London, take 3
So, because of the terrorist attack in Brussels, my mother and I changed our travel plans – 2 days before we left, which taught me a lot about booking things down to the wire! – and went to London instead of Brussels. This made it my third trip to London in a year – and the summer will make it 4th in about 1.5 years – but I love London, and so it’s never a downer to go to London. We had 3 days and 2 nights in London, and we tried to pack as much into those days as we could, which I think we succeeded in! 😉
We landed around 10am in the morning, and then we grabbed the underground to our hotel. At the stop that we got off at – which I did know the name beforehand, but it just didn’t ding for me until I actually walked out and saw it – was the Blue Police Box, or as we Whovians might call it, the Tardis.
That was a pretty amazing start to the trip, at least for me – my mom has no idea about Doctor Who, but she enjoyed how happy it made me – and after a couple dozen pics of this we headed to our hotel, dropped of our stuff and then made our way to the London Eye.
After the Eye, we headed to Covent Garden for dinner, which ended up being amazing fish and chips at “Fish & Chipper” – in Leicester Square, because someone lied and was all “oh just a short walk that way!” – which ended up being totally worth it, because they were amazing!
Then we headed to Mamma Mia back over past Covent Garden – whoo hoo, walking ;). My mother has always wanted to see a stage production of Mamma Mia, so much so that I actually tried to fit a one night stop to New York in this trip in it’s inception to have her be able to see it on Broadway. That ended up not being practical, and so when necessity changed our plans, I knew that we had to go see Mamma Mia in the West End, which I saw on my first London trip, and which is an amazing version of it, if you are ever in London and looking for a show.
Then, we started day 2 with a longish – mom thought it was long, but after 3 hour waits into Versailles and the Catacombs nothing will ever be long again 😉 – into the Natural History Museum.
Where we saw tons of cool fossils, mammal exhibits, gemstones:
And also where I panicked after losing my phone in the washroom – thankfully a good Samaritan returned it to security and didn’t steal anything, so thank you good samaritan!!! – and also bought some ‘light reading’ as a souvenir in the gift shop:
Then we made our way to the British Museum, where we also saw tons of cool stuff, including the Egyptian wing and the Rosetta stone:
After that, we headed to what I’ve decided to call “Disneyland for Me,” Platform 9 3/4.
I’d intended to go there in the summer, but this trip provided me the opportunity to growth mom, which I wanted to do. My mother isn’t into Harry Potter at all, but it was super fun to share my excitement with her, and that made her excited in the event. For people going to go there, there are 2 options for photos – you can go when the store is open, where there will be a line (we waited about 45 min or an hour), but there will also be a professional photographer, they will give you a scarf, help you pose and give you a wand, (you can take your own, or purchase the one they sell) and of course shop in the store. Or, you can go after hours where there is no line and just take as many photos as you want with the trolley. We went when it was open, and honestly, the line made it a great event – it was so cool to share in all the excitement of the people around us. Let’s face it, Platform 9 3/4 is just half a trolley going into a wall – the excitement is from pretending to go to Hogwarts, and watching everyone from olden men to little one children pose with the wand and the trolley really made it an event, rather than just a ‘well, there’s the trolley I guess,’ kind of thing.
You get to pick your house scarf – Ravenclaw forever 😉 – but the photographer was clearly a Slytherin because she cheered on every Slytherin 🙂
Also, this guy had the greatest job ever – professional ‘scarf tosser.’ They take 2 photos – one with you pointing a wand and looking over your shoulder and one jumping, and in both, the gentleman in the vest tosses your scarf so it looks like it is fluttering in the wind. He was so nice, and it is actually the best job ever; seriously, if I didn’t owe too much to switch careers I’d consider it 😉
The store is also fantastic, where you can buy everything from Bertie Botts Every flavoured beans, the scarves you wear in the picture – definitely bought the Ravenclaw one, and it is a super nice scarf, Scottish wool and everything – tickets to Hogwarts and much more.
…I bought a lot of stuff…
My mother said that she hadn’t seen my in the throws of such ‘childlike joy’ since I was an actual child and believed in Santa, which is pretty much accurate. Harry Potter is the book series of my childhood and youth, and the magic of pretending to go for a couple hours was truly magically for me. I cannot wait for the studio tour and Universal Studios Japan in the summer!
The next morning – Dawn of the Final Day, if you will 😉 – we went to Madame Tussauds, which neither of us had been to before, and honestly, we had an amazing time!
Madame Tussauds London has tons of exhibits, and the wax figures are super cool and you can pose with them. They also had a special Star Wars exhibit which was fab, and a little 5 minute train/tame rollercoaster ‘history of London exhibit ride’ which was super fun, and a 10 minute 4D Marvel Cartoon with water and air sprays. For what we paid for it – 20 pounds I believe – it was a ton of entertainment and I do recommend it if you’ve got a couple hours in London, especially if it’s a rainy day. Do be there for when it opens and buy tickets ahead of time though, because the lines can be nuts.
And then there was Star Wars:
You can bet I got ones with the Han Solo Staute, Vader and Princess Leia, as well as BB8:
Madame Tussauds is also right down the street from another geek London Landmark: 221B Baker Street, or the home of everyone’s favourite consulting detective:
We didn’t actually go into the museum, just the gift shop, where I got my dad a Sherlock Holmes toy solider, and then we went to Trafalgar Square where Canada House is and the National Art Gallery.
Canada House was unfortunately closed because we were there on Easter Monday, and so after that we took a quick detour to Piccadilly Circus:
Then, because my mom wanted to take a double decker bus ride and I wanted to see Speaker’s Corner we did just that and took the bus to Hyde Park and Speakers Corner, where a guy gave a sermon about prostitutes and gestured at my mother, which was kind of hilarious 😉
My mother was unimpressed – it is sort of by the field part of Hyde Park – but I find speakers corner, where people come and stand on their literal soap box and get to preach about whatever they want – often as crazily as possible – is kind of both fantastic for free speech, and also unintentional hilarity.
Then we made our way through the Park to Kensington Palace:
Where we saw giant horse head – I have no idea either – and a man who was feeding squirrels off his leg – he does not have the natural fear of squirrels I we wise people have 😉
After that, we made our way back to the hotel, checked out, and headed to King’s Cross again to catch the train to Paris through the chunnel, which is definitely the way to go from London to Paris if you’re thinking of making the trip.
Overall, London continues to be an amazing destination, and is always a joy to visit. Additionally, this trip was the first trip I had made with someone, and it’s an experience I really enjoyed. It was so fun to share all of these experiences with someone, even just waiting in the Potter line, and although most of my travel will probably continue to be solo, I’m definitely going to be open to traveling more with people – I’ve promised my sister a trip, and taking my dad to San Fransisco or New York would be a lot of fun.
Also, if you think this post was long, wait until the Paris one, where we were there for twice as many days!