I’ve always wanted to visit London and two weeks ago I finally had the chance to go in combination with a visit to the Warner Brothers Universal Studios to experience the making of Harry Potter and watch the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I guess you could say it was more or less a pretty nerdy trip.
We arrived in London early in the evening, got out of the airport, purchased an Oyster card, took the Tube and bus and arrived at our Airbnb pretty smoothly and swiftly, or so I thought. Turns out that my boyfriend and I miraculously managed to end up on the opposite side of town due to a certain misreading of street names. After a much lighter wallet and a cab driver as a new friend, we made it to our apartment as our stomachs were already ingesting themselves. We dropped off our things and headed to the nearest Restaurant (which happened to be pretty authentic Hong Kong cuisine) and I helped myself to a portion of chicken wings and char siu fan (Chinese bbq pork with rice). Too tired to explore much else, we turned in for the night so we could get an early start the next day.
The following morning we headed to Watford Junction to catch a train to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. According to Google Maps, what should have taken twenty minutes from Watford junction, ended up taking sixty. I have since then come to learn that there are actually two trains (one of them being an express one with fewer stops) and we OBVIOUSLY went and got on the slower one. Sometimes, I question my intelligence… sometimes! We however, did get a chance to have a look at our surroundings on the journey and the stark contrast between the flashy cars and shine and glamour of Central London and the outlying areas was pretty shocking. The neighbourhoods looked desolate in combination with the grey backdrop of a sky. The homes looked broken and the gardens untended with piles of rubbish and junk scattered everywhere, a sight one does not naturally associate with London.
Upon arriving at the studios, I felt like a seven year old again. Not only did we get a glimpse of some of the real sets used during filming, such as the great dining hall or the Gryffindor Common room, we got a close look at all the props and costumes used. We boarded the iconic Hogwarts train, posed for pictures in Hogwarts robes and got our first taste of Butterbeer (which is pretty much like Cream Soda topped with Ice-cream) and it was magical. I grew a new appreciation for the series and the amount of work and effort that must’ve been put in by the whole production team. If you’re an avid fan as I am, I highly recommend a visit, if you haven’t already been. I also read somewhere that the Forbidden Forrest will be a new addition to the studios in March.
For once, thanks to what little self-control I have, I managed not to spend a fortune at the gift shop. I got myself a mug and the boyfriend came away with Voldemort’s wand. In the evening, we finally headed to the Palace Theatre ( a year and a half after booking the actual tickets) to watch the first part of the play. I must admit, after giving up on reading the book, I was concerned that the play would not not live up to my expectations but J.K.Rowling had our backs all along and I couldn’t have been happier to be plunged back into a world of wizardry. The plot was gripping, the acting was wonderful and the production was effortless and well…for the lack of a better word, magical, a feat which evidently took a lot of time , practice and funding. For fear of spoiling someone else’s’ experience, I’m going to stop there.
The next day was spent visiting the British Museum which is much larger than I had imagined and is very overwhelming to try fit in a day so we stuck to the areas such as “Ancient Egypt” which interested us the most. I must also acknowledge that I was pleasantly surprised that there is no entrance fee.
After a few hours at the museum, we were already off to watch part two of the play, which filled me with sadness once it was over but I will be back when it heads to Broadway!
Now as much as I’d like to get into all the other fun touristy things we did on the remainder of our trip, well, we didn’t.
With Benny catching a cold and the freezing and gloomy weather, we couldn’t bring ourselves to do much else than walk by the Tower Bridge and Big Ben and visit a cozy little market in the evening. How local Londoner’s manage to walk around in shorts and mini- skirts while it’s snowing outside is beyond me. Really.
And that was pretty much my trip in a nutshell. Before getting on our plane home, we popped into a a local diner for a proper english breakfast ( which in my opinion should be an everyday thing) featuring beans, eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and hash browns . I felt that we left a lot out on this trip and didn’t get to do as much as I would’ve liked but on the other hand, the two extra days there would’ve cost a fortune! I had heard that London was expensive, but the prices were bordering on insanity. On most occasions I had found that i’d be able to get two full meals in Austria for the price of one in London and when I was told my small beer cost about six euros, all I could do was stare like an Idiot. Nonetheless, I plan to come back for another adventure in London, perhaps when the weather is more suiting.
– A Pearl of the Orient.