London

So far anytime I had asked someone who had recently travelled to London, “How was it?” “I’m headed there soon?” They all responded, “Expensive.” I thought to myself, do I look poor? I kind of bought my own plane ticket from the west coast to Europe. I think I can afford a few days in London. I didn’t think London would be cheap. But I knew I would be able to make due. With the shortened days; I arrived in London just as the sun was setting. I asked the receptionist of the place where I was staying if London was worth seeing at night. She almost laughed, said London is quite beautiful at night, and then pointed to a poster of London at night behind her. The entire city was illuminated. Not quite like Times Square, but similar to the New York skyline at night. I was slowly becoming a master at the London “tube”. Subway. It is more expensive than the bus, but so convenient and easy and fast. I’m not counting pennies yet, so I take the subway. I don’t know if I can accurately describe how I was feeling when I emerged from the subway and first saw Big Ben.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He was across the street from me. Massive, lit up and brilliant as ever. I did a large loop around Westminster, Parliament, and the London Eye. The weather was perfect for a winter’s night in London. I walked along the Thames river and saw Parliament, in its entirety, lit up, and listened to Big Ben ring. I envisioned Peter Pan flying with Wendy, Michael and John in front of Big Ben’s face (don’t judge haha). I also felt like a part of the Mouse Detective and kept a look out for Ratigan. The London Eye was closed unfortunately. As with the dungeon. Easy way to not spend money if everything is closed. I made my large loop around the river and retired for the night. Tomorrow was Harry Potter. (Insert heart eyes emoji now). I saw the large sign that read Harry Potter Studios. I saw the chest pieces outside. I was smiling from ear to ear. I walked inside, saw the Christmas tree still set up, the pictures of them from book one and then book 7. Ahh, I totally grew up with these guys. I put on my Gryffindor uniform and entered the world of Harry Potter with Karen the Slytherin and Stephen the Hufflepuff (aka peacekeeper haha) I’m not quite sure how to explain this place because some things you just need to experience for yourself, but it was like being in the movie. Which makes sense considering it was the movie set. Something I found interesting was how small some of the rooms were because they looked massive on screen. The Great hall and Gryffindor Common room for example. It’s amazing how camera angles can manipulate everything. You could ride a broomstick on the green screen. See the Goblet of Fire which actually lit a flame and spit out a name (one guess), The Burrow, Malfoy’s Manor, the costumes used. They have the Hogwarts Express, Platform 9 3/4, Privet Drive, Godric’s Hollow, and Dumbledore’s office. The bird statue outside his office. The entire place was magical. The entire production was impressive, but one that stood out to me was the replica of Hogwarts grounds. Basically they built a smaller (but quite large) replica of Hogwarts, and how it looks from the outside or a panoramic view. They used this model for the panoramic shots of the castle. So no, there isn’t really a Hogwarts Castle look-a-like in the UK. I had some butterbeer, and made my way through the giftshop. A day with Harry and his friends was tiresome, but one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I had one more full day left in London. So much to do and so little time. I finally bought an Oyster card which is the first thing I should of done in London. Its basically a pay as you go card for the subway and the bus, and you get a subway rate 50% cheaper than if you paid cash. I wanted to see Big Ben and Parliament during the day so I wandered up there, and after walking around a bit I made my way to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. The weather was less than ideal today. A bit drizzly, windy, but luckily not terribly cold. The Globe Theater was disappointing. You can only see a smidge of it. Otherwise its all covered by new walls they have built and you have to pay to go inside. I have come to notice that about all attractions all over the world. People want to make money somehow. In a distance I saw what I thought was London bridge. Then I realized that London bridge is quite boring to look at. It was Tower bridge I spotted from a distance. I made my way towards it when I stumbled across St Paul’s Cathedral. I say stumbled because I had no idea it existed. It was gorgeous, and I’m glad I was abe to see it. Then I came across the Tower of London. You know, the place where they beheaded people. I decided to pay money and go inside the Tower of London. Only 22 people were executed there. Most were killed on Tower Hill which was nearby, but doesn’t exist anymore from what I can see. Pretty sure its a Mcdonald’s now. However, the place was still creepy and I now it’s haunted. I wouldn’t want to be the only living soul walking around that place at night. I saw the crown jewels, and the Line of Kings. Heard the story of the two prince boys that were murdered by their uncle, so they couldn’t take the throne and then buried under some stairs. One of the building was from the year 1040 I believe. White Tower. I think the York Wall may still be older, but probably not by much. I saw the torture chamber, and where they kept the wild and exotic animals before they were sent off to the London Zoo. I would look at the view from the Tower of London and once again would see a mixture of old brick buildings over 500 years old, and in the same skyline some modern glass building from the 1990s. I’d say its unique to London, but I haven’t seen the rest of Europe yet. I think it may be unique to Europe. My last day in London I met my cousin for lunch, and he happens to work near all the shops. Its probably for the best I didn’t get to spend a lot of time there, but have I mentioned I will probably go back? I needed to head back to Worthing to do some laundry and swap out some clothes. It’s time for my journey to South Africa. I know, I have a really random itinerary. A few things I picked up on London is everyone runs with a backpack. I’m sure this is because they are running to or from work. I get the feeling the runners might be English, but that is about it. Otherwise no one in London is British, but from somewhere else in Europe or the world. And I never knew dual citizenship was a thing. But if you have a parent who was born in France, but you were born and raised in the US, you can get a French passport. And with a French passport you can work anywhere in The EU. I found that quite different.

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