can better get myself out of whatever pickle I’ve gotten myself into. Returning to London also has, of course, a feeling of sadness as our adventure is drawing to a close.

Tonight we’re at a place called Lampton Guest House, chosen for price and proximity to the London Underground and Heathrow airport. We arrived here in the middle of the afternoon. Frankly, it’s a bit of a disappointment. I expected the small room, but in spite of asking for the fewest possible stairs we ended up on the fourth floor with a noisy bed and not enough light.

However, we walked a few blocks to a lively and interesting High Street with lots of shops and venders, including a shopping mall. Then, we decided to try the Pop Inn Café for supper. We stumbled onto the best meal we’ve had in London. It’s a Turkish restaurant with good food, huge portions, and low prices. We only managed to eat half our food. The waitress offered us take-away boxes but we told her they would have to travel to Houston, Texas in the morning. She laughed and asked about our trip.

In the morning it’s back on the tube for a quick hop to Heathrow followed by a long hop across the “pond.”

You can see lots of photos from our trip in my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 13

We headed for the Effiel Tower first thing this morning.  A month before our trip I checked out advance booking times and found that Wednesday and Thursday were full.  I took the first open slot for Friday, which as 9:30.  We got on the Metro and traveled on full trains (standing room only) across the city to the stop close to the tower and got there just before our scheduled time, which happens to be when the tower opens for visitors.  When we arrived we found that there were 30 or so people waiting in the “we-have-advanced-tickets” line.  There was probably 200 people in the “we-just-showed-up” line.  When we concluded our visit in just over an hour there were no people in the first line, they just showed up on time and walked through security.  There were probably 500 people in the second line.  The moral of the story: buy advance tickets!

So up we went.  Jackie and heights don’t get along but she agreed to travel with me to the second level and I agreed to not try to drag her any closer to heaven than that.  Really, the views from level 2 are terrific and many people claim that it’s the best level for picking out landmarks.  I can’t enter that debate because we opted to enjoy our time on the tower together.  The views of the city are wonderful and I took lots of pictures as well as just enjoyed trying to recognize some of the places we had already seen.

It was rather cool though.  The summer-like temps we enjoyed in London were concluding as we headed for Paris and this morning, fall was here in earnest.  We finally had good reason to wear the jackets we’ve been hauling around the world.

When we finished at the Effiel Tower we boarded a local bus for a 30 minute ride through the streets of Paris for the Louvre.  Our Paris Museum passes let us ignore all the poor folks in the “we-just-decided-to-come” line and breeze through the “we’ve-got-a-museum-pass” line.  Knowing we could never see it all, we opted for Rick Steves’ Paris book.  He has a tour in it and we followed it the best we were able.

I appreciated their policy of allowing photography, but no flash and was able to take several interesting pictures.  Yes, we saw the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa and umpteen other works of art.  After nearly three hours my appreciation level was near saturation so we decided to call it good.

Because we had a museum pass, we decided to stick our heads in the door of the d’Orsey museum.  Again, we found the museum pass entrance and walked right in.  They have a no pictures policy, so we looked around a bit and decided our tired legs were winning out over our appreciation for fine things.  We headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours downtime.

Our evening was spent with friends Alex and Karla.  They picked us up in his 1974 Citroen.  Off we went for a drive around Paris.  Alex handled the traffic and we enjoyed the ride.  It was a terrific way to see the city.  Our destination was the Sacré-Coeur cathedral and then dinner at a nice restaurant.  The views from the church steps are fantastic and our meal was very good.  Alex and Karla could start a sightseeing business!  What a nice way to conclude a big day in Paris!

You can see lots of photos from our trip my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 12

Our main destination today was the Chataue de Versailles.  We took the Metro to the RER (the light rail of Paris) and then 30 or 40 minutes out to Versailles.  It was nearly lunch time so we grabbed a light sandwich and then walked the few blocks to the palace.  Our Paris Museum pass let us go through the short (non existent) line right into the palace grounds.  In a few minutes we, and many thousand of our friends, were touring the King Louis XIV’s house.  Photography is allowed, but no flash pictures.  Since many of the rooms are rather dark, and since there are so many people there, it’s hard to get good interior photos.

 I concentrated on the ceilings for photos.  They are each a masterpiece  of their own, each telling a story and making a statement (most generally about how great a person Louis XIV was).  He believed it was his right and duty as King to show the rest of the world just how good life could be and, because he was quite a party animal, the palace was quite an active place.  A couple of generations later the French people would vote against this philosophy right in this same place as they stormed the gates, grabbing some of the nice things their royalty had accumulated and bidding their royalty “adieu.”

We got audio guides, included in the price.  I decided I’d try English – and it turned out to be a good choice since I wouldn’t have understood any of the other 7 or 8 languages they offered.  Seriously, we really liked using the guides, they explain each room in 3 or 4 minutes.  That makes the experience more interesting.

Having seen the inside we opted to not pay for a shuttle ride to some of the other buildings, but instead, to look over the gardens around the palace.  Really, a person could just spend their time at Versailles doing that.  We didn’t see the fountain run, but it was interesting to remember that during Louis XIV’s day he would send out servants to hand pump the fountains so his guests could look out the windows of the Hall of Mirrors and be impressed by the view.  These days, the fountains run at specified times, maybe the servants unionized.

Leaving the palace, we walked back into town.  I enjoyed snapping some shots of Paris as we rode our double decker commuter train back.  We’re a bit leg weary, so we’re taking a few hours of downtime before venturing out to find some supper later on.

You can see lots of photos from our trip my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 11

 Our morning started early as we finished packing and taking care of the things necessary to leave our London flat in good condition.  We boarded the tube to head for St. Pancras station and the famed Eurostar for a 2 hour high speed journey to Paris.  I was excited about traveling on Eurostar, my first high speed train journey.  It was so good that it nearly disappointed.  That is, the ride is smooth and the scenery flows by almost like watching a film on fast forward.  The journey through the Chunnel came unannounced and the only difference was that it was dark outside!  We arrived in Paris at exactly the scheduled time and we disembarked for our first visit to this famous city.

Things were a bit different for us here because our friends Alex and Karla met us at the station and served as tour guides for our first afternoon and evening in Paris.  After a nice lunch we checked into our hotel and then hopped the Metro for the Arc de Triomphe, one of the iconic symbols of Paris.  From there we walked down the one of the beautiful boulevards of Paris, the Champs-Elysees.  We enjoyed seeing the many shops for big name retailers along the way.  Even more we enjoyed people watching as we walked quite a distance to the opposite end of the boulevard.

We took a bit of a side trip to walk past some of the embassies as well as President Sarkozy’s residence.  Something was going on in the courtyard there, solders dressed in ceremonial uniforms were preparing to greet some, I think, dignitary.  We stopped to watch through the iron gate but a guard came over and encouraged us to move along.  Being an agreeable group, we took his advice!

From there it was through a pretty park and across the grounds of the Louvre.  We plan on visiting there in a few days, but today we just walked through on our way to Notre-Dame.  Unfortunately, we got there just a bit too late to tour the inside so we settled for some outside photos for now.

Along the way we walked across a bridge over the River Seine.  The sides of this bridge are covered with padlocks of love.  Couples take a padlock, write their names on it and then throw the key into the river.  It was fun seeing all the padlocks and I think it is a better idea than carving hearts and initials on trees like we did in the old days.

After a nice supper we headed back to our hotel room.  Ready for a long night’s sleep.

You can see lots of photos from our trip my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 10

From the beginning we’ve planned to make Tuesday a laundry-and-not-much-else-planned day and that’s what it’s been.  We slept in and then got started on laundry using the washer/dryer in our studio flat.  For lunch, though, we ventured out to explore more of the huge shopping center a few minutes walk way in Canary Wharf.

One thing Jackie wanted to do was (I know this will amaze you) find the local library, called the “Idea Store.”  She looked it over and then we wandered through the mall before deciding to have some Thai food for lunch.  We had a nice rice/chicken/spices meal along with a couple of pots of tea.  It was quite good and filling.

After lunch we walked over the a community park that is situated right on the Thames.  There’s a very nice walkway along the river and we strolled there for awhile before returning to the flat to finish up laundry.

I did considerable research in finding a place to stay in London.  It would be easy to spend a small fortune just on a hotel here.  Basically, the closer one stays to the main tourist areas around Buckingham, Hyde Park, etc. the more money it will cost.  However, if you are staying for a week or more, it’s worth the effort to find a flat to rent.  Generally speaking the flat will cost a bit more but will give you a lot more room and cooking capability which is nice for breakfast and maybe an occasional meal.  If you are willing to stay farther out, though, you can save some money.  I spent a lot of time on Tripadvisor looking at reviews and found this place; outside the tourist area in, instead, the “Wall Street” of London.  The cost was about the same as a tiny room in a “city” hotel but the accommodations are much better.  One of the main things to think about when planning a London trip is that the tube gives you great access to everything.  If you are close to a tube station you’re never far from the rest of London.  By staying at Canary Wharf we’ve had easy access to a great shopping center with plenty of shops and restaurants plus easy access to the tube, the light rail, the river commuter services – all with Greenwich 10 minutes away one direction and the Tower of London 10 minutes away the other.

We’ve found the people of London to be always in a hurry, always polite, and always willing to help if you ask them.  We think they smoke too much and don’t like having to walk through a cloud of smoke around the doors of nearly every building.  Sometimes we’ve struggled to understand what they say and they’ve struggled to understand us.  We were surprised, though, at how many people there are speaking other languages.  It’s as common to hear people speaking other languages as it is to hear English.  We’ve seen many men in beards and turbans and women wearing veiled outfits.  Those people, by the way, have never made us feel uncomfortable in any way.

We’ve seen less tattoos, more women wearing short skirts, and more men wearing dark suits with white shirts and black ties than we’ve seen at home.  Some of that may be due to being out here with all the business types.

We’ve been especially blessed by the weather.  It has been just terrific with lots of beautiful sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures.  We came prepared for London’s fall weather and ended up enjoying the best of London’s summer weather instead.  The jackets have been left on the hangers and the umbrellas haven’t been carried.   If anyone asks us about late September/early October London weather we’ll tell them it’s some of the best in the world — of course Londoners will laugh us out of the room when we say it!

Thanks for reading.

You can see lots of photos from our trip in my photo album.

London/Paris 2011 trip report–part 9

Our destination today was Windsor Castle.  It takes another train ride of about an hour to get there.  Let me say that the British trains are very good.  They are smooth and quiet.  The seats are a bit narrow, but aside from that, they are a great way to travel.  The trains are so quiet that people talk to one another (of course, no eye contact or conversations with strangers!) in subdued tones.  As we did on our way to the Cotswolds we rode in a “quiet car” – no cell phones or music.  It was a restful, interesting ride out to and back from Windsor.

From either of the Windsor train stations it’s a short walk up to the castle.  It’s an amazing place to visit.  The castle has been there for centuries, but the walls are like new.  The Queen doesn’t allow pictures to be taken inside of any building, so I snapped away while outside, but put the camera away as we viewed the Queen’s dollhouse (filled with miniatures – it even has a working plumbing system).  If you’ve never heard of it, google it – it’s really neat.  Then we took a long and interesting walk through the royal apartments.  Every room has portraits of famous members of the royal families painted by famous artists.  The ceilings are works of art, the furniture pieces are all works of art; there’s gold and silver, weapon displays, banners, and lots of other impressive stuff.  Some of the rooms are basically part of a museum (“Napoleon slept here”), while others are actually used for state activities.  Right now the Queen isn’t in residence there, but will be shortly.  That’s actually a good thing because we were able to view some rooms that won’t be available to the public once she arrives.

On the property is another 1000 year old church, St. George’s Chapel.  Again, no photos, but it’s quite a place to visit.  Lots of kings and queens and other royals are buried in the church, and the Quire (I’d call it the “sanctuary”) has seats for the “Knights of Windsor.”  There are shields for all the knights over their seats, and then, there’s an impressive sword and shield for the current knight who claims his place at the church.

We stayed for the Evensong service and just happened to be there for a special memorial service for one of the Windsor Knights who recently passed away.  We heard another all male choir (the boy sopranos in particular were impressive).  However, the most interesting thing was the processional of around twelve Knights of Windsor.  These are all older men, mostly heroes from WWII.  They were dressed in what reminded me of Admiral outfits: red coats with tails, feathered hats, etc.  These men have all had distinguished military careers now and serve St. Georges.  There was lots of scripture and singing (obviously, quite “high church”) and a sort of memorial sermon by the man’s son.  We would have felt like intruders except for the fact that we, once again, found ourselves sitting in the Nave rather than in the Quire.  We could see through the opening into the service and hear everything quite well, but were actually sitting outside the service.  As I understand it, normally visitors are invited into the main sanctuary for the daily Evensong service but since there were many dignitaries there those seats were reserved for them.  To tell you the truth, I don’t think Jackie or I would have wanted to be inside anyway, we were way underdressed for the occasion as I left my Admiral suit home on this trip. 

And yes – we got the obligatory photo with the guard.  He wasn’t very polite.  I said “thanks” and he didn’t even blink an eye!  If you ever come to London – don’t miss Windsor – it’s a “must see.”

You can see lots of photos from our trip on my photo album.