Travel Diaries: London (Harry Potter Studio Tour, Camden Market)

Hello, friends! You guys, I have literally forgotten to post this entry for five days in a row. It was supposed to go up last week, and I just kept forgetting to post it. But better late than never! Today is a continuation of our travels in Europe at the beginning of fall, and this one covers the third day of our stay in London. Read Part 1 here to see the first two days of our trip, including Tower Bridger, Tower of London, Borough Market, and visits to a few museums!

DAY 3

Museum-of-Natural-History.jpg

Our third day in London was going to be a long and exciting one for us. We started the day off at the Museum of Natural History, which wasn’t originally in our itinerary. As I mentioned before, my husband and I are big into museums, but this was another one that I was reluctant to visit. I feel like once you’ve visited one Museum of Natural History, you’ve visited them all – and we’ve seen several throughout over our years of travelling. I always think they’re a great place to bring children, though, and to be fair, the collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Natural History are quite extensive. The architecture of this building is gorgeous, too.

Regent-Street.jpg

Regent Street

After the museum, we headed off to Regent Street, specifically for their Summer Streets festival. For the last seven summers, London has closed off Regent Street to cars on a few select Sundays to encourage pedestrians to enjoy the festival. We just so happened to be in London on the last weekend of the festival, so we decided to check it out. Regent Street is a street with beautiful, curved buildings, and it’s a great place if you’re in the mood for shopping, as it includes both high street (affordable) and luxury brands. There were a few food stalls and some live music, and some of the stores along the street were also giving discounts. In terms of the festival, I would say if you’re in the area, you should stop by and see it, but otherwise it’s not a must-see. I would love to see Regent Street at Christmas one day!

By the time we finished at Regent Street, it was lunchtime, and we headed off to Camden Market for some food.

Camden-Lock.jpg

Camden Market

Camden Market is both a food place and an activity. Unlike Borough Market, this place doesn’t really sell produce, but similar to Borough Market, it is also packed full of delicious food stalls. Besides eating, there are tons of little boutiques to browse – craft booths, art shops, vintage clothing shops, handcrafted jewelry, and such. The larger area that Camden Market is located in is called Camden Lock, and the shops in the greater area are definitely more edgy and punk than what you see in central London – they all give me Hot Topic vibes, haha.

Camden-Market.jpg

As we walked by each food stall, we wanted to try everything here! I wish we had planned our trip here a little better, because we could have spent a lot more time checking this area out, but we were in a rush to get to our next attraction (which we had arrive on time for). We did end up coming back here for more food another day, but it was a little out of the way for us. We ate a bunch of really yummy things, but unfortunately forgot to take a photo of most of them because we were so hungry. Everything we had here was scrumptious!

20190915_143337
I have no idea what this is (I think it’s a Middle-Eastern grilled pita) but I remember it being absolutely delicious
Warner-Bros-Studio-Hogwarts-set.jpg
This model of Hogwarts takes up a large room, and in the movies they actually use it in all of the close-up external shots of  the school!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

This was the moment I was waiting for! The reason why we were in a rush to leave Camden Market was because we had purchased tickets to visit the Harry Potter studio tour. The tour was the first thing I booked after we had decided we were going to London, and one of the things I was looking forward to the most on this trip.

If you’re planning on going to the studio, The biggest tip I have for you is to leave yourself adequate time to arrive at the studio – I would say allocating 2 to 2 1/2 hours if you’re coming from London is safe. Because your (mostly self-guided) tour is scheduled to start at a specific time, you need to arrive on time. The studio is located in Leavesden, which is 20 miles outside of the city center and requires visitors to take a 30 minute train (not the Underground) from Euston station to the closest station to the studio, then a 20 minute shuttle from the station to the studio. It can be confusing to find the right train to take out of the city center, so give yourself a few extra minutes to get your oriented, too.

Harry-Potter-Studio-Tour
The set that was used for the Gryffindor common room scenes, as well as the costumes that Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint wore in Prisoner of Azkaban.

The Leavesden studio is where they filmed the Harry Potter movies, and the tour contains a ton the actual movie sets, props, and costumes they actually used during filming, in addition to “behind-the-scenes” information such as concept art and special FX makeup. For kids (or even adults who want to try it), there are also things like a green screen set up behind a broom, so it looks like you’re flying. As a huge Harry Potter nerd, I was obsessed with this place. There is SO much to see and learn. Instead of being busy taking photos, put the phone down to take in ALL the details of the sets! My husband is not big HP fan (he’s watched the movies but hasn’t read the books), but he thoroughly enjoyed the studio tour as well. They have the iconic Butterbeer available at the cafe, as well as a huge gift shop where you can get pretty much any HP product your heart wants!

Godrics-Hollow.jpg
Lily and James Potter’s House in Godric’s Hollow!

Leave yourself at least 3 hours to go through the entire studio – we could have spent probably 5 hours here, but our tour was booked for 4:30pm, and we didn’t want to get back to London too late at night.

Harry-Potter-Studio-Tour-Great-Hall.jpg

It was quite late by the time we got back to London, but that didn’t stop us from getting dinner at one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Dishoom is an Indian restaurant that was recommended to us by a friend who visited London a few years ago (and then again by my blogging friend Poutnplay on Instagram). The restaurant has become so popular that they’ve now opened up several locations, but we had our minds set on eating at their original location in Covent Garden. Wanting to eat there the night before, we had passed by and saw a HUGE lineup outside, but we chalked it up to it being a Saturday night. We thought Sunday night might be better because people would have to work the next morning, but the line was just as long. However, the employee manning the line told us it doesn’t really get any better on the weekdays, so we just decided to wait it out.

Dishoom
This is only half of the line waiting to get a table for dinner – there’s another long line to the right of this photo!

We were told the wait would be an hour and forty minutes long, but I think it only ended up being half that! They passed out shot glasses of chai while we were waiting, and it was the yummiest chai I have ever had, no joke – so rich and fragrant. And let me tell you, the wait was so worth it for the meal. It was by far the best Indian food we’ve had in our life! You would think with the huge amount of traffic they get, and also likely having to deal with tourists, the people working there would be grumpy, but they were all so, so nice. I would gladly come back and eat here any time.

Even though we were stuffed and it was getting really late, I had a lot of dessert places I wanted to try in London, so we had no choice but to grab some before heading back to the hotel for some much-needed rest. Our dessert for the night was at Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream, a Philipino dessert shop located in Chinatown. This place itself was super cute and Instagram-worthy. We ordered their signature dessert bilog, which is essentially a hot ice cream sandwich – ice cream placed inside the middle of a warm milk bun. We got the flavours ube (sweet purple yam) and black buko (which we thought would be black sesame, but turned out to be coconut with activated charcoal).

Mamasons

Mamasons-Bilog.jpg

That’s it for Part 2 of our visit to London! In our next post, I’ll be talking about Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Hamilton!

Travel Diaries: London Part 1 (Including Covent Garden, Tower of London, Borough Market, and more!)

Hello, everyone! Today’s post is the first installment of my travel blogs all about our trip to London and Amsterdam back in September. I’ve split our visit to London into 3 different blog posts, and hopefully Amsterdam will only take one. Today’s post covers he first two days in the city.

Just as a note, I am horrible at travel blogging – besides the fact that I only travel 1-3 times a year, there’s a reason why I’m not a travel blogger!

This was my second trip to London, but my first time was with my high school when I was 17, so I’m not sure the first time even counts. To be honest, the first time I visited, I wasn’t entirely impressed and didn’t think I’d ever go back, but when my husband suggested it for our vacation this year, I was down for giving it another shot. It was 1000% more fun this time, and my husband and I were even saying it’s a place we could totally see ourselves living in for a year or so.

Read More »

Review: Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

Hello, dear friends! Today’s post is a review all about the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, quite possibly one of the celebrity makeup artist’s most popular products in her current lineup. Over the summer, I redeemed 2,500 Sephora points for a $100 gift card, and I used the gift card to purchase this. After testing it for a few months, I’m finally ready to review this!

For reference, I have dry skin, and when it comes to base products, I tend to go for something glowy that will not cling to any dry patches.

Charlotte-Tilbury-Hollywood-Flawless-Filter-Complexion-Enhancer.jpg

THE BASICS

The Hollywood Flawless Filter is a liquid tinted complexion booster for a superstar youthful glow. This can be used as a primer, highlighter, or can be mixed with your foundation to get a perfected dewy finish or glow. Inspired by the perfecting lens of social media filters, ingredients help to soften focus, illuminate skin, and make lines and pores appear smoother.

The Hollywood Flawless Filter comes in seven shades. The description of how this product is meant to be used pretty vague, as a “complexion enhancer” could mean anything – it sounds like it can be worn as a primer, highlighter, or mixed with foundation. I have tried using this in a multitude of ways – by itself, under foundation, over foundation, and mixed with foundation, which I’ll go into more detail later.  This retails at $54, and is made Italy. It can be purchased at Sephora, Beautylish, Nordstrom, and the Charlotte Tilbury website.

Read More »

Review: Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb

Hello, my friends! Today, I have a review of the Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb, a moisturizer I’ve been using for the last 6 months. Last year, Belif was a brand I had heard about on IG but never really looked into, until my friend Stashy brought this brand to the forefront when she told me this was one of her favourite products of 2018.

When I needed a new moisturizer in April, I was looking for one that would be light enough for summer, but still keep my dry skin hydrated and be moisturized enough for the fall and winter. As I was scrolling through the Sephora website looking for a moisturizer I might be interested in trying, I remembered what Stashy said about enjoying her Belif moisturizer, so I started doing some digging into the brand. It turns out that Belif is readily accessible at Sephora!

I hear a lot of people talking about the Aqua Bomb, which seems like a dupe for the hugely hyped Tatcha Water Cream (I haven’t tried either, but the textures seem similar to me). The Moisturizing Bomb is a thicker version of the Aqua Bomb, and I don’t hear quite as many people talking about it, but I knew that the thicker texture is something my dry skin would need. Now that I’ve been using it for six months and I’m almost out of the moisturizer, I’m ready to do a review!

Read More »