London & Birmingham

Nearing the end of our European leg, it was time to fly over the English Channel and explore the city of London!

London

Our first activity was high tea at the Shard with our friend Shan! Anne met Shan four years ago whilst travelling in New York and developed a strong friendship which has been maintained via Facebook and Instagram. This was an amazing experience – the views, the food, and the tea – perfection! Tourist tip: you can see London from the Shard for free if you book for high tea. Avoid the cost of going to the top for an exorbitant fee and indulge in some delicious cakes instead!

Our first full day in London coincided with Daniel’s birthday, and we spent the day at the incredible Warner Bros. Studio on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Both being huge HP fans, the tour certainly did not disappoint! The studio contains a myriad of sets and props from the eight films, in addition to a range of interactive exhibits. There is even a bar inside where you can order Butterbeer, and live actors running around as deatheaters! One of the most interesting exhibits was the actual Hogwarts Castle scale model which was used as the basis for most of the overhead shots in the films – it was reassembled piece by piece when the model was brought back to the WB Studio.

The next day was all about clocking up some kilometres and visiting some of London’s must-see’s. Starting at the Borough Market, we made our way past Shakespeare’s Globe and over the Millennium Bridge toward St Paul’s Cathedral. Anne then decided that the Royal Courts of Justice were worth a visit (typical lawyer!), in addition to a legal bookstore operating since 1830 – fun times! After devouring some tasty Mexican from the Wahaca #TacoTuesdays menu, we set off for some of the more conventional sights, walking past the silent Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and St James Park, which was full of squirrels! Finally, we took the typical tourist photos of Buckingham PalaceTourist tip: if you are travelling to London and want to see another Big Ben (or one without scaffolding) check out the nearby Lego Store for a replica! Shout out to our friend Georgia for being our tour guide for the day!

During our stay in London, we jam packed our days as much as possible, leaving early in the mornings and getting home late! Despite this we felt like we only skimmed the surface of what London has to offer. Though there were plenty of museums we planned upon visiting, we only had time for one, and, after seeing the line at the National History Museum, decided to see the Science Museum. With a number of informative and interactive exhibits, this museum is perfect for a 1-2 hour visit! Whilst in the Kensington area, we also stopped by the world famous Harrods, although we could only afford a cup of tea and a stroll through the gift shop!

Other than the main tourist haunts, we also paid a visit to some popular neighbourhoods within the city. Our favourites were Shoreditch, Brick Lane, Old Spitalfields, Camden Markets and Notting Hill. Of course, the main purpose of our trip to Notting Hill was to explore the set location for the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film. We found the Garden and the Blue Door, much to Anne’s delight! No Hugh Grant though!

Lucky for us, all the food we tried in London was recommended by locals, so we didn’t have one single bad meal! For delicious Malyasian cuisine, check out Roti King in Kings Cross. Although they do not take bookings, the 40 minute wait was worth it for the cheap but delicious food! Absurd Bird transported us to the deep south of America…. think mac n cheese and wings – be prepared to use your hands and get down and dirty! Thanks Jess for a great catch up and delicious food recommendation! Finally, The Pilgrim, where our friend Georgia currently works, has a great take on modern pub food, and a beautiful beer garden, where we managed to catch an ultra rare glimmer of blue sky!

Birmingham

The last two days of our stay in England were spent in Birmingham, the second most populous city in the country. We were visiting this city to reunite with 9 of our friends from our Peruvian adventure – it was hard to believe that a total of 11 (of the 17 originals) of us would be together again! Of course, it was only right that we had lunch at a South American restaurant, reminiscing about good times in the land of the Incas! After eating and drinking our way through lunch, our resident tour guides Marika & David gave us a brief tour of the city, including a walk along the wonderful canals – which are actually longer in length than those in Venice! To cap off the festivities, and because we hadnt eaten enough already, we stopped by Osteria for dinner. An innovative Italian restaurant, Osteria offers ‘all you can eat’ pasta and pizza for 15 pounds! Safe to say we definitely did not leave hungry, polishing off 5 courses each of pasta and pizza!

A big shoutout and thankyou to Marika & David for hosting us in Birmingham, as well as the rest of the crew; Craig, Gillian, Amie, Collette, Euan, James & Georgina, for making a big effort to be in Birmingham for the day! It truly made our trip to England so memorable #friendshipwithoutborders!

Until next time,

AP & DT

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