4.16.09 London- British Museum, Pub, Harry Potter

London Travel Blog

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4.16.09 London- British Museum, Pub, Harry Potter


Every tourist in London was in the British Museum today!  It was raining and after we bought out the umbrella kiosk (just 3 L each) outside the tube station, we headed there too.  The National British Museums, as in Washington DC, are all free to the public with donations gladly accepted.


The British Museum has some fabulous pieces of antiquity and we enjoyed seeing the Rosetta Stone in person.  Since this piece of rock, with 3 languages engraved on it, cracked the hieroglyphics code, it was a treat to see it in person.  The real mummies and mummified real bodies were a scream.  There were many great treasures there- too many to list, so many rooms, so many floors, and we enjoyed until we dropped. 


We did eat our packed lunch sandwiches on the marble floor, along with most folks, as many more stood in long lines to buy from the café there. 


Then we bought baguettes (surprise!), and found Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾ at the Kings Cross Rail Station.  I enjoyed going up to the information workers and asking for directions by saying, “Guess what we’re looking for?” and they’d laugh and say, “Follow them!  Platform 9 and ¾ is down on the left.”  We waited in line with about a dozen others who democratically take turns appearing to push on the shopping cart which appears to be entering the stone wall.  It was a hoot!


Hamley’s Toy Store was on the list for today since Harry Potter’s wands were to be delivered today.  And they were, except we changed our minds, and Lia ended up with an authentic Chochang’s wand and Charles with a remote-controlled helicopter as their upcoming birthday gifts (which we could have bought yesterday).  You have to be nuts to go to Hamley’s even once, so what’s the term is for someone going 2 days in a row?  But the kids were thrilled.


We hopped a bus to Lord of the Moon on the Mall, one of the oldest pubs in London on Whitehall Street at Trafalgar Square.  This Rick Steve’s’ suggested family-friendly restaurant was terrific!  They have good prices, warm wood atmosphere (you order at the bar and it is delivered to the table), authentic pub grub with British beer, and it was really a great experience for just 17 L.  Terrific!


After the kids climbed on the huge Lion statues in Trafalgar Square, we wandered into the National Portrait Gallery, thinking it closed late tonight.  Alas, it closed at 6pm and is open late only on Fridays, but it gave us time to be amazed.  Wow!  What a gorgeous treasure with incredible paintings.  Very stirring and we hope to return tomorrow.  After the wild crowds at the British Museum, the National Gallery was delightful, calm, gorgeous, delicious.  We surprised ourselves in really loving it.


We saw others gathered and ran across the street to take pictures of Downing Street.  Our equivalent of the White House was fun, but we saw only a trio of musicians entering. 


Off we walked past Big Ben to the UNESCO World Heritage trio of Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, and St. Mary’s Church.  They were closed for the evening, but we got enjoy the architecture, which is stunning.  Are those sun-dials, rather than clocks, on the outside towers?  We need to learn more.  It is a shame that the price tag for entrance is over 20 L for a family.  We can always worship there on Sunday if we like.


We do know that Shakespeare’s birthday celebration opens the Globe Theatre on Sunday for free festivities and hope to attend then.


We took the bus today, but exited at Brixton Station, and rode the tube in.  So much faster!  Also, at the tube station, I bought Jazy and Charles tickets for the next 4 days for 1 L each.  Since I didn’t have them this morning, I bought a bus ticket for cash for them, and it was 2L each.  Nice guy at the Brixton Station gave me a form to complete to give to him tomorrow to credit my 4L back, since I now have travelcards for them.


We walked down to Victoria Station as I wanted the kids to experience that place, and we were swept along with the crowds even as late as 7pm.  It was a wild experience- you really need to know how to get in (Lia travels through the assisted gate with me, since she is free) and where to go- before you jump into the river of people.


The kids were eager to return to the campground to play with their friends, which they did upon our 8pm return.  I enjoyed talking with Ned on the phone and then our campground friends- we’re sad that our next-door neighbors are headed home tomorrow (Friday).  We really enjoyed talking with them each morning and evening about the day’s adventures and plans.  It really is a joy to meet nice people from the countries we visit - camping allows the time and opportunity.


It is now again raining lightly.  I love the sound of it on Sugar’s roof and am glad that we put up all the chairs and table.  We also put in the awning after the first day so that it won’t get damaged should the wind pick up while we are gallivanting around London. 


We are planning on heading to Greenwich tomorrow and maybe Kew Gardens.  (both UNESCO sites).  I was sad to see that Blenheim Palace, which we drove RIGHT by on A3400 road from Stratford-Upon-Avon to Oxford (through the Cotswalds) is a UNESCO site and we missed that opportunity.  It is so hard to research everything in advance and with my bad memory… but we’ll do what we can in London.  Another trip, as they say!


I heard today that the Emissions Zone fee for driving through London is 200 L!  No kidding!  I sure hope Sugar is already registered in the UK database as a newer and clean vehicle or we will be paying dearly for our drive into London.  Well, there is not much we can do now but wait to see what comes in the mail to our dear Irish family.


Perhaps we’ll go by train to Cambridge on Saturday for 50L - we got info at King’s Cross rail station today- I’d hate for the kids  to miss that venerable place.  Then Sunday is our last London day- heading south to France on Tuesday (Canterbury & Dover cliffs to the coast on Monday).  We’ll definitely head south out of town!  We’re so grateful that we got to stay at this nice campground for the rest of the week- otherwise we’d have had to move today to Abbey Woods.


London is a brisk, clean, fun, lovely city and we are having a ball exploring her wonderful history and meeting her vibrant residents!



azsalsa says:
What a whirlwind day...I'm exhausted just reading what you all did. It's brought back wonderful memories for me of many of my own adventures around London.
Posted on: Apr 23, 2009
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photo by: ulysses