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Vacation, Part III: England

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England, our last stop!

By the time we got here we were getting pretty worn out.  While we were in London we all pretty much did our own thing, because after spending so many days together in such close quarters, it seemed like we all wanted a little space.

One of my friends and I spent our first day in England at the HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR in Leavesden, which was absolutely incredible.  It’s so amazing to see the amount of detail that goes into every inch of the sets and props and costumes.  The tour takes you past Harry’s bedroom in the cupboard under the stairs; through the Great Hall; around different classrooms, offices, bedrooms and other pieces of sets; to the Quidditch pitch; outside to peruse Privet Drive, Tom Riddle’s Grave, the Potter’s cottage in Godric’s Hollow, the Hogwart’s bridge, chess pieces and the Knight bus while drinking butterbeer; back inside to see makeup and models, drawings and paintings, the Castle, Diagon Alley, and the wands from Olivander’s shop (all of which had been relabeled with the names of those who worked on the films).

There are a bunch of pictures from the studio below, but if those don’t interest you scroll past them to read about what I did in London!




That night I went to my first dubstep show (which was very appropriate considering it originated in London).  We went to the Village Underground to see a looong list of DJs: Youngsta, Biome, J:Kenzo, Icicle, Proxima, Mumdance, Kursk and SP:MC.  I wish I’d had more energy so I could have made it through the whole show, but I just couldn’t do it.  I talked to a few people who live in and around London during the show, and one guy insisted that I stay for Youngsta.  I was practically falling asleep, but my friend got me to stay a little longer so I did end up hearing some of his stuff, and I’m glad I did, because he was definitely one of the best DJs I heard that night.

The next day I walked around Portobello Road Market, in Notting Hill (if you haven’t seen that movie, you’ve got to!).  The Market had antiques and jewelry and books and dishes and soccer balls and cleats from the 1920s and food and a saxophone player playing Coldplay and U2 and clothes and scarves…everything, basically.


Passed George Orwell’s house while walking to Portobello Road Market!


A sign I liked on the way to Portobello Road Market


The start of Portobello Road Market.  The colorful houses side by side remind me of San Francisco.


I wish I’d been able to buy an entire tea set from this place!


Rugby and footballs (a.k.a. soccer balls) and cleats from the 1920s


First editions of Charles Dickens’ novels!!!

In the afternoon I visited the Churchill War Rooms of the Imperial War museum.  On my way there I ran into a friend from CMU who’s studying abroad in Copenhagen!  I couldn’t believe it!  I’m really hoping I can go visit her and another of my friend’s there, but it’s not somewhere that’s cheap to fly to unfortunately…

Anyway, I hadn’t known much about Churchill before, so I enjoyed reading about how dedicated he was to politics, and how his opinions evolved throughout his life.  I’d had no idea he painted!  Apparently someone suggested he do so as a way to escape the stress he constantly put himself under as a politician.  I also hadn’t known how fond he was of books.  One of my favorite quotes is now one of his:

If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are.  Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.

I also loved this one:

We are all worms.  But I believe I’m a glow worm.

If someone asked me which historically important person I’d like to meet, he’d definitely be on my list; he sounds like quite a character.

Walking through the Churchill War Rooms was neat because so much of the space beneath the Parliament buildings is set up as it was during WWII.  However, I started to get a bit claustrophobic by the end.  I can only imagine how much worse it would have been to have to work there during the War, because I was only there for a few hours!

It was a surprisingly beautiful day when I left the museum, so I wandered around St. James’ Park and the streets around Westminster Abbey a bit before heading back to the hostel.




Despite my aching feet, back and shoulders, this trip was one of my favorites because I was able to pack so much into it!  Still, there are so many areas of these countries (and the same cities) that I haven’t seen, so it won’t be my last time visiting all these places.


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