A LETTER FROM HOGWARTS, EVACUATION AND ITALIAN CHEESE
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At a first sight, the thigs listed above have probably that much in common as I have with Kim Kardashian. But if I think twice, we share something else besides height and big butt (mine still being quite smaller) – we share a selfie, where I try to more or less successfully imitate Donald the Duck. And I sure do hope, these are the only things we have in common 😉
Of course selfie happened “only” with the wax version of her in the Madame Tussauds in London where for around 30€ you can pose together with movie stars, politicians and other famous people and in the end you take a ride with a train (like in amusement park) through historic milestones of London history and shortly after end up in a gift shop. Overall impression? Meeh. :/ I guess I wasn’t that impressed by wax version of Pitt, Trump or royal family in comparison to other sights in London. But since there weren’t any queues (some talk about 3hour-waiting-line) there wasn’t much to regret besides overpriced experience. I guess it is something you are supposed to see when in London 😛 But if you are on a short visit I’d recommend to spend your time somewhere else.
When we settled down in apartment we had found on Airbnb (and was conveniently next to Victoria station) we spent first afternoon and evening mostly wandering around main sights. I’ve been in London before once, but only for a day, so I guess I can say I’ve seen next to nothing. We have checked if Mother Queen is at home (and waited in vain for an invitation to a cup of tea), tried to take compulsory selfies with friendly squirrels, horses at Horse Guards, and mighty Westminster Abbey and took a look on a Big Ben (didn’t see much since it was wrapped all around due to maintenance) and London Eye (which was also, you won’t guess, closed due do maintenance). Since we heard Soho is the “district to be” in the evening we headed there as well and by the Trafalgar Square popped over National Portrait Gallery to see the Tudors and some other rather famous portraits. My favorite there is portrait of Elizabeth I who was in my opinion quite a great woman, especially for those ages, when ruling was mainly reserved for men. In Soho meanwhile, we almost “died of thirst” because approximately zillion people decided to go to a pub that night so everything was full and our legs too tired to stand. When we almost gave up on a mission, we found a little no-name pub in a quiet street, half empty. It is true, that this was maybe due to mortally drunk teenager next to our table who yelled constantly and swore like and old soldier and it is true this was not the best “porter” in the world but still – there was beer at the end of the day 🙂
Next day we were about to go…on a Hogwarts Express! 🙂 To every Harry Potter fan out there who is at least as half obsessed as I am – I cannot recommend enough to see Warner Bros Studios in London where the movies were shot. This was actually our main reason why we went to London since I have been complaining that I do not understand why I’ve never got a letter from Hogwarts, none of my friends were vampire slayers and I’ve never found Narnia in my wardrobe. So, when I recently turned 30 I found a letter under the door, you know, that “old looking” kind, with seal and everything. Honestly, I didn’t have a slightest cue what is in it and I waved at Bojan with it, saying “ Hahaha, what are you up to now, this looks a like a letter from Hogwarts :D” No need to say that upon opening it my mouth opened widely and tongue rolled out to the floor like in a cartoon and I guess I probably lost the ability to speak for a few seconds before I started to hop around like a rabbit on an ecstasy. 😛 They say who wait the one gets – and even if it is when you turn 30 – who cares? 😀 Actually idea was of course Bojan’s, my bro prepared the content of the letter and a person who does calligraphy in free time wrote it. And unfortunately I had to flew in London in a boring “airplane” way (or at least that’s what you say to muggles, because broomstick would be suspicious 😉 . Nevertheless, it was the best possible gift. You can read more about our visit here.
You know what is good about London? That even though is an expensive city, a lot of sights are free of charge 🙂 Woooho! So we spent a good amount of time in National History Museum where you can find numerous displays about human evolution, minerals, volcanoes, earthquakes (with simulation!) and all the possible (stuffed) animals, including skeletons and models of dinosaurs (raaaawr 😛 ) We tried to walk past some sections rather quickly (say it in two hours 😀 ) because you’d need a week or two to really see it all. Then we hopped each in its own direction, me directly towards T-Rex. When I was just about to capture “the good profile” of a triceratops I heard a voice in a speaker saying something about exit (sudden clearing of countless school groups didn’t strike me as a sign at all). Then I heard the words “evacuation” and “don’t panic”. Say whaaat?! I couldn’t help myself but to think for a second about all those terrorist attacks that are happening lately so I ran like a chicken towards the hallway. Turned out, I was the only one running 😀 When I reached hallway, there was a river of people slowly moving to the exits. “No panic” order was seriously taken around here. So I joined them and in a couple of minutes we were all outside where I spotted Bojan instantly, the only person going towards and not away from the entrance, filming the whole process of evacuation. Typically. Until today I do not know what was the reason behind alarm, but their Twitter said it had something to do to with standard precautions 🙂
Being “bike people” we naturally had to rent city bikes only to realize after a couple of hundred meters that most roads in the park had “no cycling” sign. Why, oh, why? And on the top of that, bicycle line are rare in the city so you have to ride on a road, possibly between two double-deckers. Since I prefer to take my dose of adrenaline with downhill where possibility of bear attack seems less likely than getting hit by a black cab on London streets we used the bikes only one afternoon.
One of the things we loved a lot in London was Camden Market where outside and inside (and inside old horse stables, that is to say!) it is possible to find all kind of antiques, vintage clothes and those that hardcore metal band wouldn’t mind to wear and I almost ended up buying long leather “Dracula looking” coat which would than hang in the back of my closet forever after. You can fill your stomach at open market containing delicious international food (btw, we have something like this in Ljubljana, and it is called “Odprta kuhna”).
If you are a history lover like me, than you shouldn’t miss a visit to a Tower of London where you can find crown jewels (did you know that some pearls from Queen’s current crown are often said to have belonged to Elizabeth I?), a lot of weaponry and some torture objects, but it is mostly known for being a place where a few of king Henrik VIII’s wives were beheaded. Obviously the guy had a lack of ideas when it came to ending a marriage and an axe seemed like simple and quick solution in comparison to another divorce, which could impact his reputation. 🙂 Yeoman Warders, guards of the jewels (former soldiers serving the Queen for at least 20 years who are lucky enough to get to live in the Tower) take you on a free hour-long tour. This could seem “touristic” but it’s actually really interesting and in our case hilarious since the guy who walked us around could easily make a career of a stand-up comic if he wouldn’t choose to serve her majesty instead. Later when wandering around by ourselves we stumbled upon a couple of actors dressed up and before we knew it we were discussing passionately who is cheating on who in the court and who is going to end up under the ground soon. If you are short of time, I advise you do not start the conversation since apparently it may take some time to set a deal in 15th century. 🙂 Great experience!
Near the fortress and the oh-so-famous-I-have-to-take-200-pictures-bridge, on the southern part of River Thames there is a cute little Borough market. There you can buy (and most importantly, even try) many fresh foods, from French baguettes, mushroom which names I do not know, a lot of different fish, olives from Spain, see urchins from whoknowswhere, vegan borek (seriously, vegan ?! :D), traditional fish&chips and mmmmmmm, heavenly good cheese from Venice area. We tried many – from the ones with beer, prosecco, moscato..Believe me, you have to go there! Baguettes, cheese and a pint of beer – and we happily rolled into our beds – best dinner in London!
Mere 4 days weren’t even close enough to experience everything London has to offer as we barely even touched the surface of it – the Kensington palace, Greenwich, tons of museum (yep, a history freak talking), Notting Hill – are some of the places to start with next time 🙂