We woke up today with the sole purpose of visiting Westminster Abbey before catching our Eurostar train to Paris. Plus, I had a surprise in store for Cuz before we left.
– London cab
– British mail box
– the iconic British telephone booth
– Abraham Lincoln statue near Westminster Abbey
– Big Ben
– playing around with the Lensbaby
– Houses of Parliament
We queued (pardon my British) up to enter the Abbey. The line probably took about 20 minutes to get through and I passed most of the time by wandering and taking pictures.
– the North door entrance to the Abbey
– a wider view of the North Door
Westminster Abbey is a huge part of British monarch history. All the monarchs have been crowned here since the 11th century, many royals and national figures are buried here, as well as many royal weddings (you might remember William & Kate’s wedding being held here). It’s kind of a big deal. Entrance includes a free audio tour that walks you through the history of the church as well as information on who’s buried where.
We toured this at our own paces and regrouped together at the end. Of course we had to visit the gift shop before we left.
– the interior
– a walkway leading to another part of the abbey
– the West entrance (which is where you exit normally)
We hailed a six-person taxi and headed back to the hotel to gather our bags. We packed our last minute Westminster Abbey purchases and got some more cabs to take us to St. Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar. I don’t know why, but there’s another train station across the street – King’s Cross Station. I’m a Harry Potter fan and on my last visit to London I knew they had a “Platform 9 3/4” at King’s Cross Station I had to find. For those who may not understand, in the Harry Potter world the wizards take Platform 9 3/4 from King’s Cross Station to Hogwarts. The platform is hidden behind what looks like a stone wall that you just run through to access. The real King’s Cross has a photo-op setup with their own Platform 9 3/4. On the last trip, they were doing construction at King’s Cross and Platform 9 3/4 was hidden away off to the side and there was no photo-ops or anything. Now the construction is done and they’ve got things in their proper place. You take your photo pushing the trolley through to the platform and you get to choose your House scarf to wear. Next to the photo setup they have a Harry Potter store that is full of amazing Potter merchandise. It’s a good thing I didn’t have much money. Cuz is also a big Harry Potter fan and he didn’t know about any of this so I kept it a surprise until the last day and he couldn’t wait to get over there and check it out.
We got our pictures taken before doing some shopping. Cuz bought the entire collection of books with the British covers as well as his photo and some other stuff. I didn’t buy much, just a keychain and a cell phone case that looks like a Hogwarts Express ticket.
– King’s Cross Station
– just heading to Hogwarts
– the Sorting Hat with representatives from each house
– the Tri-Wizard Cup
– wands here, get your wands here
– St. Pancras Station (this is actually the station used in the films since it’s not as modern as King’s Cross)
By the time Cuz & I finished getting our geek on, it was just about time to catch our train. We all stopped in a deli and got some sandwiches and I got a cupcake from a bakery, because I was on vacation. Plus, I really like cupcakes.
– my strawberry cupcake – twas delicious
– I was the only one who didn’t bring a carry-on bag. It didn’t take long for Nina and fam to realize they were gonna need a bigger bag to bring their souvenirs home. This was what they found.
– a soda I found in the newspaper store.
With that our time in London came to an end.
London is a fantastic city. It feels like a modern metropolis, but they understand that until kind of recently they ruled a large portion of the world and they embrace their history. Old and new blend well here. As an American there’s definitely some culture shock, but it still kind of feels like home. I didn’t get any this time, but last time I fell in love with meat pies and I just can’t be mad at any place with something so delicious.