I knew very little about what I wanted to do in London. When you travel someplace like Paris or Rome, your itinerary seems to be mapped out for you. Of course, when visiting Paris you have to go see the Eiffel Tower, and you have to go to the Louvre and then walk down the champs d’elysee to the Arc de Triumph. London is a totally different animal. There is simply too much to do and we had far to little time.
We left early on Friday morning. The plan was to fly to Stansted, take the standsted express to London, and then jump on the underground to our Airbnb. All went as planned and we soon found ourselves in our adorable little flat (after getting lost and making an unnecessary circle). We immediately made way for our scheduled Harry Potter tour. The meeting space was in Leicester Square and from there we saw different parts of London that inspired Godric’s Hollow, Gringotts, and Diagon Alley; however, we couldn’t depart on our tour until we got the chance to take some pictures with these impressive lego masterpieces. Aren’t we adorable?
The tour absolutely brought me back to my younger days. You see, Harry Potter was a HUGE part of my life growing up. I was entranced by the idea of a young wizard conquering the evil Lord Voldemort AND I read each and every one of the books (multiple times) with a remarkable amount of curiosity. For those of you who don’t know, the strange looking one who accompanied me on my travels to London is my “best friend” Helen. She and I have known each other for next to forever. In grade school, Helen and I weren’t too fond of each other. Apparently, I was too ‘clingy,’ whatever that means. Anyway, we eventually came to appreciate each other and even like each other. Harry Potter was originally one of the items that we bonded over. We would talk for long-hours about the books and would accompany each other to the midnight showings. We bonded over our common fondness for the infamous Severus Snape and the just as strong obsession with the actor who played Snape, Alan Rickman. In all actuality, kidding aside, Helen is one of my absolute best friends, and even though we can drive each other a bit kooky, there is no one I would have preferred go on this journey with.
After our HP tour, we went to a TKTS booth and bought tickets to see Kinky Boots. We stopped for delicious beef & ale pie and “chips” (which are actually fries) before departing for our show. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Honestly, the most enjoyable show I have ever had the privilege to enjoy. Upon entering the theatre, I was a bit concerned. It was a bit dingy and old. It wasn’t what I was used to experiencing at the theatre’s in Playhouse Square back in Cleveland; however, the talent was exceptional and anyone who has the opportunity to see it needs to take it.
After the show, we made our way back to our flat so we could get a good nights rest for the next day.
First on our list of to does was to check out Baker Street. Helen is a bit of a Sherlock Holmes freak. We searched and searched and searched without any luck. Fortunately, we eventually bumped into Baker Street 211b. Unfortunately, it was quite a disappointment. We thought that we would be able to take a photo in front of the door. That was not the case considering there was a line wrapping around the corner for a couple blocks. Oh well… I still got a cute photo of Helen with the Sherlock Holmes statue.
Our next stop was too…… KING’S CROSS STATION TO SEE PLATFORM 9 3/4. Look at these adorable photos of us! We were completely geeking out.
After leaving King’s Cross we left for the British Museum. I loved getting the opportunity to see the Rosetta Stone. Helen and I had decided to split up because we had different pieces that we each wanted to visit. We agreed to meet at the gift shop at 3:30pm. After I had gone through my self-guided tour I wasn’t feeling to well. I got sick which isn’t too uncommon when I travel. You learn to deal with it. So, I found a restroom and then parked myself on a couch that was in a waiting room. My intention was to sit for a few minutes to recover. I ended up falling asleep. I woke up in a panic, worrying that I had missed our meeting time. Luckily it was only 3:35. I RAN UP THE STAIRS IN AN ABSOLUTE PANIC. We only have Italian numbers, so we had no way to contact each other via phone. I made circles around the gift shop with no luck. I decided to sit right in front of the entrance to prevent Helen from walking out without me. Twenty minutes later, and after lots of panicking, Helen found me. She had went to the wrong gift store. BOOOO HELEN! But, all things turned out right.
Helen and I were walking to a metro when we found a tea room. We couldn’t resist. We just had to stop. We enjoyed Victoria sponge Cake and DELICIOUS earl grey tea. It was probably the highlight of my entire trip. We enjoyed some finger sandwiches and some delightful scones all while sipping our BRITISH tea. What an awesome experience.
The rest of our day was spent at Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the British eye. It was absolutely surreal and I was elated to get this photo with the statue of Winston Churchill.
Honestly, I’ve had more opportunity than most to travel, but I’ve always had to follow people around. I’ve never really had to figure things out on my own when traveling and the opportunity is elating. I’ve managed to get myself around Rome, Paris, and London. Perhaps my favorite thing to do is to go out and explore on my own. If I can do this, I feel as though I can do anything.
Now, time for me to connect this trip to what we have been studying. When reading the Harry Potter books one can see pieces of real life paralleled in the magical world of Hogwarts. For example, a wicked villain trying to “purify” a species, muggles, unmagical beings who are unaccepted because of who they are, death eaters, a group that wants to exterminate muggles. Does this sound familiar at all? I can’t help but think that perhaps JK Rowling might have gotten some of her inspiration from the tragic events that plagued the world in the 1930s and 40s. The real message of the book is that the most powerful thing in the world is something that many of us take for granted: love. The truth is, love can exist in many different forms and the sort of love that I think we should especially try to nourish is that for humanity. If we all cared a little more for each other, than perhaps we wouldn’t have the struggles that we do. Regardless of your political affiliations, maybe we need to take a page out of JK Rowlings book and choose love before all else.
London was incredible and I surely am looking forward to getting a chance to come back. Two days is simply not enough. Our final day was somewhat ridiculous. We took the tube to Liverpool Station, the express to Stansted Airport, our flight was delayed for two hours, once we finally got back to Rome we had to take a bus back to Termini, and from there we had to wait two hours to grab a train back to campus. It was a long day.
UNTIL NEXT TIME!