London Calling

Rewind to the Thursday of two weeks past, and a very panicked travelsmith could be found running about the Edinburgh Waverley train station, desperately trying to be on time for her journey to London… Only to discover she was in fact early.

After a four hour train ride, which consisted of myself and the fellow interns entertaining ourselves with stories and tales of adventures past, we arrived in London. Never before had I been so excited to explore a city. There is something truly majestic about London. Whether this is due to the fact that its scenery feels vaguely familiar due to its constant appearances in movies and pop culture, or the fact that Kate Middleton walked the streets, I am not sure. I only had confidence in my total enthrallment with my urban playground.

Big Ben

Within minutes of arrival, I was thrown into an entirely new culture, running about the streets. From hastening between tube stations to staring at the marvel that is Big Ben, everything about London proved fast paced and exciting. Reminiscent of a British version of San Francisco, I felt at home amongst the hustle and bustle.

The hours of our first day included a series of educational events: tours of Westminster, visiting the House of Lords, and attending a talk hosted by a British MP. Despite the intensively academic schedule of our day, my face rested in a permanent smile; I was in London. Nothing which occurred that day, no matter how dull, altered my state of mind. The power of positive thinking, and my sheer stubborn excitement, resulted in my finding everything about the day wonderful. I walked the city with my head tilted up, constantly turning left and right to take it all in.

Friday morning I awoke with am almost stupidly overwhelming feeling of joy for another day in London. While the list of events planned by the program that day were, again, not particularly entertaining, my hard and fast love affair with London overpowered any disappointment at the day’s early schedule; that, and I had a trick up my sleeve for potentially, and what would prove to be, one of the greatest decisions I have ever made and the best £33 ever spent.

More meetings with “important” people took place. Sabrina, a fellow intern, and I exchanged knowing glances all day, eagerly anticipating 2pm which would indicate our freedom from the program’s schedule and officially begin our free time. Although sitting in on a debate in the House of Lords interesting, and learning about the structure of the British Parliament important, my feet tapped impatiently, and my heart beat faster as the time grew nearer and nearer. Finally, after what felt like years, the clock reached two. Sabrina and I leapt out of our seats, mumbled a goodbye so insincere you would hardly know we were friends with our fellow interns, and ran out the door.

Looking at the time, we agreed we had thirty minutes for a pit stop in Covent Gardens before adventuring to the main attraction of the day. Walking at an inhumanly fast speed, we travelled a mile and a half in roughly ten minutes. I stood in awe at Covent Gardens, finding the set up and boutique-shop stands resembling a more fabulous version of Santa Rosa’s Wednesday night markets. My eyes struggled to take it all in at the speed necessary to our time limit. Doing a quick walk through and sweep of the grounds, Sabrina and I glazed enough to feel satisfied and return to the streets of London to find a train station.

Fast forward two hours and a half hours, two tubes, one train, and a stressful Taxi ride… The Harry Potter Studios.

 

My state of complete and utter awe and bliss to be at this truly magical place can best be summarized by the fact during our entire tour, I was shaking with excitement and close to tears from being so happy.

Walking through the Harry Potter set was a dream. It felt like actually being in Hogwarts. Everything seemed so incredibly real. Roaming about the Great Hall, I stared at, plastic, food which looked so delicious my mouth started to water a little. I saw a potions class which made me confident Polyjuice existed. Seeing the Gryffindor common room made me temporarily unsatisfied with my Ravenclaw house standing.

Moving forward on the tour, I nearly passed out from shock at seeing the Hogwarts Express. After standing in line to pose with the Platform 9 & 3/4 set, I shuffled through the train, taking pictures in the seats and pretending my acceptance letter had finally arrived.

Platform 9 & 3/4

Turning another corner, we had just enough time to try a Butterbeer before continuing on our journey. Now, it is well known that I enjoy most sweet things. But the almost grossly sweet caramel flavour of Butterbeer proved no exception: It was delicious and I fell in love all over again.

Pulling myself out of my new romance, Sabrina and I entered the next part of the set, which proved even better than the last. Twirling about parts of the outside sets, like the Chess Board, Knight Bus, and 4 Privet Drive, we entered into Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley was so quintessentially Harry Potter that I think I died temporarily, only to be brought back when I accidentally ran into a Death Eater, ironically enough. Ending the tour in Ollivander’s, which continued into a massive gift shop, I felt as if on a literal cloud nine. The fandom was not and will not ever be over. The boy who lived shall always live.

After dropping a generous amount of money on some Ravenclaw paraphernalia, which I will truly cherish forever, a Shuttle bus, two trains, and one mile walk brought us back to the hotel room. My coma of Harry Potter bliss remained strong, carrying throughout my dreams.

The fandom will never die

As my time in London drew to a close, I felt a bittersweet sensation. While visiting the Harry Potter studios confirmed in my heart the trip would forever be worth it, and London incredible, I felt unfinished. So many areas of the city remained unexplored, inspiring me to make plans to return again.

On Saturday morning, three tubes and a train took me to the Stansted airport. My time in London, at least for this trip, was officially over.

The calls of London had ended. Those of Berlin, just beginning.

Cheers,

The Travelsmith

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