Today was a lazy day. Originally, our intention was to go to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter tour outside London. I did not realize, however, that tickets could ONLY be bought in advance online. I thought it was just like Disneyland or Universal Studios, when one simply walks up to the booth and pays for the ticket. When I was doing research online at home, most locations had an option to prepay for a ticket online or pay at the venue that day upon arrival, and I though Harry Potter was like that. None had an “online” only option like Harry Potter did, otherwise I would have for sure bought the tickets. I guess this is an example of me not reading carefully enough, because for this attraction I did not purchase tickets far enough in advance. I was SORELY rankled with myself for possibly letting Thing 1’s hopes down. I tried outside ticket agencies (with some research help from Mr. Rovira from the states) and the concierge at the hotel, all to no avail. We were out of luck. Thing 1 didn’t seem as upset about it as I thought he would be; I think I was more upset. Both of us, it seemed had reached the point at which we were ready to slow down a bit and were tired of visiting two and three attractions per day. So, in the end, it was less of a disappointment than I thought it might be. To make up for my mistake, though, I told Thing 1 we’d go back to the Harry Potter Store at King’s Cross Station and I’d get him items from the store equaling the cost of a ticket to the studio tour we were missing.
So, Thing 1 and I “slept in” and didn’t actually leave our hotel room until nearly 1 p.m. Well, Thing 1 was a sleepyhead; I was up at my usual time and spent some time perusing my usual online news sources. When we finally left, our first stop was to rustle up some lunch. Since we were both desirous of food other than fish and chips, scampi and chips, sausage and mash, pastey, etc., I went online and found something to remind us of home: a Five Guys!
Now, Five Guys is no In-N-Out, but it was close enough, so we headed out to where it was located between Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. It was the most expensive visit to a Five Guys I’ve ever made (£25.75, or $44.19 for just the two of us!), but it was delicious and definitely a proper American hamburger. After eating, we headed to a “funky” part of town: Camden Town. Turns out, it wasn’t so funky. It was very touristy, so after we headed up the High Street and back, we got back on the Underground and headed off to Kimg’s Cross Station and Harry Potter.
For the sensation that Harry Potter is, I expexcted a bigger store, like Disney Store sized. It was really rather small and, of course, packed. Noah settled on getting a wand, some more of “Bott’s Beans” (which are really Jelly Bellies with vile-sounding names), and a great new hoodie.
Outside the store was a long line of people waiting to get their picture taken in Harry Potter-ish glasses and a scarf next to a sign reading “Platform 9 ¾” (for a fee). Our business being concluded, we next headed off to Paddington Station. This gave us the opportunity to ride the “pink” Hammersmith & City Line, which we hadn’t yet ridden. This is where we were going to buy the Heathrow Express train tickets to get to the airport the next day to come home. It is an quick train with no stops other than Heathrow terminals. We could have ridden a regular tube line but it would have been slower and we would have had to worry about how to get our luggage on and off trains, and in and out of tube stations — and I quite had enough of that in Paris. (Not all tube stations had escalators or elevators “lifts” for riders to use.) I wanted to buy the tickets in advance to ensure I would be ready to go and not feel flustered or stressed trying to get to the airport the next day. We would take a London black cab from our hotel to Paddington, and then the Heathrow Express from there.
Finally, Thing 1 and I left Paddington and walked south to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. This time, we were at the other side of this large park near some fountains.
We found a green, shady spot on a knoll overlooking the fountains and just chilled out for a while. Thing 1 played games on his iPad, and I read an ebook on mine for about an hour. The sky had big grey clouds in it, even though it had been (up to that point) almost the nicest weather we experienced there during our entire visit. I think I saw that a chance of rain was expected the day we were scheduled to leave, so that explained the clouds rolling in. Unfortunately, laying in the grass for an hour triggered a sneezing fit, and so we decided to leave for our hotel.
By this point, though, it was past 6 p.m., and so we found ourselves trying to make our way through the Underground system with all of London’s regular commuters. The Oxford Circus stop, where we needed to change lines to the Victoria line, was amazingly packed with people. Thing 1 and I were having deja vú and flashbacks to the hot, odiferous, and PACKED commutes we experienced on the Paris Métro. I loved everything about the time I spent in London, but I will NOT miss my crowded subway trips, and I am very grateful I have a straight three-mile commute to work!
Thing 1 and I chilled the rest of our night in our hotel room. He played games on the computer and I continued to read my ebook. One more wake-up and we’d be going home!