Oh London, how I love thee.
London is one of my favourite cities to visit. It has an endless amount of culture and sites, shows and food spots. Every time I arrive I am always left in awe at the hive of activity occurring in the city as well as the sheer amount of coffee spots. Unfortunately, we only had two days in London before our tour so in that time we had to pack in what we could.
We started our time having lunch at the Hard Rock Piccadilly Circus…Yes, I know it’s touristy but I have a tradition to collect the shot glasses from every Hard Rock I visit. Following this we ventured through to Covent Garden, a fun-filled area of pubs and theatres as well as the Covent Garden market. The markets are a great spot to venture through, where you can pick up cute collectables and locally made art. Just know though, if you do decide to go and take the tube be mindful that Covent Garden Station is only accessible via elevator, or six flights of stairs if you’re so inclined.
Next up was the LEGO Store. I’m not usually one for cheesy shopping spots in cities but the LEGO Store in London is actually quite fun. For one thing, the store has its own Telephone box for photos (clean and without the smell of urine) and it also has a complete structure of Elizabeth Tower (commonly misidentified as Big Ben which is the bell inside). Yes I took many pictures as the real Elizabeth Tower is still hiding under scaffolding until 2021. The store is also home to many works of art on the wall and London themed LEGO collectables which I recommend checking out.
The next day started in Bloomsbury. We were staying in this area and it was a great location not only for cute enclosed parks but also its proximity to nearby sites. Staying in Russel Square we were only about a 20 minute walk from the Covent Garden area.
Walking down to Trafalgar we had a quick stop at Neal’s Yard, a brightly coloured section of stores tucked away from the main road. There is also an impressive artwork by bambi in the laneway to enter Neal’s Yard that I suggest seeing. It features the late Princess Diana as Mary Poppins with some of her Royal grandchildren in tow.
For some obscure reason there was direct sunlight (in January!) when we got to Trafalgar Square. As always good old Horatio Nelson is hanging out while overseeing the square, which at this point in the morning had about 10 people and too many pigeons. This is where the National Gallery is, along with the occasional protest.
In the afternoon we made it to Kings Cross/St Pancras to go to the famed Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4. The line up for the trolley photo was decidedly too long as we were there early afternoon but the store itself was incredible! From chocolate frogs to personalised Hogwarts letters, this store has everything! There is also a great little food market outside that makes for a good lunch spot.
After our little Harry Potter adventure we wandered down to the British Museum. It is a great activity option in London (for all weather types) and it is completely free. We elected to use the North entrance as there was little line up on entry and we got in straight away.
The Ancient Egyptian area was one of the first places we went through. There is a large collection of artefacts from the area along the Nile though the most popular seemed to be the mummified bodies still entombed in their sarcophagi. It’s quite interesting to study the relics here and definitely one of the distinct areas of interest in the museum.
My favourite area though was the Viking exhibit, particularly the Lewis Chessman set. Named for the Isle of Lewis in Scotland where they were found, these chess pieces are made of Walrus ivory and originate from the 12th century. I greatly enjoyed studying the detailed facial expressions the chess pieces have, owing to how well they have been preserved.
After a bit more wandering we made it to that better recognised side of the museum, where the Rosetta Stone and other ancient artefacts are housed. I had a quick wander through this area but after two hours in the museum had rather reached my limit on walking and staring at objects.
All together, I highly recommend the British Museum if ever in London. Just don’t forget your walking shoes (you’ll need them) and a snack for afterwards!