One of the enjoyable parts of traveling to countries with monarchies, is visiting the castles/palaces belonging to the sovereigns. With one of the oldest monarchies in Europe, the United Kingdom is replete with such tourist attractions. On this day, we had the pleasure of touring the 1000 year old Windsor castle. However, on our way to Windsor, folks resplendent in gowns, tails, and top hats, crossed our path as they were on their way to the races at Ascot (apparently it was the beginning of Ascot week). What a pleasant sight! Anyway, back to Windsor. Because of its strategic location on the Thames, the original castle was built in the 11th century following the Norman invasion of William the Conqueror. Since Henry I, succeeding monarchs have resided here, making it the longest-occupied palace in Europe. Reconstruction and expansion over the centuries have brought Windsor to its current size. During the bombings of World War II, the castle was the refuge for the royal family as its location is 25 miles outside of London. More than 500 people work and reside on the grounds. The state apartments are regularly used by Queen Elizabeth II as it is her preferred weekend home. While visiting Windsor, we actually saw Queen Elizabeth (this the third time in three weeks)as she left to go to the Ascot Races (strangely, she never invited us to stay in the Windsor apartments. It's not like she doesn't have the room. What a disappointment!). Interestingly, we learned that while the Queen and Royal Family traveled to Ascort in a caravan of Bentlys, just before their arrival, they leave their Bentlys and change to Royal horse-drawn carriages for a parade around the race track.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.