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!
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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!