I started Monday with a good 7 hours of sleep, waking around 5am. I finished the blog and went in search of breakfast. This is the first time I’ve stayed in a place where I have to find breakfast outside. It had always either been included, or there was enough of a kitchen available where you could bring it in. So in an odd way it’s a nice change to “have to” go out for breakfast.
I headed to the South Kensington subway station.
There’s an entrance you can pick up pretty quickly from where I’m staying that’s the longest subway tunnel I’d ever seen. This went under the museum complex and a major intersection at Cromwell so you don’t have to deal with crossing the street. At first I thought it was strange but in nasty weather I can see where it would come in handy. This morning though, pretty empty! I also learned that Monday was a summer bank holiday – and kept getting reminded of it as the day went on – which would explain the emptiness.
This was my destination. I’d figured I could find breakfast nearby and was right.
Cafe Rouge is a French bistro chain based in London. It was across the street from the cathedral.
There has been a church on this site for about 1400 years, the prior ones destroyed mostly by fire. Construction of this version started in 1675 and was complete in 1711. Christopher Wren was the architect.
I wasn’t expecting much from this church for some reason, maybe because the Protestant churches I’ve been in before weren’t all that impressive artistically – Helsinki comes to mind – so I had really low expectations. While I maintain that St. Peter’s in Rome is in a class all by itself, I probably have to place this at #2 of most impressive. Tied with Cologne for sentimental reasons 🙂
Seriously, this place is worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately depending on your perspective, photos weren’t allowed. The admission came with a digital guide that was informative and well done. It is the only domed church in England and you get to go up there, which I did. I didn’t expect to be able to go all the way up so that was a nice surprise, and the most challenging cathedral climb I’ve had since my first time at Cologne.
Every time you’d think you were done it would keep going.
Forget Mind the gap!
The view from the top made it all worth it.
I’d spent about 90 minutes here I guess, which is a long time for a church. I was very glad I came. And got my exercise in for the day already: I checked my phone and according to the Health app I’d already climbed 28 stories, and it was only 10:30am!
The famed Elizabethan Globe Theater where Shakespeare worked was to my left once I crossed the bridge. It was a £17 admission and you couldn’t take photos; I wasn’t that interested so moved on. I walked over to the Southwark bridge and went back into the City of London.
You’re probably thinking: but you’re already IN London? Yes, doubly so. The central neighborhood in London is actually called the City of London. And Westminster is its own City, too. The other neighborhoods are called boroughs, such as where I’m staying: the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Sounds rich, doesn’t it?
This place was dead due to the holiday. It was approaching 11am at this point.
I came across this and it was free, so why not.
This was the main gallery on the 2nd floor. It wasn’t a big museum but had some nice pieces and interesting history. Very focused on the City of London as explained earlier.
I loved the mix of old and new architecture in this room. This was the lower level, which also led to an even lower area which showed the remains of an old Roman amphitheater discovered in 2002 during a renovation of this building.
There wasn’t a ton to show but boy were they excited about it! Archeologists had always guessed that given what was then called Londinium’s size and influence in the early part of that millennium there MUST have been an arena somewhere, so this was an important discovery. I appreciated the way they used lighting to fill in what the rest of the arena might have looked like, along with some figures of men for perspective.
I was making my way to the Euston London station where I would take a train to my big stop for the day, Warner Bros Harry Potter studios. I stopped at an Indian place along the way for lunch and took advantage of their lunch special for £9.95.
.My favorite surprisingly was the mint on bottom left. I’m generally “whatever” about Indian mint dips but this was subtler than I’m used to and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
It’s a Long Story how I got here which I will mainly skip. Short version: trains weren’t running due to the holiday, and I got here via several subway transfers and the final stretch via Uber. I arrived at 2:40 for my entrance time which was 3-3:30. Perfect! By the time I got through security I was ready to go.
For the other Harry Potter nerds out there: this is your Mecca and you must come 🙂 It’s probably the thing I was looking forward to the most about this trip and I was not disappointed.
Once you get past security, there’s a long hallway wallpapered with famous quotes.
One of my favorite exchanges in the series, between Dumbledore and Severus. The choking up started about here and was on and off for the next 3 hours.
If I had to pick a single favorite line from the series, this might be it.
This was on display in the final line waiting for the tour to start. There were two short introductory films, the 1st about how the the first movie came about, the 2nd from the 3 main stars, welcoming you to where they worked for 10 years.
The tour starts, fittingly, with the Great Hall.
One of the things the tour did that was enlightening and educational was provide more detail than you could ever have wanted about how it was all done. To me, some of the more impressive notes were about how far they went into details from a production standpoint that the viewer would never really notice, but that would impact the performers by making the world come alive for them. One of the best examples is this painting above. The common room had paintings of all of the current and former heads of the house. Many of the portraits used in the movie were painted just for the movie – around 300. This was one of them.
Over 1000 bottles were brought in for this set.
All those serpents actually moved.
The whole forest set was well done and actually kinda creepy. Thankfully the photos of the huge spiders didn’t take very well.
Closest thing to a butterbeer is a creme soda, although I don’t know how they got that thick head of foam on it. The ice cream was sort of a cross between vanilla and butter pecan.
This is what was actually used in filming; it was a huge room and was amazing.
This was just the way that portion of the room was lit, all in blue; I actually adjusted it to lighten the blue up a bit, the original is darker than his.
That was so much fun, but after 3 hours my head was Full, so much information. I was ready to go and did not feel like getting here the way I came, so I opted for Uber all the way back to Kensington and got back around 7pm.
I was definitely ready for dinner and went into a different area that had this concentration of people from Lebanon with several interesting cafes in a row. I went for the least crowded.
I was DONE after this and got back to my room about 8:30, so was gone over 12 hours. I was asleep not too long after 9pm.
Today all I have scheduled is Buckingham Palace in the morning so will be a light day. Or at least that’s the plan!