Our second full-tilt tourist day started much like the first–up early with some grumbling and regret, breakfast from the crunchy organic place, and another long line for a bus. No complaints though. Even though we originally got in the wrong line at the wrong bus depot, we still made our loading time. And breakfast was extra delicious–I tried this açai berry/almond butter/banana/granola mash that in theory should have been disgusting but it was actually really tasty! And a croissant, mais oui.
We filed onto the bus around 9 am and learned very quickly that our guide, Deborah, would be taking no shit. Don’t get me wrong–she was the sweetest, most adorable lady I’ve ever met. Everybody was “my love” and “my darling.” She spoke in a firm but softly melodic voice, and she treated us like her goslings. But she had a schedule and lord help you if you didn’t stick to it. The last family to load the bus arrived a little late and the dad asked if he could go to the bathroom. Deborah asked if it was for him or his daughter and he said for him. She said, “Well, you’re a grown man and you can hold it for 45 minutes.” And thusly our adventure began.
This day trip included Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge, mostly because I was dying to go to Stonehenge but I enjoyed all three destinations. Windsor gets overrun very quickly, so that was the first stop. Deborah wanted to get us in and out before the crowds got too thick, but even so, there were a million people there. ONE MILLION. Walking up to the castle, Deborah pointed out Hogwarts.
Actually it’s just a fancy school where the royals and other rich people send their kids. But FUN FACT–the public school where Deborah’s kids attend out performs this fancy castle school by a fair margin. She told us that with some sass, and I love her for it. Deborah did everything with a little bit of sass and flare, like, “That’s Fuller’s Brewery on the right–a great place of worship.”
On our way into the castle, Deborah gave us some Windsor castle facts. Here are a few:
- The Queen likes to spend Easter at Windsor
- It’s the largest inhabited castle in the world and the oldest since 1066
- The castle contains 2,000 rooms
- In 1992 a bad fire broke out in Windsor castle, decimating 120 rooms. The fire raged for 20 minutes before anybody even knew it was there (I guess that’s what happens when you have a house with 2,000 rooms)
- It took 14 hours to put out the Windsor castle fire, but nobody died and only one treasure was lost.
We wandered through the state rooms unguided, and I wasn’t really impressed. It’s just a bunch of old paintings, ugly china, ornate tapestries, and other lavish displays of wealth. Lovely architecture, but everything else struck me as garish. I’d rather look at old trees and bearded goats on a mountain. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but I don’t really care. Once you’ve seen one old rug you’ve seen them all. Here are some pictures of the outside which was infinitely more interesting than the inside:
We happened to be there during the changing of the guard, which we watched for a little bit. But I’ll tell you–people really SWARM for that shit. I mean, PEOPLE GO NUTS FOR IT. I don’t get it. It’s just a marching band without instruments. But here they are, doing their thing:
After taking in all the sites, we only had 15 minutes to grab something for lunch, use the toilets, stop into the sweets shop (BECAUSE YOU KNOW I WON’T PASS A CANDY STORE WITHOUT GOING IN FOR A LITTLE SOMETHING), and get back to the bus. Deborah was VERY CLEAR about the fact that she would not tolerate tardiness, but we were running late. It was about 2 minutes till the time she wanted us back on the bus and I REALLY HAD TO PEE. The toilets were right next to the parking lot, so I ran in while Matt headed to the bus. I hate being late, and as I was power walking across the parking lot to the bus I saw Matt and Deborah sanding outside the door, like parents waiting up for a kid who just broke curfew.
FORTUNATELY, I was not the only toddling gosling. As Matt and I boarded, he told me that a man and his wife got separated and she didn’t come back to the bus on time. He had gone back to look for her. Five minutes after meeting time passed, then ten. Then fifteen. Deborah grew agitated. The guy finally came back, sans wife. He couldn’t find her, and she still hadn’t showed up. He asked Deborah to wait a little longer. He was pacing, upset. Deborah said, “we’re not waiting any longer.” She gathered their things and kicked him off the bus. He pleaded with her to wait a few more minutes. Then he tried to block the driver from shutting the bus door. She told him firmly to get away from the door. Then he tried to stand in front of the bus. Deborah commanded him to move, then told the driver, “bump him if you have to.” BUMP HIM IF YOU HAVE TO.
I told you. DEBORAH DOES NOT FUCK AROUND. Away we drove with the guy sanding in the middle of the parking lot, both hands on top of his head like WTF JUST HAPPENED. Then she turned to her remaining babies and said, “I thought fifteen minutes late was enough. Mama bear had to make a decision.”
Deborah’s Bus, Deborah’s Rules. Onward to Bath.