London Through The Lens

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Harry Potter Studios

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As soon as we booked our flight to London I knew there was one attraction I had to see… Harry Potter Studios.

I bought my tickets about a month in advance online and I’m glad I did. I would even recommend purchasing them sooner! There were only a few time slots left and so we got 5:30pm tickets.

The studios website has instructions on everything you need to know and they were my main resource for everything. They even have great instructions on how to get from downtown London to the studios which  are in a suburb called Watford. Now, I am usually someone who believes if I’m not 5 minutes early I’m late. We left our hotel with ample time, so I thought, but when we arrived at the train station we just barely missed our train. Luckily there are trains leaving all the time for Watford. The problem is the train would get us in 5 minutes after the time we were supposed to arrive and then we still would have to take the bus to the studios. Needless to say I was panicking. Turns out the time they give you is very loose. We arrived 15-20 minutes late and no one even batted an eye at our time slot. We just got in the general line and had the same experience we would’ve had if we had gotten there quicker.

The bus from Watford Junction to the studios costs 2pounds round trip and takes you directly to the studios. Make sure to keep your receipt as they check that when letting you on to take you back to the train station.

The tour is amazing for any Harry Potter fan. You start by watching a quick intro video and then your guide asks for a volunteer. No one said anything so I quickly offered not knowing what I was getting myself in to. Turned out that I got to be the one to open the doors to Hogwarts! When the doors open you walk immediately in to the great hall.

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The imitation food is layed out on the tables and some professors and even Dumbledoor stand at the front of the room. You have a few minutes to explore and take pictures before they have you move on. Once outside of the great hall you can go through at your own pace. There is so much there it is unbelievable. About half way through there’s a little cafeteria with snacks and butterbeer to purchase. You will see thousands of Harry Potter artifacts and be able to geek out over them with fellow fans. I was worried about how packed it would be but really it wasn’t bad. Your final stop is the gift shop where you can buy anything Harry Potter. I did notice the items here were cheaper than the shop at Kings Cross Station. So if you see something you like get it!

As a Harry Potter fan you will not be disappointed visiting the studios!

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The Tube

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I just need to express my feelings about The Tube in London…

I love it.

I could stop there but I will explain. I have mastered  the Chicago L and the New York Subway and with only 3 days in London I feel confident I have mastered the Tube. Thank you London for making an amazingly easy subways system!

If you are intimidated by public transportation don’t be worried about getting around London. The Tube is clearly labeled. You know exactly where to go to catch the subway you need. Each stop is clearly labeled and if it’s near a major attraction it will be obvious. It is clean and feels safe at all hours.

I LOVE THE TUBE!

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Two Days in London

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I know, two days is just not enough to see London, but we had no other choice. I was excited nonetheless to see this iconic city. We arrived early Saturday morning and wanted to hit the ground running. It was extremely easy to take the train from Heathrow to London and then the tube to our hotel. We dropped our bags off at the Days Hotel Waterloo, and set out.

Our first stop was Parliament and Big Ben. I was so excited to walk around the corner and see this classic shot.

After taking in the views we walked past Westminster Abbey and wandered until we found a cute breakfast spot.

Once we were full we head out again. We hopped on the tube and went to St. Pauls. A friend had recommended it and so we decided why not check it out. At first we were apprehensive about paying the 18 euro to get in, but ultimately decided to just do it. To our delight this included access to the upper levels.

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The climb to the top was a long but fun one. There are several stopping points but my favorite is when you come to a little hole in the ground and when you look in it you realize you are looking directly down to the center of the cathedral and the people down there look incredibly tiny.

IMG_0900 If you climb to the top you get amazing views not only of the inside of the Cathedral but outside of London as well. It was definitely worth the price.

When we finished up there we had to get back to our hotel check in shower up and change because we had tickets to Harry Potter Studios!

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I’ll do another post on HP Studios but for now just know that if you are a HP fan… it’s a must.

After being awake for over 24 hours and non-stop walking we finally hit our beds and had an amazing nights sleep. The next morning we awoke and hit the ground running. We first went to the Camden Market.

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Please make sure to go here when you are hungry. There are some amazing food stands!

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We ate our way through the market and watched the locks for awhile. Once we were satisfied we headed to our next stop.

My friends had posted about the new art installation in Covent Garden so we decided to go see it. I didn’t realize it was a 100,000 balloon art piece! It was gorgeous. So many white balloons that would twinkle with light.

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We also happened upon string quintet who were extremely entertaining and talented. After listening to their music and watching them harass people on cell phones we decided to grab a bite at a restaurant there in the garden and enjoyed some delicious pizza and gelato.

It had been a long fun filled day but with only two days in London we weren’t done. Next we went to the Tower of London and walked around to see the bridge. Right at 6pm we met a Jack the Ripper walking tour which I had been looking forward to for awhile.

With the tour we got the full story on Jack the Ripper and the theory behind who he was and why the police hadn’t made the story public. We got to see some different streets in London we wouldn’t have found ourselves. It was a great time.

Once done with that we hit the sack in order to get up early the next morning to see a few more things before flying out.

We woke early and headed to Hyde Park. Unfortunately, it was a bit rainy so we didn’t stay long. We then made our way to Buckingham Palace where we watched the guards for awhile and took photos. At that point it was time to head back and catch our flight.

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We loved London! We can’t wait to go back to see everything we missed. What’s your favorite part about London?