I can’t understand some pedestrians in London…

I mean, I know it’s the same in most big cities, but honestly I think there are some people in London who take it to a whole new level.

In the last three days (days 2 – 4 in London) I have seen so many people step in front of cars and buses. And not even in that “oh I can totally make it across if I hurry” way…but in a “if they hit the brakes immediately they’re probably going to stop in time so sure I can step in front of them and meander across” way. Which is honestly horrifying to watch because I keep wondering when a driver won’t manage to stop in time.

Anyway, onto more fun things.

December 21st was my second day in London, and I started it with a lovely breakfast looking over the Thames and London from Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden. I very deliberately booked for 7:30am knowing I’d get to see it both before and after sunrise.

Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden.

Breakfast was lovely — I had Eggs Benedict and a continental breakfast buffet — but even better was the view!

Ezio posing in Sky Garden with The Shard in the background.

I wish the sky had been clearer so I could see a proper sunrise, but regardless, it was a great morning.

After breakfast I took a nice long walk to Tower Pier, followed by a cruise up the Thames. From there I ended up wandering across Westminster Bridge to visit London Dungeon.

London Dungeon banners…full of puns!

When I first heard of London Dungeon I assumed it was a historical building and/or museum, so I was surprised to find it was actually an interactive scare house involving scenes from some of London’s more gruesome past. 

Despite the fact that the scariest part of my visit was the ten seconds in line where I thought I’d lost my wallet, I still had a fun time and I actually learned quite a bit before I made my way back across Westminster Bridge.

Westminster Bridge with a view of parliament.
Ezio wondering if he can climb Elizabeth Tower and ring Big Ben.

From there I took the underground to Victoria to pop into Dominique Ansel bakery. I’d heard they do this amazing marshmallow hot chocolate where the marshmallow opens like a flower blooming…but sadly that must not have been at this location. I did have some excellent Coq au Vin and a peanut butter chocolate mousse dessert, though.

One of the beautiful desserts at Dominique Ansel Bakery.

After that my terribly aching feet somehow managed the 15 minute walk to Harrods at Knightsbridge, where I bought a few little things (hahaha) for my family back in Australia before heading back to my hotel to collapse and avoid my feet actually falling off. I walked nearly 11km over the course of the day (and that doesn’t include all the long hours of standing still in areas of London Dungeon) so I needed the rest!

Harrods at Knightsbridge.

I figured day 3 (December 22nd) would be a good opportunity to rest my feet since I was doing a full day London sightseeing bus tour, however that wasn’t really meant to be! Although I was on the bus for several hours, I was on my feet for several more!

My tour guide was really great, telling us all about the areas we were passing, and we got some great photo opportunities!

Westminster Abbey.
Boadicea in her chariot by Westminster Bridge.
Trafalgar Square.
Beginning of The Mall, leading to Buckingham Palace.

The first main stop we made was at Buckingham Palace. At first we believed we were on the wrong day for the changing of the guard (happens every second day) but as it turns out we were in luck! 

Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guard. According to the flag above the palace, the Queen is in.

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Not only did we get to see both the blue coat and scarlet coat horseguards, we also saw the changing of the guard ceremony.

Scarlet coat horseguards.
Changing of the guard ceremony.
Navy coat horseguards.

I’ll have to come back in the summer to see the changing of the guard again when they aren’t wearing their grey overcoats.

After Buckingham Palace we went for a tour of St Paul’s Cathedral. What an incredible building. I wish I could have taken photos of the inside, but they were quite firm that no photos were allowed inside.

St Paul’s Cathedral – side pathway.
St Paul’s Cathedral – main entrance.

As someone who loves Assassin’s Creed as much as I do, I cannot tell you how weird it was to see some of the main settings of the game in real life… especially St Paul’s! I kept having flashbacks to parts of the game and wanting to play it again so I can look at it with more familiar eyes.

After St Paul’s we finished off the day by visiting the Tower of London. 

Tower of London.
Tower Bridge.

If I have one complaint about the tour (aside from the rude jerk who kept trying to take pics inside St Paul’s until someone called him out on it), it would be that we didn’t have nearly enough time in the Tower of London. We got there with less than 90 minutes to get in and look around before they closed. (Notice the crazy different lighting and weather in my photos…ahh, London afternoons before sunset and their wacky fast changing skies!)

Tower of London – Jewel House.

Tower of London – interior of the complex.

We did get a chance to walk around the interior, and an opportunity to see the crown jewels (again…no photos allowed inside the building) but there were so many buildings that we didn’t get to explore, including the main one, White Tower.

Tower of London – White Tower.

I’ll have to find the opportunity to visit again next time I’m in London, but on my own so I can see everything on my own time. 

It was a fairly long day and I walked way more than expected for an all day bus tour (9km!) but it was worth the exhaustion!

On December 23 (day 4 in London) I had big Harry Potter related plans. Before leaving for the U.K. I downloaded a Harry Potter walking tour and booked a visit to the Harry Potter studios.

Now, the walking tour was 13km, so I figured I’d be sensible and split it into 2 days to give my feet some rest.

Ha.

Don’t get me wrong, splitting it into two days was definitely a good choice…But as it turns out I am very bad at resting my feet.

The tube is miles ahead of the Sydney rail system. Lots and lots of walking and stairs though!

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The tour started at Leicester Square station, and took a few twists and turns in and around Leicester Square before wandering down to Trafalgar and through Westminster.

Trafalgar Square.
Great Scotland Yard.
The London Eye.

One of my plans for this trip is to try and fight my fear of heights, and with that in mind I decided to go on the London Eye.

The London Eye…procrastinating facing my fear by taking more photos.
The London Eye. Eeep…too late to back out!!

It wasn’t as scary as I was expecting…although every now and then I felt the way the movement changed under my feet which made my jaw clench!

A very different view of Westminster… #londoneye #bigben #parliament

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After I survived the London Eye, the walk took me along the same side of the Thames until I crossed Lambeth bridge to wander back up to Westminster Station, which was just over 7km of the walk and where I’d decided to stop for the day.

Thames riverside.

It was only noon and my trip to the studios wasn’t leaving until 2pm so I decided to pop into the National Gallery to see some paintings.

Now…I know very little about art (and significantly less about modern art) but I do love some of the well known (and so pretty) paintings I knew were in the National Gallery.

I actually saw some works by Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir in person…I still can’t quite wrap my head around it!

Sunflowers – Vincent Van Gogh
A Wheatfield, With Cypresses – Vincent Van Gogh
The Thames Below Westminster – Claude Monet
The Water-Lily Pond – Claude Monet

After the National Gallery, I hopped aboard my tour bus for the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio tour.

Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios.

It was an hour long bus ride (which was a welcome break for my feet) to the studios near Watford (the area of the U.K. where my dad was born). Sadly that hour of resting my feet was followed by nearly an hour waiting to actually get in through security checks, lines etc!

Still, it was worth it in the end. I saw so many sets…the Great Hall, the Griffindor dorm, the potions classroom and Dumbledore’s office just to name a few.

The Great Hall – rear / entrance doors.
The Great Hall – Slytherin table.
The Great Hall – Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall.

The Great Hall is one big room. The other sets share areas but still manage to seem real when you’re right in front of them.

Entrance to Dumbledore’s office.
Door to the Chamber of Secrets.
The eighth circle of hell…erm…I mean Umbridge’s office.

Platform 9 3/4 on the other hand, is again it’s own large room.

Platform nine and three-quarters.
I had to stop Ezio from trying to sneak to Hogwarts on a student’s luggage.
The Hogwarts Express.

After wandering through the Hogwarts Express, you get a chance to eat something, have a little butterbeer and even try butterbeer ice cream!

Ezio's eyes are bigger than his stomach…

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I have to admit…the butterbeer wasn’t nearly as good here as at Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando…But I suspect the syrup mix was running out since it tasted a LOT like soda water.

… I'm not sure if he wants to drink it or swim in it!

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But that didn’t stop Ezio from trying to hide amongst the barrels so he could stay forever! 

No, Ezio, you cannot live here!

The second part of the studio was all about the design and animatronics. Very, very cool…but it had nothing on the last room, which contained (drum roll, please)…

A complete scale model of Hogwarts!!!!!

Hogwarts scale model at Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios.

The only way this could have been cooler would be if it was full sized!

It was a long, but awesome day filled with another huge amount of walking (14.5km!) but I had a great time. I even nearly managed to fall asleep on the bus ride back…so clearly I was exhausted. 😪

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