Amongst Muggles

Trip Start Mar 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 03, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yup, London is definitely another one of my favorite big cities.  There's so much to DO in London... you could spend days and not do everything.  We only had 3.5, alot in comparison to everywhere else we've been.. and I still didn't get to do nearly everything I would have liked to.  Another trip.. another trip.

It was definitely fun wandering around London with Harry Potter in mind.  lol, I read the whole series during my hardest semester in nursing school.  The books were like crack.  I'd spend all day at clinical/work, hours studying or reading for school afterwards... and still... I'd squeeze in a few chapters even though I was only going to have a few hours left for precious sleep.  I never thought I'd remotely like them (in fact, I was pretty sure my friends were lunatics for being so into it), and then I got infected like the rest of them.

Our first evening in London we pretty much had enough time left in the day to find dinner.  We were pretty hungry, and my nose, though a little better, was still congested as hell.  I couldn't taste anything, but if I was going to be able to, it was probably going to be Indian food.  London is THE place for Indian food.... short of India.... or Milpitas.  So we found a place our guide book recommended, and it was pretty good!  At least what I could taste of it, lol.  Chris ordered some really ridiculously spicy chicken and I got some malai kofta- we split each dish, per usual.  That chicken was so hot, I was crying.  I couldn't stop myself, and Chris was just laughing his ass off at me.  lol.  I finally found the only European city that knows what "spicy" is, so I wasn't disappointed.  After dinner we walked around Hyde Park, and then headed back home for the night.

The next morning we got up and headed back into the main city.  Our hostel was way down the Jubilee line, not in the main part of the city.  It was only 45min walking and taking the Underground... until it shut down the next day.  Pft.  Anyway, we went on a free walking tour of the city for a couple of hours.  Saw all the main buidings... Westminster, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, etc.  We ate lunch with a bunch of people from the tour afterwards, including a couple of other Harry Potter fans planning on makin the trip to King's Cross to get the Platform 9 3/4 picture.  So we all did that!  lol, so much fun.  Just sneakin around the station, tryin to find this somewhat hidden platform.  There were a lot of other sheepish looking 20-somethings doing the same... just trying to snag that prized photo and avoid the eyes of the shamed Londoners.  Afterwards Chris and I wandered down the Thames River.  We stopped at the location of the Temple Church, home of the Knight's Templar.  There wasn't much there.... just the church, which we couldn't go into, and the surrounding buildings... which we also couldn't go into.  A little disappointing that there wasn't at least a small museum, but oh wells.  I ran across the Millennium Bridge after that, tho!  No damage in spite of the recent Death Eater attack....

That evening we went on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.  I wouldn't say the tour is for everyone... not anyone who knows a bit about the murders at least.  We didn't know anything other than that he was a famous London serial killer.  So I really enjoyed the walk because I learned a lot.  The guide took us to the locations of most of the murders, explained every gruesome detail (and they were gruesome... very very sexually and physically violent), and also discussed the conspiracy theories surrounding it.  Soooooooooo neat.  The tour ended at the Ten Bells- the pub where all the murdered prostitutes used to hang out at.

The next day we hung out with friends we met on the Ireland bus tour we took a couple months back.  Minnesota (Brennan) met us up first.  We were so freakin late to meet him, tho!  We left our hostel with plenty of time... but then we discovered they shut down our Underground line.  So we had to take a "replacement bus" five metro stops down....  What should have taken 5 minutes by metro, took an hour and a half through traffic and construction work on the bus.  And the locals were getting soooooo pissed, hella yelling at the bus driver.  He managed to get back at the passengers by slamming on his brakes, sending everyone flying forward at the next stop.  lol.  Anyway, we were supposed to meet Minnesota at the Wellington Arch and then walk over to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards.  We had seen a little bit of it the day before while on the walking tour, but we wanted to see more of it with a better view up close.  (It's not JUST the guards changing.. the Royal Band plays music.. including some odd, and awesome, picks like Thriller... and the Indiana Jones theme.... and the Star Wars Death Star theme...).  Of course, Minnesota was not at the arch.  OF COURSE, we missed the changing of the guards for a second time.  Sigh.  Not a great start to the day.  We decided to walk to the Palace anyway to see if we could spot Minnesota in the crowd by pure luck.  (We've been pretty lucky this trip... I don't see why it should fail now).  And we found him within a couple minutes!  He had also showed up late because of the Underground line closures.  We were getting hungry at that point, and the girls we went to Platform 9 3/4 with yesterday gave us rumor of a Chipotle in the city.... the ONLY Chipotle this side of the Atlantic!  So of course we made the pilgrimage for some damned good burritos.  Never in my life did I think I would miss burritos.  ...And it was so freakin good.  =)

After that we met up with Scott, Kate and Evan, three Aussie friends from the Ireland tour.  We all wandered around the Tower of London together (....Azkaban, right?).  The Crown Jewels were freakin beautiful.  I have never in my life seen diamonds that big...!  The Tower was good, but I thought there would be more on the history of the inhabitants and prisoners... instead it was mostly a museum for historical items.  A lil lame... but oh well.

Later on that evening we all met up again for dinner at the Rock 'n Sole Plaice, a pretty good fish 'n chips place, and then for drinks.  It was awesome seeing them all again.  Chris and I are starting to miss our friends at home a lot more, too.... so just seeing anyone you have stories with is awesome.  (And when you're partyin in Ireland with the same people for 10 days plus straight... there are bound to be stories).  We talked and laughed all evening.  Good times.  =)  We're hopin they all come to visit us in California some time.

Our last day in London was another long one.  We walked along Baker St and stopped at 221B- the home of Holmes.  =)  Neat lil shop there (and a museum we didn't pay to go into).  After that we went on the HARRY POTTER WALKING TOUR!!!!!!!!!!  lol  It was so neat!  Our guide was funny but also came up with all sorts of deep insight into the books and Rowling.  We stopped at various places that were inspiration or film shots for the books.  Learned quite a bit.  Here's some of it:
-Rowling did a lot of her writing in coffee shops.  One stupid theory is that she couldn't afford heating in her flat for her baby (she's a single mother), so she did her writing somewhere warm.  In reality, she would calm the baby by walking it in a stroller.  Whenever it fell asleep, she'd step into the nearest coffee shop and work on the book.
-Nicolas Flemel (the supposed maker of the philosopher's stone) is actually a real historical figure.  I was like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!  Apparently he has a tomb, and it's said whoever opened it would be cursed.  People actually believed the stone existed and that he might have it.  And that the tomb was fake.  Or if it wasn't, then it might be there.  (Obvious flaw in logic there... if he were dead, then it didn't quite work, right?)  So, someone opened it, and sure enough the tomb WAS empty.  Flemel even has ties to the Knights Templar- he was a freakin grand master!   My jaw was hittin the floor when I heard all this.  I thought he was some made up wizard for Harry Potter.
-the entrance to Diagon Alley is supposed to be at Charing's Cross... the bookshop street for Londoners.  You enter the world of magic through books.

After our awesome tour we headed over to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre for a performance.  We snagged groundling tickets to see As You Like It.  This was either going to be a hit or miss, I figured.  I have no love for Shakespeare... in fact, I was a total hater.  With the exception of Othello- loved that one.  I'd never seen or read this play... but I was hopin for the best.  It ended up being one of the best performances I've ever seen.  The actors were hilarious.  Even with a language barrier, you knew exactly what was going on.  I got to thinking... maybe my problem is that in school I was forced to read these stupid plays.  Plays are meant to be performed!  What you miss in the language, you can still make out from the acting.  And I absolutely hated the language barrier when I was forced to read the plays year after year in high school and college.  But the performance at the Globe was phenomenal.  =)  Best 5 pounds ever spent.  We had groundling spots... which means we stand in the center in front of the stage for 2.5 hours. My feet were in utter pain from walking all day every day, but it was the best spot in the house.  I'm short, but even I could see everything that was going on!  One guy next to me remarked, "The seats back there cost 5x more, but I don't think they get 5x better of a show!"  Well said.  We were laughing to ourselves as we thought of Tony being a cheap ass alongside us.
Chris: "Tony would be standing here right alongside us."
Me: "..with his Del Taco... though he'd have to run home and get it..."
Chris: "No.  No, he'd already have it on him.  Plannin ahead."
lol, we miss Tuny Bunny.  <3

I really wish I could have spent more time in London.  We didn't even get to go to any of the museums!  A lot of them are free in London, so there's no freakin excuse not to.  Next time- I SWEAR.  =)
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