London Day 8 – This way to the Ministry of Magic

This was our last day in London and my last full day in the UK after two months. It was a really amazing experience to work and live abroad for a summer and I’m really grateful for this opportunity. 

We spent our last day on a tour scoping out more Harry Potter spots and going walking around the shopping districts before everything closed at 6. 

This way to the Ministry of Magic
This way to the Ministry of Magic

The Harry Potter walking tour we took went to a lot of major tourist places that were significant to the films as well as some more hidden areas around the city. In addition to the landmarks that the Death Eaters destroy, we saw 2 different entrances to both the Ministry of Magic and Diagon Alley which were used in various movies. This picture is where the telephone booth was located and the toilets are somewhere in the City of London near Leadenhall Market. 

Remy is going to Hogwarts too!
Remy is going to Hogwarts too!

The tour ended up at King’s Cross Station that has a fake Platform 9 3/4 for people to take pictures with. The queue was about 45 min long but I did eventually get to take my picture running into the wall. There were two little girls who brought their own stuffed animals to take with them to Hogwarts and they were so cute! There’s also a Harry Potter store nearby the wall with the cart that sells slightly different stuff than the store at the studio tour.  

Lego bus stop outside of Hamley's
Lego bus stop outside of Hamleys

After attempting to go to Hogwarts, we headed down to Oxford Street to get some shopping in before we left. We went to Selfridge’s that looked nothing like the PBS show about the department store as well as Hamleys which is a giant toy store located along Regent Street. The store was packed with families looking for toys and the aisles were full of employees demonstrating toys. I wish I knew about this place earlier!

Last dinner!
Last dinner!

For the last dinner we headed back to South Kensington and had pasta at a restaurant called Loves by the museums. Each table had a tablet to order your meal from and it even allowed you to choose between al dente and soft pasta. It wasn’t exactly British but it was a good way to finish off my two months in the UK!

 

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London Day 7 – A trip down Abbey Road and Harry Potter Land!

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan so one of the things I knew I needed to do was to visit the Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesden. It was definitely worth it and pretty much exceeded all of my expectations! We changed our date about a month before so we got an evening ticket but we ended up staying almost till closing. Since we went so late, we visited some of the museums in the South Kensington area, went to the Borough Market, and walked across the famous Abbey Road.  

 

macaron meringue from the Borough Market
macaron meringue from the Borough Market

After museum hopping we went to the Borough Market for lunch. It was really really crowded but the food was worth it. I had a halloumi veggie burger as well that was pretty tasty. I had been wanting to buy one of these for a while because they looked so cool and I discovered that it’s pretty much a puff of crunchy sugar. Not too sure what else I was expecting. 

Everyone trying to cross Abbey Road
Everyone trying to cross Abbey Road

Abbey Road is located a few blocks from the exit to St. John’s Wood. The street crossing was crowded with tourists like us trying to take pictures walking across the street as cars angrily honked at everyone trying to cross. It was probably the only spot that we visited that hadn’t really been capitalized on by companies looking to make money and it was refreshing and fun to visit. The studios are located across the street and are covered in Beatles themed graffiti. The signs that say “Abbey Road” are kind of hard to find. I’m guessing it’s because so many people have tried to steal them. If you look high up (like almost to the second story) on the surrounding buildings you’ll be sure to spot one. 

Diagon Alley!
Diagon Alley!

The Harry Potter studio tour was probably the highlight of my entire trip! If you go be sure to book months in advance especially for weekends because they sell out fast! It was really nice that they controlled the amount of people they let in so there weren’t suffocating crowds everywhere. The first part of the tour takes you through some sets, props, and costumes used in the making of the movies and the second part leads you through the creature shop and right down the real Diagon Alley! It was really impressive to see everything up close and in real life. A lot of things that looked computer generated were actually real like the door to the Chamber of Secrets and the door to Bellatrix’s Gringotts vault. 

HOGWARTS
HOGWARTS

The last surprise is the real Hogwarts itself! They used a model for all the external shots so there’s a giant room that houses the entire school! It was really cool to see it in person and it was extremely breathtaking and beautiful. Pictures really don’t do it justice. You need to come see it for yourself.

Last Days in Oxford

Quickly my five weeks have come to an end and it’s time to move on to more adventures. I used the past few days to see and do all the things I’ve been putting off for the past few weeks (sadly we never got to go punting).

First English style breakfast
First English style breakfast

Started off the morning with a flat white at Quarter Horse and learned that espresso drinks in England are comparable to the size of a double shot glass. We paid a final trip to the East Oxford Farmer’s market behind Tesco and headed down to the Magic Cafe on Magdalen Road. I had my first English style breakfast and was absolutely stuffed after. 

Magdalen College Chapel
Magdalen College Chapel

After saying goodbye to my friends, I attempted to gain free access to all the colleges I could after being inspired by our tour at Cambridge. I think the most impressive one was Magdalen with its beautiful chapel that housed not only these super cool statues but several monochrome/sepia stained glass windows, a statue of someone lying in a coffin, and a giant painting of the Last Supper hanging on the wall. 

Insider’s tip to Oxford is that it’s best to visit on a weekday if you come in the summer. A lot of the colleges close their grounds to visitors because of weddings on the weekend. Not even university staff are allowed in. 

Finally got to walk on the grass at Trinity College
Finally got to walk on the grass at Trinity College

After many weeks of staring from the outside in at this beautiful lawn of grass, I finally got to enjoy the one lawn that people are allowed to walk on in front of Trinity college. It was as glorious as an experience as I thought it would be. I had to really restrain myself from rolling around on the green carpet because I didn’t want to cause a scene…

The spires at sunset
The spires at sunset

This is the view down High Street in front of Magdalen College at sunset. I’ve really had a nice time in this beautiful city but it’s goodbye for now and on to more adventures!

Eating Around Oxford

I don’t really eat out much because it’s so much more convenient and cheaper to cook at home. Groceries are pretty reasonable too especially with farmers market season in full swing. There were some notable eats these past two weeks though. 

The AMAZING picnic "crate" with salad in flower pots from the staff summer party
The AMAZING picnic “crate” with salad in flower pots from the staff summer party
Tapas at Kazbar
Tapas at Kazbar
Macarons from Rick's
Macarons from Rick’s