Monday, April 29, 2013

SPRING BREAK! Part 2(b): London, cont.

Since Becca and I just did so much in London I broke it into two posts to make it easier to read. And here is the second one!!

On Day 4 of our London adventure was pretty laid back. We didn't have any predetermined plans for the day so we just decided what to do the night before. We woke up kind of late, which was nice, and decided to start our day by going to Crystal Palace to see some sculptures of Dinos (this was mostly for me....)We attempted for about an hour to find a way to get to Crystal Palace, since only one line goes there and its on a split off route. After trying for a very long time we decided to give up and go on to our next destination. Now that I think about it, it was probably difficult to get there because it was a Sunday and public transport doesn't run as regularly so....Anyway, the next stop on our list was Earl's Court. This was a pretty important stop because there is a legitimate Police Box there (right outside the subway stop for any fellow Whovians ever in the area). It had actually been in use and looked just like the TARDIS. Becca and I had found four around Glasgow but they were not nearly as pretty as this one and none of them looked quite right. A really nice lady passing by offered to take our picture without us asking and said she lives in the area and always sees a bunch of Whovians geeking out so she has to help the fandom out. After that we headed to Hyde Park to walk around, especially since it was a beautiful day. After walking around a lot of the park, we got some ice cream and enjoyed sitting by the lake. Our next stop was Buckingham Palace. We took a bunch of pictures and played spot the American to find someone to take one of the two of us. There were also some wedding pictures being taken, which thoroughly entertained us. Then we were off again to Parliament Square to take more pictures of Big Ben and the London Eye, especially since the last time we were there it was starting to get dark. We walked along the Thames for quite a while before deciding to get some dinner at a place called the Giraffe. We got some delicious burgers and smoothies to rest up before making the journey back to our hotel. Once we got back we attempted to work on the papers we had due a couple days after we got back, without much success, then headed to bed to prepare for a very long and exciting day.....

There were a lot of people and they would not move

Day 5 was probably the most exhausting and emotionally draining day we had while in London. This is because we were off to The Harry Potter Studio Tour. Our excitement levels were off the charts. Our entry time was a bright and early 10:30 to give us plenty of time to explore the self led tour. The website says it should only take you 1.5-3 hours but Becca and I blew that out of the water by spending a whopping 6.5 hours in the tour. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous, but not all of that was actual touring of the attraction, which I will get to in a second. The tour starts off with a really cute intro and then you are led into The Great Hall. Here is located a bunch of costumes and props that are used in the big scenes in the Great Hall. Unfortunately you don't have a whole bunch of time in there at once because the next group comes in but you can go back in once the next group has their grand entrance. You then move into a huge sound stage that houses a lot of the sets and props that are used in the movies. This area takes the most amount of time just because of the sheer amount of stuff packed in there. Becca and I also splurged for the special package deal that gave us an audio tour narrated by Tom Felton, which also included a lot of interviews and other behind the scenes information. This took us a lot of time to get through. I took so many pictures in this one area it was ridiculous. They also have places set up where you can ride in the car being chased by the Hogwarts Express, Fly on a broom, and practice your dueling. Even for a Monday there were quite a number of people there so it was difficult to move around at times. We then headed outside where we got some butterbeer and explores some of the larger/external sets like the Knight Bus, 4 Privet Drive, and the Hogwarts Bridge. It was really cool to be able to get so close to these props/and sets and we took a bunch of fun pictures. It was pretty cold out there so we got through our pictures and headed back inside to finish the tour. The next area had a lot about design in it. It included the make-up an animatronics/monter making department, as well as how they came up with the ideas for the sets. We also got to walk up Diagon Alley and saw the cherry on top of the whole experience, the model Hogwarts made for the sweeping external shots of the school. This thing is huge, and absolutely breathtaking in the amount of detail. As we entered this part a school group came in too, and my camera battery was dying. Because of this I went through the first room really quickly, then went back to read everything. Unfortunately, Becca did not see me behind her and went ahead. She then though that I was ahead of her and went even faster, while I thought she was possibly behind me, so I took my time. Becca then, for some unforsaken reason, decided that I would leave the tour without her, so she went into the gift shop, and therefore couldn't really come back in. I got to the Hogwarts model and thought that she could not have left the area without taking pictures of each other in front of it, or of us together. So I sat, and waited for a good hour. I tried calling and texting her, but she hadn't brought her UK phone and I didn't have wifi to message her iPod. Eventually, after going back and forth through the entire second building twice, a man working there stopped me and asked if I was looking for someone, I said I was and he called someone, and Becca was brought back in. We took some pictures then left together. We spent quite a bit of time in the gift shop, limiting what we could buy, got some food, then headed back to our hotel after a very draining day.

Day 6 was another long day. We got up pretty early again to head to Victoria Station to get on a bus for a tour of Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath. I knew that I wanted to go to Stonehenge and since its not that far from London, I figured there were some bus tours that would be going there. Turns out there are quite a bit. I then found this awesome one that included 3 great places all in one day and lunch. We boarded the bus and started our tour off with Windsor Castle, the largest continuously inhabited medieval-style castle. We were some of the first people there, which was really nice because there weren't any crowds. The weather kind of sucked but there is a lot of inside the castle you can explore which kept us dry and warm. Unfortunately, you can't take any pictures of the inside of the castle, but there sure is a lot to see. There is a huge dollhouse with miniature everything, including full plumbing and electricity, there was also a room dedicated to pictures of the Queen throughout her life, you can also walk through the estate rooms and see the several collections of china. The rooms were absolutely gorgeous and so impressive. There was so much to see, but unfortunately  Becca and I were running out of time before we had to meet our tour for lunch and we had to rush through he last part and the chapel on the property. We did catch the last of the changing of the guards before heading to the restaurant. We ate, then got back on the bus for the next stop, Stonehenge. I was pretty excited to see this important landmark, and it did not disappoint. The stones are absolutely gigantic. I was a little sad that we couldn't go closer, but I understand that they are trying to protect the landmark. By the time we made it around the henge, we were so cold and could barely feel our fingers. So back on the bus we went for our final stop, Bath. Bath is a gorgeous city where every building is made out of the same stone and is famous for its cathedral, history with the Romans, and supposed healing powers. We stopped in the Cathedral, which was absolutely gorgeous, then took a tour of the Roman Baths. It was really interesting to see how the Romans lived in the area during their occupation. It was also really cool to see the famous baths and taste the water, which was not the most pleasant. After exploring this, we were back on the bus to head back into London. It was a really nice day in that we got to see a bunch of cool stuff, but it sucked that we didn't have more time in each place. Becca and I headed back to our hotel to get some much needed rest, because we were off to Cardiff the next day.

Becca and I are buried right next to each other!!

I absolutely loved my time in London, and I cannot wait to go back this summer during my next study abroad adventure. I got to see so much and I am so lucky to have had Becca to explore with. The final portion of our spring break adventures will be detailed in my next post, which will be all about Cardiff!

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