The Long Walk at Windsor Great Park (Plus Dashing Eton Boys!)

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Yesterday, while cycling through Windsor and Eton (including Dorney Lake, where the Eton boys row), I came upon one of the most evocative, beautiful foggy views in all of England - The Long Walk at Windsor Great Park, a 2.62 mile long path from Snow Hill to the gates of the castle.

Windsor and Eton is such an easy day trip from London, and a very cute town - exactly what you think an English town will look like. The castle looms over it all, as Queen Elizabeth II's favorite weekend escape.They are the House of Windsor, after all.

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Windsor CastleWindsor CastleAnd if you want to stay overnight somewhere? I LOVE Coworth Park, which I visited a couple years ago, just 15 minutes from Windsor.

Windsor Great Park is an absolutely stunning place to cycle or walk. I am cycling on an itinerary created by The Carter Company, a truly awesome family-owned English company, and they have completely amazed me with their insider-y cycling routes.

Plus, because I used to seriously have a crush on Prince William when he had hair (THAT YM cover here...), it was thrilling to see Eton College and some of those dashing boys wearing the famous tails. They looked SO YOUNG and too cute.

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Eton boys in their tailsEton College EntranceThe town of Windsor

The Orient-Express to Sandringham

SandringhamEvery once in a while, there are days when I travel that I'd like to wake up and repeat the whole thing again because it was just so magical. In England, it was the day I boarded the Orient-Express British Pullman train to Sandringham, the Queen's country estate in Norfolk and where they spend Christmas every year. They open presents on Christmas Eve, walk to church on the estate on Christmas morning (and crowds line up to see them), and spend a lot of time mucking about their gorgeous grounds and gardens. It was a big deal when Kate married William and she went to Sandringham for the first time (last year, they decided to spend Christmas at the Middletons which was a surprise to royal watchers).

My favorite viewIf I did this day again, I'd have it be a wee bit cooler. It was during London's heat wave, and the train isn't air conditioned. But still, it was an extraordinary day. You board the train in London and it takes about two hours to actually get out of London because the train is so long and they have to switch tracks. But I didn't care - I was enjoying my orange juice, scrambled eggs, and smoked salmon with lovely company. Soon you're whizzing up to Norfolk.

Checking in at London VictoriaGetting ready to boardI could sit here awhileBrunch on the trainI'm still glad things can take my breath away and the first view of Sandringham did. It was so recognizable from all the pictures I'd seen but yet better than I could have pictured it. The house is so homey with flat-screen TV's are hidden in old-style furniture and a huge fireplace in the main Saloon. The heat outside didn't help but I still could picture a blustery, snowy day with all the royals dressed for the holiday. The women have to be ready - Kate had to change five times on Christmas day alone.

First glimpse through the treesI went through the house three times - the first time it was too crowded. And each time I went, I got new info from all the guides stationed in each room. There's a decent museum near the house, and a great gift shop and garden shop.

When I realized I had half an hour to spare, and I had wandered around the lakes, I found a huge, shaded tree, put my phone away and gazed at the house (munching on pretzels I might add). Thirty minutes well spent in the English countryside, without any distractions. Bliss!

My treeSandringham LakesWalking to the churchChurch of St. Mary MagdaleneOrient-Express is running this day trip three times in 2014 - book it this year or add it to your list of must-do's in England. It's iconic and a wonderful day trip from London. Check out my other favorite royal day trips here on my National Geographic blog.

Cheese course on the train back to London

Ridiculously In Love With London

Primrose HillI could live in London. I'm sorry New York. I'm having an affair. I am ridiculously in love with London and always have been. So I don't ever want to waste a single second. I arrived at 6:30 a.m. yesterday, zipped through customs with my carry-on, and got to the Royal Garden Hotel a stone's throw from Kensington Palace. My room was ready (unheard of!) so I dumped my stuff and was thrilled to see a view of the palace and front-row seats to the helicopters landing and taking off. This is where the Royal Baby will come home to after Kate spends time with her family in Bucklebury.

I wanted to see some areas I hadn't seen before, but also wanted to catch the Coronation! exhibit at Westminster Abbey. Here's my day broken down:

  • Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and great people watching at the grand Delaunay
  • Westminster Abbey was a madhouse but I did see the small exhibit of Coronation photos
  • Tube to North London, where I wandered the quieter areas of Hampstead, Belsize Park, and Primrose Hill for an amazing view of London
  • Popped over to the crazy Camden Market & somehow skipped getting a tattoo or piercing. Saw the original British Boot Company, where Doc Martens came from
  • Walk over to St. John's Wood. Wandered in Panzer's Delicatessen and shopped the sale at Whistles on the high street.
  • Are you tired yet? Somehow, I wasn't...yet. I went to Notting Hill and grabbed a couple of spicy, delicious tacos at Taqueria & looked over the (mostly) junk on Portobello Road.
  • Shower. Decide I want to do the hour walk to welcome dinner at The Goring Hotel and wander my favorite areas of South Kensington and Chelsea. Stopped for a juice at Zefi on Walton Street and drooled over baby room artwork at Dragons of Walton Street (Royal Baby nursery designers).

My travel days are normally not THIS packed but sometimes I want to do a giant, quick overview of certain areas. And I fell even more in love. Luckily I have much more time here this week and can take it slower. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where I try and post different things to all accounts. Have a lovely weekend everyone!