What up, playaz.
Just hit 25 followers on this blog, and only 5 of those are my family! So it occurred to me that since those of you who I don’t know aren’t my Facebook friends, you wouldn’t have even known that I went to London or seen all my pictures. Though it is slightly retroactive (by a month), I intend to fill you in on my latest travels, and provide a personal narrative to the pictures for those who have seen them.
I took the train to Paddington Station on December 17th. I was nervous as I had never taken the train by myself before, and then I had to take the tube to Heathrow Airport to meet my fiancé, Kenny. (It is worth noting that I never made the connection between Paddington Bear and London until this day.) After a joyous reunion, we took the tube to King’s Cross as our hotel was nearby. We got dinner at Nando’s outside of the station (our first Nando’s experience!). End of day one.
The next day, I got the biggest surprise ever. Kenny got us tickets to the Harry Potter studio tour at Warner Brothers studio, just outside of London! I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t been, but it was straight up incredible. I was so thrilled I almost cried. When you arrive, the actual chessmen from the first movie are outside and you can touch them! Then when you walk in, there are pictures of the cast on the walls, from when they were really little through to the final movie. So emotional. Then you see the cupboard under the stairs, the perfect beginning. After that you watch an orientation movie narrated by Daniel Radcliffe, and after that…well I don’t want to ruin it for you 😉
After just under three hours there, we quickly purchased souvenirs and then taxied back to the overground station and then took that into London, because we had tickets to see Wicked! I have always wanted to see Wicked as soon as I first learned about it, and seeing it in London?? Incredible. It was absolutely magical and fantastic. When that was over, we wandered around London and popped into some shops. End of day two.
Day three started with the Natural History Museum! Always one of my favorite things, this one did not fail to impress. It was an incredibly beautiful building, and my favorite part had to be their Diplodocus skeleton in the main hall, nicknamed “Dippy.” They even had a book about Dippy, and I had to buy it because I had never found a book about my favorite dinosaur before. They even had Darwin’s finches and THE Archaeopteryx, which basically blew my mind. Those are things you only read about in textbooks! And to see the finches that inspired “On the Origin of Species,” which came to form our modern theory of evolution through natural selection, was awe-inspiring. We then got lunch nearby in a wonderful little restaurant called Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I believe it was also this day when we got cupcakes for breakfast in the tube station, yummmmm those were so delicious!
After that, we headed to Hyde Park for Winter Wonderland! It was so much fun. There was a Christmas market and tons of rides. We got mulled wine and drank it on a carousel bar! Best idea ever, though probably not when you’re drunk. Since Buckingham Palace is nearby, we walked over there to see it at night. But because it was night, no guys in big fuzzy hats 😦 Next time I’m in London, hopefully I’ll get to see them! End of day three.
To begin the next day, we walked to the apartment that is modified to be 221B Baker Street in BBC’s Sherlock…and we ate breakfast in Speedy’s Cafe!! Seriously a dream come true for this girl, as I am completely and hopelessly SHERLOCKED. Then we had to go to the actual 221B Baker Street, which has been made into a Sherlock Holmes museum. Loved it!! I was totally fangirling this entire morning. Next was a bus tour, which was awesome in that we got to see a ton of things all in a shorter period of time than it would take for us to walk, and all from inside a nice warm bus 🙂 We saw Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Big Ben! You could hop off and back on at any point, so we then got off the bus at one of the stops to go to the British Museum.
How was the British Museum, you ask? In one word, brilliant (as the Brits would say). My favorite part had to be the Rosetta Stone, because that is something we all have heard of, so to see it in person just felt like such a heavy moment. To see the artifact that allowed us to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics…I mean, that is something I had just taken for granted my whole life. But to see something so influential in person was beyond words. I was also amazed by the naturally mummified bodies they have there, which I had again only read about in books! And my other item in the top three has to be the Easter Island head. Malorie the archaeologist was seriously geeking out!! We weren’t supposed to spend much time there so we could see other things that day, so we tried to follow the track in the little pamphlet that tells you how to hit all the rare/important stuff in an hour…well it ended up being closer to three. Kenny should know that for me, museums exist outside of the restraints of time!
As it was dark by the time we left the museum, we headed back to Trafalgar Square to wander around and get dinner. We ended up eating at Pret-A-Manger, which was a funny story in itself. We had keep seeing them everywhere in London, so we figured it must be a popular chain and we decided to try it. As we were walking there, feeling cold and miserable, we notice it says “healthy, organic food” on the glass and we both groaned, “Noooooo!” haha we are such fatties sometimes. But when we went inside the food didn’t look too weird, so we ended up eating there. After that, wandered around the area and saw some cavalry guards in tassled hats. That made up for not seeing the guards outside Buckingham Palace. Then one of my favorite parts of the trip, the London Eye. Seeing London lit up at night, especially with the extra decorations for Christmas, was breathtaking. I only wish we could have stayed on longer than a half hour! We took the tube back to King’s Cross Station, where we got the obligatory picture running through to Platform 9 and 3/4. It was surprisingly busy for midnight! Perfect end to day four.
The last day in London, we headed first to the Royal College of Surgeons to visit the Hunterian Museum. You unfortunately could not take photos in there, but it was such a fascinating place. I’d suggest searching Google Images because some of the images from their website come up there. Basically a ton of cool stuff having to do with mainly the human body but also some animals. It ranged from crazy diseases and bullet-shot wounds in craniums to the “Irish Giant!” It was right up my alley of interest with all the pathological specimens, and now you can actually see some of their specimens on the new Digitised Diseases website.
It was raining when we left, so we hopped back on one of the tour buses (it was a 48-hour bus pass) and saw some more sights like the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We also saw where the Great Fire of London supposedly started, and a lawn where one of Shakespeare’s plays was performed for the first time! We ended that day by going to the London Dungeon attraction, which was somewhat scary but very fun! It went through various “dark times” in London’s history, from the beheading of Anne Boleyn to the Gunpowder plot, the plague, Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, and a 19th century courtroom where we all got convicted and sentenced to be hanged, which was a drop ride at the end. I know this was just a tourist attraction, (and the Sweeney Todd bit is fictitious), but it amazes me how much history there is just in this one city! We headed back to King’s Cross and got dinner at an Italian restaurant near our hotel. And alas, day five drew to a close and we boarded the train back to Exeter.
It was truly an incredible trip, and now as I type this out it is crazy to me how much we were able to see and do in that amount of time! It is also worth noting that we ended each day with going to McDonald’s for a late-night snack, which always included a Crunchie McFlurry. Those are so delicious it’s ridiculous. America needs to get the UK McDonald’s menu! In all seriousness, though, I loved our time spent in London and would love love love to go back.
More updates soon,