TO THE MOTHERLAND PT. 2 // London, United Kingdom

Even though we were in London for three and a half days, I feel like we barely scratched the surface of this wonderful city. Compared to many of the other cities I have visited where one can walk around the town centre in a few hours, London’s sights were sprawled all over the city. While this was a bit unfortunate in the regards that one has to spend a lot of time travelling to and from various locations, it did give the city an eclectic mix of locations. You could hope on a tube in the old town near the historic London Tower, and get off in an area with a completely different feel, such as Camden Lock.

Our Saturday began with a mission to Kings Cross Station to fulfil our tourist desires.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI know, no shame. We didn’t feel so ridiculous doing it, as there was a line of tourists for this prop. Which, I should add, is not even in the true location of the platform. Platforms 4 and 5 – in the below photo – were the actual location of the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4. After having a quick look around the station we also dropped into the Harry Potter gift shop to look at the over priced merchandise. They literally had every conceivable Harry Potter piece recreated (wands, the Philosophers Stone, a time-turner, etc etc).

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESChris has read about a market at Camden Lock, so we walked along a canal for a few kilometres to see what it was all about.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe weren’t really sure what to anticipate, maybe just a few stalls and some food vendors. Turns out the entire district is one big market. There were some stalls (with amazing street art) on one side of the road, some more on the other, and an old stables that was an absolute rabbit warren of clothes, bric-a-brac, vintage goodies and food. It was amazing to walk around, and if you had the time and money you could spend an entire day there! Even out on the streets the stalls continues, though with somewhat tackier products on offer.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe decided to treat ourselves and booked lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. We had reserved the table ahead of time as we weren’t sure how busy it would be, but it ended up being about half full, giving it a nice atmosphere. The restaurant and staff were wonderful, and the food was delicious. However, as is the way with fine dining, you don’t get a massive meal for the price tag. Proceeds from the restaurant go towards Jamie Oliver’s charity, so we felt a bit better knowing our money was going towards something worthwhile.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe spent the afternoon wandering around London again, following another one of our self guided Harry Potter tours.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe were so lucky with the weather, as the rain continued to hold off, and we even got a few glimpses of blue sky!

I also wanted to have a quick detour to poke our heads into the Sherlock Holmes pub (I am currently reading all the books!) to see a recreation of Mr Holmes’ study. The pub itself is also very traditional of the hundreds of other English pubs we encountered on our travels.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOur evening eventually lead us to the London Eye. Chris had organised for us to go on a wine tasting experience, which involved trying five wines and two rotations on the wheel. The wine was delicious and we were given fantastic views of the city. However, the guide talked about the wine a lot, leaving us with little time to enjoy the views. It could have also gone for a bit longer – it was only an hour – considering the amount of wine on offer and the price.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe remainder of the night involved cheap Asian of Chinatown, bringing back memories of dumplings on Little Bourke St in Melbourne.

Sunday morning saw us head out to the Natural History Museum. Most of the museums and art galleries in London are free to enter, which would be great for a rainy day. Unfortunately for us we had decided to go on one of the busier days of the week, so we were battling children and families to get in. There was even a line for the dinosaur exhibit, much to our disappointment.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe had planned to indulge in a traditional Sunday roast for lunch, but we struggled to find a pub that had one on offer within our budget. After a good hour of walking we gave up and went for cheap Asian, yet again. I think our next travel destination is going to have to be South-East Asia…

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn recommendation from a friend we headed to Brick Lane after lunch, which pretty much filled the criteria for hipster central. Vintage clothes, independent art, and street food galore. If I had had money, a suitcase, and an apartment, I would have had an absolute field day. Instead, we remained content with taking in the atmosphere.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt was such a wonderful weekend away. London certainly felt a bit like home to me. Not only from the language (boy, it was nice to have a break from constantly worrying about the language barrier!), but the city had so much on offer, and had a culture and vibe about it I certainly could get used to. Maybe post-graduate education or employment in the UK is on the cards? Who knows! But I would love to come back and do a road trip around the rest of the United Kingdom too!

– Reanna.

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TO THE MOTHERLAND PT. 1 // London, United Kingdom

I didn’t intend to have such a long hiatus between posts, but by the time I remembered that I needed to sit down to write one I was running around packing my bag for London! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI caught my plan from Prague last Thursday morning, and landed in Stansted Airport. For some reason London has at least four airports that I am aware of, and three of them are about an hours travel from the city centre. Seeing as Chris and I were both flying with budget airways, we landed at these outer airports! After some navigating, buses and planning ahead we were successfully able to meet up in the city! We checked in at our AirBNB and spent the remaining daylight hours wandering around the old part of London. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe saw St Pauls Cathedral and the London Tower (which was surrounded by poppies from Remembrance Day), before heading down to the riverside. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTower Bridge looked spectacular at night, as did so much else of the city! The rest of our night involved cheap-ish dinner (cheap by London standards anyway), drinks in a London alleyway pub, and catching up after a month apart. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe next morning we navigated our way back into the city, despite the horrendously confusing transport network. We wandered from St Pauls to Camden Garden Market, passing so many beautiful photos that I was overwhelmed with what to take a photo of! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESConvent Garden Market – well, they call it a market but it is full of Zara and Gucci boutiques – was our starting point for a free walking tour with Sandemans. We had been hit by rain in the morning, but thankfully it held of for the duration of the tour! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis alleyway is thought to have been an inspiration for¬†JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTrafalgar Square, over run with tourists. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOne of the main sights of the tour was of course the royal area. I am not really one for the royal family – I won’t go into my reasons here – but even I was a bit excited when we saw these majestic palaces. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAlso, squirrel! Finally a successful photo, yet the squirrels here aren’t as beautiful as the little red ones in Prague! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy favourite buildings were the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben, however, isn’t even actually called Big Ben – that is merely a nickname for one of the bells inside! It is really called the Elizabeth Tower, but whatever, we are all tourists here! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhat’s that London? Rain, now blue skies? SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe had wanted to go to the WB Studios to go on a Harry Potter studio tour, but we left booking tickets too late and missed out. So after lunch at an English pub – fish and chips! – we took the next best option of buying a little map for a self guided tour of Harry Potter film locations. While underwhelming, it was handy to have a walking plan around such a big and busy city! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe tour took us through the Borough Market, which was full of delicious looking food. And free samples. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Monument, and the added beauty of a crane. This statue was erected during the 1600s, and like many other parts of London is melded in with modern office complexes and sky scrappers. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOne of several locations used for the outside of the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter! Sorry for the photo overload and lack of insightful words – I am exhausted after such a big weekend and my head is a bit all over the place as I try to readjust to reality! I will share the rest of our London adventures over the coming days. – Reanna.