Day 1- Arrival in London : Borough market, Harry Potter Studios
From Harry Potter to Harrods to High tea, London has something magical for everyone. As a child, I devoured the stories of London city and British countryside and longed to see it and be a part of it. And boy, do dreams come true! A trip booked on a whim due to amazingly low priced Lufthansa tickets turned out to be the best experience of our lives.
We arrived in London City airport, got our Oyster cards and dragged our luggages on the relatively ( to Singapore) narrow tube to Borough Market. We moved into our quirky hostel St.Christopher’s Inn and set off on a walk along the lanes of Borough Market.
If I could , I would eat here everyday! Street food from world cuisines – I ain’t saying no to that 😀
After munching Indian chaat cooked to perfection by English chefs, H and I set off to the la-la land of Harry Potter in Warner Bros studio , Watford Junction. Good that we booked our tickets a month in advance! On a scale of 1-10 how much do I like Harry Potter?
9 3/4 quarters of course! The studio was the workplace of all the actors from 1-8 HP movies. The 1000 odd set designers and artists who worked on it made our real world magical by making the magical world real. Every set piece in the Studios brought back those lovely childhood memories trapped in the deep recesses of my brain. I tried my hand at flying and wand witchcraft. We pretended to be couples flying far far away in Ron’s enchanted car . We pretended to be in Snape’s potions class stirring the mechanical revolving cauldron. On occasions of back-to-reality phases, we learnt how the directors and visual effects artists turned Hogwarts class into a huge living school. Although slightly over-priced, the tour was once-in-a-lifetime experience! We ended our tour caping ourselves in Hogwarts robes and sipping authentic butterbeer.
Day 2: Warwick Castle, Stratford upon Avon, Cotswolds, Oxford , English Pub
After some sound sleep (and hence conquering jet lag) we zoomed to Victoria station to catch our Premier Tour Bus for a day outside London. Enroute, we saw Buckingham Palace – weekday home of England’s longest serving reigning monarch – Queen Elizabeth 2, Pimilco ( Residence of London MPs – Mostly Promises apparently! ) and a host of other places before making our to the highway towards Warwick castle.
After an hour, we reached Warwickshire where the mighty Warwick castle stands on the River Avon. Hugh, our perfect English tour guide took us down the Warwick history lane. Now owned by Madame Tussads to recreate life-like wax statues from that era, Warwick is a medieval castle built by William the Conquerer in the 11th Century.
Armed with coats, gloves and scarf, we headed out to the castle on what seemed to be a “warm” day in Uk. Little did we know that it would experience April snow showers only a few hours later! But, oh the excitement 🙂 Anyway, I digress.So we started off with a bow and arrow show , walked around the castle, the dungeons, the prisons and the royal chambers and managed to catch the amazing Trebuchet show – one of the world’s largest working siege engines!
We sat alongside little school students with marshmallow hot chocolate and saw a giant rock weighing less than 150 kg thrown upto 300 m and as high as 25 m. It was a scene seen to behold. After catching a random beautiful fully-open feathered peacock chilling on the grass, we climbed up the castle to catch the terrace view before rushing back to the bus, for our next stop – Stratford-upon-Avon!
The birthplace of Shakespeare – Stratford upon Avon had the quintessential English charm which I loved. A quaint town situated across Cotswold Villages with honey-colored stone houses, the place beamed with Shakespearean literary energy. The place recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare on April 23rd, 2016.
After exploring the house and some shops, we had yummy food at ‘Food of Love’ Cream tea,scones, lasagna and English salad…”If music be the food of love, play on..”
Next stop, Oxford!
It was 4 pm in the evening when we reached Oxford and it was oh,so cold and windy! We took refuge in the great halls of Oxford ( HP great hall scenes were filmed here!) and i so wished for the beautiful cutlery to be filled with food! We roamed around Christ Church and the lawns. Oxford University is a city university – there is no main campus – the accommodation, faculty and halls are all around the city center.We saw University the Church of St.Mary the Virgin, the Sheldonian theatre. The whole town gave the whole colonial era feel with students dressed in robes and reciting latin verses. It would have been a unique experience to study here.
We boarded our bus back to London and we arrived there in freezing cold. We met our colleague and friend in a traditional English pub next to Victoria station for pot pie,mashed potatoes and cider – all very English.
Day 3 – Borough Market (again!), Windermere, Lake District
Windermere , the largest lake in Lake District, is also an adorable town right out of the pages of an Enid Blyton book. We checked into a backpackers hostel with complete self service, had a nice walk in the rainy weather , warmed ourselves to French soup and pizza. It was an amazing afternoon – almost felt like I was in Stars Hollow with friendly neighbours whose lives might have intertwined into mine. We visited to the local stores, treated ourselves to some Sticky Toffee Pudding and just people-watched. Everyone was so warm and friendly with beautiful houses and cute dogs – we so wished to come back and retire here.
A trek up to Orrest Head early in the morning 🙂
Day 4 – Beatrix Potter Tour by Lake District Tours, Edinburgh – Royal Mile
Day 5 – Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour, Edinburgh Castle Tour, The Dark Side Tour
View from Hostel – Edinburgh Castle Rock Hostel – funkiest hostel I have stayed in!
Say hello to animated David Maitland – our Sandeman walk tour guide :
Day 6 – Back to London, London Tower Bridge walk, BrakeAway Secret London Bike Tour, Bomb Scares, beautiful walks
Day 7 – Sandeman’s Grand Tour of London , Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner , and food-hopping
Day 8 – British museum, 221b Baker Street, Science Museum , Harrods and Middle eastern dinner
Day 9 – Yummy long breakfast at St Christopher’s Inn and tube ride to Heathrow Airport.
Hope you enjoyed this post !
I will be back , UK 🙂