Top 5 Things to See in Windsor

Located in the heart of Berkshire, England’s royal county, is Windsor. It’s location is the royal county is appropriate considering it is home to Windsor Castle, which is one of the official residences of England’s royal family. The town dates back a millennium, originally bearing the name Windlesora as given by the Anglo-Saxons, though the name was changed to Old Windsor by the 12th century. When strolling through Windsor today, you can feel the history surrounding you though it has moved into the 21st century, incorporating modern shops and conveniences with historical buildings seamlessly. If you find yourself traveling to Windsor someday, here are the top five things you should be sure to see.

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Queen Elizabeth II on a phone booth in Windsor, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. Windsor Great Park

This large park is part of Windsor’s royal estate and was originally a used as private hunting ground for royalty. Over 5,000 acres large, the park also features a few notable historic buildings such as the Cumberland Lodge dating 1652, the Royal Lodge from 1662, and the Royal Chapel of All Saints built 1825. There are also the beautiful Savill and Valley Gardens, as well as an artificial lake titled the Virginia Water Lake. With all of these attractions and more, the park is a minefield of beauty and history that cannot be missed!

 

  1. The River Thames

Catch a glimpse of the Thames in Windsor and you’ll see a side of the river that you can’t view in London. Flanked by grassy banks and trees, and complete with small, rich islands, the Thames seems like a beautiful rural river in this setting- a stark contrast from the brown industrious river you see in Central London. If you take a boat tour with a guide, you can learn a lot about the history of the town and the surrounding lands from the unique vantage point of the water. And to top it all off, you get some amazing views of Windsor Castle.

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River Thames in Windsor, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. Crooked House of Windsor

Built in 1592, the Crooked House of Windsor has functioned as many things, including a tea house, a butcher shop, and a jewelry store. Though it’s unfortunately closed and for sale for the time being, it’s fascinating to see the building, which earns it’s name by it’s distinct slant. It will be exciting to see what this ancient building will function as next, but until then be sure to stop and admire it’s facade, and just try not to tilt your head!

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Crooked House of Windsor, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. St. George’s Chapel

Witness one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in all of England at St. George’s Chapel, on the Windsor Castle grounds. Having been established in 1348 and reportedly holding numerous relics, the chapel was a popular medieval pilgrimage destination. It has also been the site of countless royal weddings and burials, featuring the tomb of one of the most famous monarchs in world history, Henry VIII, as well as nine other sovereigns.

 

  1. Windsor Castle

The Norman castle from the 11th century that is now home to the royal family is the most popular tourist destination in Windsor, and many people visit the town for the sole purpose of coming here.  Like the Tower of London, Windsor Castle was built by William the Conquerer in 1066, and has been a royal residence ever since, making it the longest occupied castle in all of Europe! It’s comprised of multiple towers, a motte, a palace, state apartments, and more. Today it’s one of England’s biggest tourist attractions,and for good reason. The castle is jam packed with rich history and culture and can certainly not be missed on any trip to Windsor.

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View of Windsor Castle from the River Thames, 2014. c. Leah Putz

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Best Traditional Foods and Drinks in the United Kingdom

Sausage Roll

As someone who is not usually a fan of sausage, it’s weird that I swear by the United Kingdom’s sausage rolls. But I do. Typically found in bakeries and breakfast shops, sausage rolls are comprised of warm , melt-in-your-mouth pastry wrapped around a soft sausage. It’s savory, tender, and delicious and makes the perfect bite for breakfast or side for dinner.

 

Scotch Egg

Commonly a picnic food, the Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg coated in sausage meat and breading and then deep-fried. Regrettably I have yet to try this classic dish with origins in 1738, but I’ve been told it’s not something to miss!

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Me with my first glass of Pimms in the Kings Head pub in London, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Pimms

It’s Pimms o’clock! This refreshing summer beverage is perfect for a drink on a patio and enjoying the sunny weather that doesn’t often grace the United Kingdom. The drink is made with a unique combination: Pimms liqueur, lemonade, fruit (examples include strawberries, orange slices, lemon slices, and cucumber slices), and mint leaves. It’s my favorite alcoholic beverage I’ve ever had, and I highly suggest giving it a try. Even if you don’t make it to the U.K., it’s quite an easy drink to make at home!

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Meat Pie from Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn in Nottingham, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Meat Pie

Though immortalized in the legend of Sweeney Todd, you may not want to think about that story while digging in to your first meat pie. Meat pies are exactly as they sounds; savory pies filled with meat. It was a staple dish in the middle ages and it’s popularity has continued into the modern age, though I’m sure they probably taste a lot better today than they did 500 years ago!

 

Tea

Tea is a symbol of British culture worldwide. Having an afternoon tea meal has been a tradition since the 1800s. Though ‘afternoon tea’ is considered a meal mainly served between 3 and 6pm, many Brits choose to drink tea all day long, rather than only indulging once a day.

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Traditional Sunday roast in a London pub, 2017. c. Leah Putz

Sunday Roast

If traditional is what you’re after, you won’t find much that’s more traditional than a Sunday roast. A standard Sunday roast is comprised of yorkshire pudding, greens and vegetables, roasted meat, and gravy. It originated as an after church meal on Sundays and dates back to medieval times.

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Fish and Chips in Windsor, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips are synonymous with the United Kingdom, and for good reason. With hundred of coastal fishing villages, fresh fish easy to come by. The large piece of fish is traditionally fried and often served with homade tartar sauce and thick, savory chips (aka fries to Americans). You definitely can’t take a trip to the U.K. without trying this classic dish.

An Art-Lovers Guide to Minneapolis

When you think of artistic cities, Minnesota doesn’t usually come to mine. But maybe it should. Minnesota has a history of producing brilliant artistic minds such as Prince and Bob Dylan, and there are many places in the city of Minneapolis to see beautiful and famous works of art. Here are the Twin Cities’ top five places to see works of art and architecture!

 

  1. Basilica of Saint Mary

 

Reminiscent of the catholic cathedrals it’s modeled after, the Basilica of Saint Mary can’t be missed amongst the modern buildings of downtown Minneapolis. Built in the early 1900s, the building belongs to the National Register of Historic Places as it was the first basilica in the United States! Since the 1990s, an annual weekend music festival called the Basilica Block Party has been held at the Basilica.

 

  1. Cathedral of Saint Paul

 

Overlooking downtown St. Paul stands the magnificent Cathedral of Saint Paul. This Cathedral is one of the largest in the United States, and it is a signature of the St. Paul skyline. Though the current cathedral wasn’t open until 1915, a chapel has been at that location since the early 1800s when St. Paul was a small community known as ‘Pig’s Eye.’ The Cathedral itself is a beautiful work of art, complete with rose windows and a bronze baldachin over a statue of Saint Paul. There is also an exact replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Cathedral, so if you’re unable to make it to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, it may be easier to get to St. Paul to see the replica of one of the most famous and moving sculptures of all time.

 

  1. Walker Art Center

 

This modern art museum is home to many well known works of art, such as Andy Warhol’s 16 Jackies and one of my favorite paintings, Chuck Close’s Big Self-Portrait. It’s location near the Basilica of Saint Mary and the Sculpture Garden make it an ideal place to visit as you can see many different things in this one block area.

 

  1. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

 

Right next door to the Walker Art Center and the Basilica of Saint Mary sits the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Functioning as a sort of outdoor museum, the Sculpture Garden is home to countless famous works of art, the most well known being Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg, which located at the center of the garden.

 

  1. Minneapolis Institute of Art

 

My personal favorite on this list is the Minneapolis Institute of Art, locally known affectionately as the M.I.A.. One of the largest art museums in the country, I still have yet to see all it has to offer despite having been there countless times. The museum has a large collection of paintings, prints, and sculptures from all over the world and often features temporary special exhibits. Right now it is housing the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit until the end of May, which allows viewers to catch a glimpse into the brilliant director’s mind.

Schloss Heidelberg

Nestled into the hills of Western Germany sits the medieval town of Heidelberg. The town is home to Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg University, which was founded in 1386, and is a popular tourist destination as well. Tourist flock to the Altstadt (aka the Old town) to admire the baroque architecture, wander through the cobble-stoned streets, and see the imposing Heidelberg Castle.

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Me delighting in what I called a ‘Hobbit door’ in the Altstadt, 2013. c. Leah Putz

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View of Schloss Heidlelberg from the Altstadt, 2013. c. Leah Putz

For me, the castle was the main attraction. Heidelberg Castle is situation high on a bluff, overlooking the town, and has stood there since the 1200s. Throughout the hundreds of years it has existed, it’s been damaged and rebuilt many times by fire, weather, and war, but has ultimately stood the test of time.

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Powder Tower, destroyed in 1689 by the French, 2013. c. Leah Putz

The castle ruins are actually comprised of two different castles, the latter being an expansion built nearly a hundred years after the construction of the first castle. The joint castles were turned into a proper fortress in 1401, when King Ruprecht became king of Germany.

The view of Heidelberg Altstadt from the castle, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Due to the length of time the castle has stood and how often sections had to be rebuilt, there are varying forms of architecture that meld together beautiful. The castle maintains a cohesive look due to the various sections are all built using the same color stone, which gives it a unique red-toned look. Germany’s history is also displayed in the castle, as some of the main buildings in the interior have countless statues depicting many of Germany’s past kings and rulers.

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Wall of Schloss Heidelberg and statues of kings, 2013. c. Leah Putz

To this day, I think Heidelberg Castle is the most majestic structure I’ve had the pleasure of exploring. There is an overwhelming sense of beauty and history in this ancient structure, and if you find yourself in West Germany, I highly recommend making a stop in the captivating city of Heidelberg.

My Cardiff Top 5

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, was a only a small town until the 1800s, though its origins date back to Neolithic times. In the 19th century, the Cardiff port began to bustle and the city grew until it became the largest in Wales. Today, it’s known for it’s bustling metropolitan area, and it’s capacity to preserve Welsh culture. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cardiff, and have compiled a list of my top five places to go if you find yourself in this beautiful Welsh capital.

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Cardiff Central Square, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay the area surrounding the water fed by the two rivers in Cardiff. The area around the bay is beautiful, with many shops and restaurants nearby, and is a focal point for many events in Cardiff.

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Cardiff Bay, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

Cardiff Story Museum

The best way to get to know a city is to explore its history, especially a city with as long and rich a history as Cardiff. Thankfully, you can visit the Cardiff Story Museum to learn all about Cardiff through the ages, complete with numerous artifacts and objects to view.

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Wales Millennium Centre, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Wales Millennium Centre

Fans of BBC show Torchwood will recognize the Wales Millennium Centre. Comprised of multiple shops, restaurants, and arts centers, it’s the perfect place to stop and shop in the Cardiff Bay area as it also features the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre.

 

Bute Park

Once a part of the Cardiff Castle grounds, Bute Park is a whopping 130 acres of park and gardens. It was originally landscaped in the 17-1800s and sits near Cardiff Castle and along the River Taff. The park is dotted with sculptures, bridges, and immense natural beauty that is rare to find in the heart of a city.

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Sculpture on the street in Cardiff, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

Cardiff Castle

If you’re going just about anywhere in the UK your trip isn’t complete without a visit to  a castle, and Cardiff is no exception. The castle, which was built by the Normans in the 11th century, can be found in the city centre, along with a Victorian mansion. It’s not only a main attraction of the city of Cardiff, but of Wales as a country as well.  

Seattle: My Favorites

What immediately struck me about Washington is how green it is. I could even notice the difference from the plane before we landed; I spent the last 20 minutes or so of the flight admiring the evergreens from the window.  It was my first time on the west coast and I instantly had a good impression.

The lush landscape isn’t the only thing that struck me about the natural beauty of the Seattle area. Only about a half hour from the city sits the Snoqualmie Falls. The Falls, which are giant and surrounded by gardens and walking paths, are simply breathtaking. If you have some extra time and are staying in Seattle, I highly recommend taking a field trip out to Snoqualmie to enjoy seeing the Falls.

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Snoqualmie Falls, 2017. c. Leah Putz

However, there is plenty to see in the city as well! Obviously, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the Space Needle, which I saw from the highway as I was coming in to downtown Seattle. It was a particularly cloudy day, and apparently the view isn’t really worth the cost when you can’t see the mountains due to the clouds, so I was content to admire the Seattle staple from afar.

Rather than seeing the city from above in the Seattle, I decided to see it from below, and did a tour of the Seattle Underground. The thing I loved most about the Underground tour was how much history I learned. Going in, I didn’t really know anything at all about Seattle’s history, but the tour taught me all about it’s origins, the fire, it’s time as the ‘gateway to the Eukon’ and much more. The origins of the Underground begin with the Great Seattle Fire that destroyed much of downtown Seattle in 1889. The city was going to have to be rebuilt, and the citizens decided to rebuild the city higher than before to avoid many of the flooding problems they had been having. During the rebuilding process, the Underground was created at the level of the original streets and left open as a sort of underground shopping district before it was condemned in the 1920s, only to reopen in 1965 as a tourist attraction.

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View of a skylight from the Seattle Underground, 2017. c. Leah Putz

After coming up from Underground, my aunt, my cousin, and I began heading towards the famed Pike’s Place Market. The walk was only a few blocks, but we passed the Harbor Steps, the Seattle Art Museum, and many other amazing points of interest. The market was just as I’d imagined it- I got to see the workers throw fish, got the enjoy the fresh scent of the sea, and got to admire the beautiful yellow tulips that are planted all along the outside of the marketplace building.

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Pike’s Place Market, 2017. c. Leah Putz

Right across the street from Pike’s Place Market the first ever Starbucks still stands! The door has ‘1912’ painted on it which is a bit surreal, as well as the logo being uncensored. Considering how long the line was, I didn’t purchase a drink at this particular store, but I did grab a coffee at the airport on the way home to enjoy a Starbucks coffee on Starbucks’ home turf.

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My aunt and cousin outside of the first Starbucks, 2017. c. Leah Putz