UPDATE: We are now back in La Quinta. This is my last post from our trip to Europe.
Surrey, UK: The weather hasn't really improved, so we again chose an indoor experience for our outing today. Martin stayed home with a shower repair, so Shirley was our guide today. Hampton Court Palace is along the Thames River and was the main home of King Henry VIII... and his six wives, and then several more Kings and Queens.
The palace has been remodeled, torn down, added to, and embellished over the years. It is now three different-yet-attached square buildings with huge courtyards in the centers of each. To enter the palace, there is a walk way over a moat... but the moat is no longer filled with water. Only lawn, but it has a very cool gardener:
The first part of our self-guided tour was through the palace kitchens. Not only did cooks have to feed the royals and the court, they had to feed all the servants. The kitchens were huge.
The royal bedroom was next to a throne room, and there was yet another throne room before that throne room! It seems some subjects get to the first chamber, but "better" guests reach the inner throne room?
We could not figure-out what the two tall towers next to the fireplace could be? First we thought they may be candle holders, but they are tilted, so the wax would drip all over. Know we did? We asked one of the million people working in the palace. They hold tulip bulbs! Seems back in the day, tulips were very expensive and exotic. Having tulip bulbs in your
house palace was a symbol of wealth. (Isn't living in a palace a symbol of wealth?) There are thousands of tulip bulbs around the palace grounds that have bloomed every spring for eons.
There are also hundreds of massive tapestries hanging on every wall. When Henry VIII died, he owned over 800 tapestries. Needlepoint!
Since it wasn't (quite) raining, we went outdoors to see the gardens between the palace and the river.
Shirley took us to a green house that holds the World's Largest Grape Vine. (Really, there is a Guinness World Record plaque on the wall.) It grows a sweet grape used for eating, not wine making, but it was seriously pruned at the time of our visit.
Back at Shirley's house, they had another over-night guest. Luckily for us, someone who we also knew from our years in Taipei, so that was a treat for us. Shirley again cooked-up a feast, including a fancy meringue dessert.
The next morning we flew from Heathrow to Los Angeles, Lenny picked us up and we spent the next four days with the kids. Until my next update, I remain, your jet-lagged correspondent.
Pedometer: Only 9,000 steps.