Now, onto the second part of our trip, spending two days in London, England, the world-famous city and site of the 2012 summer Olympics.
We arrived in London, about a three-hour bus ride from Bath, late Sunday night.
On Monday morning, we took a sight-seeing bus tour that left from Piccadilly Circus, which is like the Times Square of London. The bright neon screens flash plenty of advertisements, just like the ones in New York City. We even caught sight of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. On another note, Piccadilly Circus is where Harry, Ron and Hermione apparated (magically materialized) to in the 7th Harry Potter Movie.
Piccadilly Circus’s advertising screens, reminiscent of NYC’s Times Square
After riding the bus for awhile, we got off in Westminster and viewed Big Ben. Then we went inside the Westminster Abbey. Inside, we took an audio guide tour. Hundreds of years of history are embedded inside the walls of this massive church. Past royalty are buried here along with numerous shrines and memorials in their honor.
Afterward, Mom and I went to the National Gallery, located at Trafalgar Square. We took a small tour which included a few paintings of significance.
The National Gallery
Following the museum, we took the bus to Harrod’s. That’s right, Harrod’s, the world-famous store boasting about a million departments. Literally. Inside, when we asked an employee for a map, he instead pulled out a guidebook and flipped through the pages, showing us eight floors of just about everything you can imagine. Designer handbags, a chocolate shop, Disney merchandise, pet supplies, a bookstore, a food hall, and, appropriately, the Christmas store. Harrod’s even has its own gift shop, complete with every item possible emblazoned with their name. I purchased two candy tins; shaped like a bus and a telephone booth, respectively, telling myself I needed to buy something from here. It would probably take somebody days to even explore the whole store. The four of us concluded the day with a nice dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Wagamama.
Harrod’s, all decorated for the Holidays!
The gift store
Tuesday morning, we took the sightseeing bus to the Tower of London; the route included going across the Tower Bridge. According to our guide, the Tower Bridge is “the most famous bridge in the world.” I could definitely see this, considering most bridges do not contain two huge towers as supports. Before my first trip to London, I realized I had mixed up the Tower Bridge’s name with the London Bridge, the next bridge over.
Going over the Tower Bridge
The Tower of London served as a defense chamber, royal residence, a prison and even had a zoo: an extensive history, expanding almost 1,000 years. Within the walls, each tower told a story as we walked through it, feeling the sense of uneasiness of waiting for a possible attack, in the dark, with no electricity. However, I noticed some towers now have modern electrical outlets, making me wonder how difficult it was to blast through the stone for the wires.
A story within each tower…
modern electrical outlets?
The one attraction at the Tower of London everyone knows about: the Crown Jewels. There’s an entire building dedicated to showcasing this magnificent exhibit. No photography allowed, understandably. Inside, though, there are the crowns, sabers and other weapons here. The biggest surprise came in the room with the current crown jewels. The exhibit has its own moving sidewalk. That’s right. On either side of the glass case, there are moving sidewalks to carry people to the other side. An amusing yet clever way to prevent crowing.
The Crown Jewels Building
Afterward, we took a taxi to the British Museum, a museum containing artifacts from all over the world. There are so many countries in there, Egypt, Italy, Greece, just to name a few. A little overwhelming, to be honest. Some of the exhibits were interesting, though. There was even one with a timeline about clocks, concluding with a 2008 Sony digital clock, right there in the display case.
A walk along Oxford Street, the main shopping area of London, gave us a view of the fantastic Christmas lights. With no Thanksgiving to celebrate, Christmas spirit dominates the air here in the United Kingdom.
Christmas Lights! (a little blurry…)
Wednesday, our last morning in London, we went to King’s Cross Station to catch our train to Edinburgh. While waiting, we found the “entrance” to Platform 9¾ from Harry Potter. Both my brother and I got our pictures “running” through the wall with the trolley.
On my way to Hogwarts!
We had a great time in London, seeing all the sites and exploring the city. Our next stop would be Edinburgh and the Highlands. Stay Tuned!