The definitive guide to being an annoying tourist in London Part 1

Warning: This is NOT an insiders guide. You will not blend in with the local population or fly under the radar as inauspicious wanderers bored by the splendor and bustle around them. If you follow my lead and nerd out as hard and as often I did, you will likely experience more than one eye roll and a raised eyebrow or two. Why nerd out, you ask?

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Fifteen years of fandom and still going strong. Gryffindor represent! Originally we had only gone to Euston Road to pick up our BRP’s but, wouldn’t ya know. King’s Cross is just across the road what a crazy random happenstance…

Ahem.

There was a long line but it’s totally worth it for the die hard fan. The photographer was very energetic and upbeat the whole time “Yer a wizard!” he would exclaim periodically, it’s like he knew what we wanted to hear (Total Hufflepuff) and the assistant, who magically floated our scarves spoke at least four languages (I sense a Ravenclaw.) We met a fellow Canadian while waiting. She told us of the Harry Potter walking tour where you find the various film locations throughout London and get a bit of history on it. She gave us her print out, I can’t wait to use it when I go back to London!

IMG_8979I would have spent all my money in the shop, but refrained only because my backpack was already terribly heavy and I had been having daydreams since day one about throwing half of my stuff. There was no room for the wand and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, my house scarf, and owl I had my eye on. I did allow myself to purchase digital copies of the photos we took, but I wouldn’t do it again. The photo quality was absolutely terrible. Bev took better photos on my phone with better resolution. They’re blurry and not worth the £15. Sorry, Harry.

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One of the best things about London is the free museums. I’m a total history nerd. I love knowing about the historical events that shaped the culture of each place I visit. Fashion has often reflected the political happenings of its nation and is even shaped by the events of the age. As a costume designer, The Victoria and Albert Museum has a special place in my heart. Their beautiful collection of historic garments photographed and published in beautiful detailed books have always been there for me when I needed to escape from modernism into history. Anyone who has seen the V&A books will recognize this gown from around 1780, even though in this time period having a small waist wasn’t the goal, this dress is extremely petite. I am 5’2, this woman must have been just 5’0 and had a 24″ waist. They also host many paid exhibits and luckily for us “Undressed: A brief history of underwear” was still on display. Sadly, photography was not allowed. The pieces were amazing and included an Alexander McQueen. All hail the fashion gods! Crying optional.

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After seeing all the dainty small waisted gowns we found ourselves suddenly very hungry. Comptoir Libanais was pretty close to the museum and had tables outside for us to soak up the rare English sunshine. The food was excellent so full of flavour and fresh, and it turns out Comptoir Libanais is pretty much everywhere. It’s nice to know we could find a healthy light lunch around London because the food in London is delicious, too delicious. Have my pants always been this tight?

I’d like to say that I’m going to focus on being a lean, healthy travelling machine and find a way to incorporate fitness and a fresh food into my diet on the road, but at the end of the day, when that pedometer reads 26,000 steps 25 flights of stairs and 17km travelled, eating that chicken pot pie and collapsing into bed is extremely appealing.

Do you find yourself wondering how one does THAT many km’s in London in one day?

Behold the icons!

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Buckingham Palace. That famous royal balcony where the queen does her queenly wave. I didn’t get to see the palace on my first visit to the UK so I was glad to finally make my way to the historic palace and cross that off my bucket list. But that’s about all we did there. I don’t mind visiting the tourist places, but I didn’t want to pay to see a fine house richly furnished, but the grounds surrounding the palace are delightful. I would rather just wander around and find things that the locals do or strike a balance between being a tourist and living like a Londoner. I say this and yet somehow, I don’t know how…Well, at least Beverley doesn’t know how, we ended up on Baker Street! What a coincidence! Since we were so close it only made sense to visit 221B! I didn’t know there would be a museum there, but there it certainly was.

Honestly, it was kind of disappointing. Ok, not just kind of, it was really disappointing. If there is one thing I would definitely suggest you skip it would be this. First off, the entrance fee is £15 which is really expensive for four floors of 1820’s architecture filled with the cheesy wax figures one would find at a circa 1960 macabre Disney theme park and manufactured props of things from the fictitious memoirs.  I would have liked to see things from Arthur Conan Doyle’s life, his manuscripts or diaries, what inspired him to write about Holmes, the history of Holmes fandom from its first print until now. Anything real. It’s very much a tourist thing but with little reward. This Londoner/Tourist balance was totally off kilter. So we retreated to Regents Park to lick the wounds of expensive disappointment and eat our lunch in peace. Or relative peace.IMG_9018Canada’s national bird was NOT being very Canadian. He was pushy, and mean, and relentless. I had to eat my sandwich in a slight back bend to avoid his greedy insistence. Thank God for yoga.

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Seriously, Goose. This is chicken.

I have been to the National Gallery before. It was splendid then and it is splendid now. Some of the world’s most famous art works housed in its magnificent halls spanning 700 years of art history. We spent a little time in Trafalgar square having lunch and watching the goings on around us. Most of London seems to be in a big hurry and the square is one place where people mill about in no particular rush. It is vibrant and full of life from early morning to late evening. Buskers perform their tricks and illusions, musicians fill the square with music of varying quality. I have to say I love London it has a hustle and energy to it with history and fun around every corner. There’s so much to do, there’s a part two to the nerdy London posts!

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