London – The Land of All Things Harry Potter…
(For more photos, click through the slideshow at the bottom of this post)
Holy whirlwind of emotions batman. It was so weird when I finally left my apartment for this trip with nothing but my backpack, knowing I wouldn’t be back for a month and a half. I fell asleep on the flight over, and woke up just as we landed… and then I had a mental freak out.
It just hit me that I was on my own. No one was meeting me at the airport. I had nothing scheduled for the next MONTH AND A HALF and no one to keep me company. I don’t know why this anxiety decided to kick in when I landed, but it did. To get through this initial freak out, I had to focus on what I needed to do to get to my hostel.
- Step 1: get British pounds out.
- Step 2: buy Oyster card.
- Step 3: find hostel without getting lost.
I was pretty happy when I successfully completed these steps, but then you’re like – now what? Again, you’re ON YOUR OWN and you have all this time to fill. So I made the obvious choice of heading to King’s Cross Station to have my picture taken at Platform 9 3/4. An excellent way to start my visit to London.
But for the first two days my emotions were all over the place. One minute I was having the time of my life, and the next I’d be sad that I had no one to share it with. As I met people and started to visit some amazing places, I settled into things. I spent an awesome night at a bar/cafe where myself and another person from my hostel drank Pimm’s (some type of British alcohol) and played an ancient version of Scrabble with two locals. I spent an entire afternoon wandering the Tower of London because I found the history so mind-blowing. I met my second cousins who live, literally, on a barge on the Thames. And I visited Leavesden Studios where all eight of the Harry Potter movies were filmed, and nearly passed out from excitement.
I find the best thing to do is to plan my days. For example, one day I planned to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral in the morning and do a walking tour in the afternoon. I’m happier when I’m busy, because I get a little lonely when I have large stretches of time and I don’t know what to do (this often happens at night, when attractions and museums close).
It’s funny the places you meet people. I met a couple from New York when I was eating in Covent Garden. On the London Eye, a family of four asked me to take their picture, and it turned out they were from Ottawa.
One downside to London: it really does rain a lot here. It’s rained every day, although never for the whole day, just on-and-off. I got really excited when I got to walk around and take pictures in the sun one morning.
THE TOWER OF LONDON: give yourself LOTS of time. Do a beefeater tour (free with admission) and don’t forget to marvel at the Crown jewels.
COVENT GARDEN: Ended up here twice. Great area to wander around as there’s always live music in the courtyards. Buy some delicious food from one of the many stalls or open-air restaurants.
ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL: Go on a sunny day and climb all 528 steps to the uppermost dome for a breathtaking view of the city
HARRY POTTER WARNER BROS STUDIO TOUR: A must. See the sets and costumes from the Harry Potter movies. Take 100+ pictures.
NEXT STOP: Paris, France!