London and Oxford

London, England
Oxford, England
I just got back today from another amazing but way too short weekend in England visiting two different sets of relatives. Thankfully last Wednesday was a holiday so I was able to have a 5-day weekend (well, I made it up myself) and had two nights with each family. It was a weekend full of fun, laughter, love, and food and I’m so happy I was able to make it back to see them all, even for just a short while. I even got to explore the Harry Potter studios for a day and Oxford (along with all the HP locations) another!
So the first day, after dropping my suitcase off with my cousin while she was at work in central London, I just wandered around the city and saw some stuff I missed last time.
Left, left, left right left…

Sure let’s nap right here in front of Buckingham palace.

Buckingham! And Starbucks 🙂

Some guy from Finland with terrible English and a stupid street show, desperately trying to wow the crowd.

Westminster Abbey!

The next day, aka the most amazing day of my life, I FINALLY got to the Harry Potter studios north of London to see the sets of the movies and learn about how they did everything. I spent about 4.5 hours there and didn’t want to leave! It was absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend any other HP nerd like myself to get there ASAP.

Emma Watson (Hermione)

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

Rupert Grint (Ron!)

THE cupboard under the stairs!

The Great Hall! Move, guide-man!

The left and right costumes were worn by Tom Felton.

Hufflepuffs and Cedric’s Triwizard Tournament costumes

Gryfinndor! And Daniel Radcliffe’s first-year costume on the left awww

Yule Ball display

Various wigs

Harry’s clothes throughout the 7th movies

Hogwarts front gate

Gryfinndor boy’s room, Harry’s and Ron’s beds

THE MIRROR OF ERISED!!

The Common Room

Invisibility Cloak!

Triwizard Cup and the egg

Dumbledore’s Penseive

Dumbledore’s office

Stuff from the movies!

Potion’s classroom

Hagrid’s hut!

Heading to the Chamber of Secrets!

Death Eater costumes!

Part of the statue/monument to wizards in the Ministry of Magic

Umbridge’s Ministry office

The Burrow!

The Horcruxes!

Umbridge’s outfits

The Black tapestry

The Knight Bus!

Trying butterbeer, aka cream soda with some creamy stuff they poured on top.

The Potter’s cottage

#4 Privet Drive!

The Hogwarts Bridge

One of the several Ford Anglias

Nearly Headless Nick’s costume

Goblins

Voldemort before being turned back into a human

Dead Dobby!

Aragog and the Basilisk!

Diagon Alley!

Buckbeak

The GIANT replica of Hogwarts they used for filming. It was so pretty and almost emotional to see!

Before the gift shop, there was a “wand shop” that had all the names of every person involved in the films on each wand box. I mean, this room was covered in them; it was really cool.

The main hall

Waaah don’t want it to end!

 The following day I went to the town of Oxford and walked around the little city, including seeing some more Harry Potter sites that were filmed at the university.

The beautiful town of Oxford, on the grounds of Christ Church College

Christ Church College

Christ Church cathedral

Getting ready to be sorted! The staircase used in the HP to get up to the Great Hall.

Right where the boys stood! Eeeeee!

Beautiful courtyard at Christ Church College.

Around Oxford.

Entrance courtyard to Bodleian Library

The Famous Turf Tavern: An Education in Intoxication

It was graduation day at Oxford!

Everyone had the cutest bicycles with baskets in front!

The Courtyard in which Harry talked to Cedric/Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret.

Malfoy was turned into a ferret here

Some tea and a pick-me-up at England’s first coffee house the Grand Cafe, from 1650!

 My final two days I was with my aunt and her family, and I had some time to relax and spend a few moments with them. Unfortunately I was hardly able to spend time with my cousin and his family (who I stayed with Wednesday/Thursday nights) as they had to work and so we only had some time in the evening together. However the weekend flew by so quickly that I feel I hardly saw anyone! Plus Monday was a holiday in the UK but not Spain, which means that they had an extra day and I didn’t 🙁

With Sascha and the kids outside the Museum of Natural History

Just before leaving 🙁

Just before leaving 🙁

A week being British!

Windsor, England
London, England
Wimbledon, England
I just got back from an amazing week in England! I stayed with family during the week and had a wonderful time getting spoiled from all the delicious homemade food and nurturing my newfound love of tea. I spent two days exploring London on my own and saw so many fascinating sites. I even got to do a Harry Potter tour and saw Platform 9 3/4, which were the highlights of my touring! I have to admit I fell in love with London and didn’t want to leave! I even got to explore some of the sites outside of London, like Windsor, Wimbledon and Hampton Court. As usual, the pictures will tell the story 🙂

At Windsor Palace!

Walking into Windsor

I heard him burp.

My very first shepherd’s pie – why don’t I eat this more often??

Wellington Arch

Marble Arch

Westminster Abbey

Houses of Parliament

Trafalgar Square

Some guy trying to fit through a tennis racquet for money.

A site in the HP tour – Harry, Ron and Hermione walked down this alley way in the first part of the 7th movie after apparating into London 🙂 They still haven’t fixed the sign!

The entrance gate to find Diagon Alley in one of the movies.

A candy shop similar to Honeydukes – I bought a chocolate frog and Bertie Bott’s, and tried Dumbledore’s favorite sherbert lemon candy 🙂

JKR’s inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Our guide, Kevin, is standing right where they put the phone box to get into the Ministry of Magic Visitors Entrance, outside Great Scotland Yard.
Where Ron stands while waiting to get people for the Polyjuice Potion!

Where the crew installed the toilets to get into the Ministry of Magic. The building on the right, more interestingly,  is a spot where Henry VIII used to live!

The London Eye!

So pretty during sunset!

Queen Boadicea, was queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the Roman Empire, and is believed to be buried under platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross station. JKR based Bellatrix’s character on her.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

I can officially die happy!

Having dinner with family at the Ostrich – the third oldest pub in the UK, dating back to the 1300’s I think.

Fish and chips!

The original fireplace at the Ostrich.

Houses of Parliament.

Millenium Bridge, the one that the dementors destroyed!

Tower Bridge!

One of the torture devices used at the Tower of London – pulls the limbs off!

Armor made specifically for Henry VIII

Uniforms worn by William and Harry!

Yay!

The Tower of London! Best part was the crown jewels, which were stunning!  Couldn’t take pictures, though 🙁

At the British Museum, one of the coolest things I saw was the actual Rosetta Stone!
Buckingham Palace!
The top of the fountain in front of Buckingham Palace, with Queen Victoria in the middle.

Excited for a day out with Sandeep, Sunita, and Sunayana!
Wimbledon!!!

In the actual pressroom – and chairs!! – that the top world players sit in after a match to talk to the media! Serena has sat there!

Centre Court! Where Serena and all the big tennis pros play during Wimbledon! Only used for those two weeks every year yet the grass needs to be kept perfect all the time.

The actual trophies given to the winners!! They don’t get to keep them, though!

Yay!

Serena wore these clothes during Wimbledon!!!!

At Hampton Court Palace, beautiful decoration!

Outside the Palace! This was the living area for the reigning king or queen until after Henry VIII died – then they moved to Buckingham.

Amazing ceiling art leading up to Henry VIII’s apartments.

On guard!

His Majesty King Henry VIII! And a wife. I assume.

London is so rich in royal history and had me wanting more at each turn. Everything was so interesting – it’s impossible to be bored. I feel like it’s the perfect vacation spot for anyone – couples, families, old, young…. With the shopping at Piccadilly, walkability of the city (if you’re able-bodied, I suppose), museums, aquarium, and fascinating royal history, there’s definitely something for everyone. My number one suggestion is to watch your wallet – not because of pickpockets, but because of spending. Do your research first, find what you’re interested in seeing, and focus on those sites because nearly everything requires a ticket, and the pound is worth almost twice the dollar now. Just realize that although that coffee you’re buying costs 4 pounds, it actually is worth almost 8 dollars to you. Might just pack a lunch beforehand, hmmm?

Anywho, I loved London so much I already have tickets to go back in the beginning of May. It was one of the most culturally-diverse cities I have ever been in – I heard so many different languages and saw so many different races. And guess what – it WORKED. People of different accents, shapes, sizes, color, or even languages seemed perfectly happy to walk side by side or help someone out. Why can’t all societies be like London?

GO TO LONDON.

LONDON MUST-DOs:

  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Fish and chips
  • The Big Bus Tour (free Harry Potter walking tour, which you also need to do). This tour company seemed to have the best line and most frequent buses. Their maps are also very handy.
  • Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross. It’s actually just a little area marked off from the crowds who are entering the platform area. You’ll need to stand in a line but you’ll get a free picture if you can find someone nice to take it for you. There’s also a gift shop around the corner where you can buy a professional picture and all other necessary HP merchandise.
  • Trafalgar Square – nothing was more relaxing than sitting by one of the fountains and eating lunch.
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