Category

Europe

London, Travel, Europe, Britain, UK, United Kingdom, Madame Tussauds, Madame Tussauds London, Oxford Circus
in United Kingdom

Travel: The British Museum, 221B Baker Street, and Madame Tussauds (London, UK)

***Or what I’d like to call ‘The rest of Day 1 in London’. Fair warning: This is going to be quite a long photo diary.

Sadly, most of my videos (and even some photos) for London were corrupted so I still don’t know whether I will be making one with the little bit that was left. ūüôĀ But at least, there are photos from my trusty camera so I can still share with you guys how awesome London was.

I love London.

There, I said it. My dad said he knew I would love it more than Paris and he was right. Expensive, yes, to the point where I can’t imagine living there but I love it still. When I think of London, I think of exuberance. I read somewhere that a man who gets tired of London is tired of life and I can see why.¬†You just won’t run out of things to do! Most museums are free, the parks are just gorgeous, and walking around different neighbourhoods is an adventure in itself.

The British often complain about how gloomy London could be due to the incessant rains throughout the year but I do believe that the city itself has enough light and life in it to make the gloom bearable (even unnoticeable).

So back to the point of this post ‚Äď London day 1. I already talked about our arrival and our ¬†affordable accommodation that had a superb location¬†in another post. I also did a post on the Imperial War Museum which was our first order of business after checking in. So this post will be a mish-mash of everything we went to afterwards.

It’s no secret that we love museums so after the Imperial War Museum, The British Museum was up next on our list.¬†Before going there, however, we had to drop by Trafalgar Square to pick up our pre-ordered London Passes.¬†We will be needing them for the next couple of days. ūüėČ

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Churchill, Winston Churchill, Churchill War Rooms, London, Travel, History, World War II, WWII
in United Kingdom

Travel: The Churchill War Rooms (London, UK)

Churchill, Winston Churchill, Churchill War Rooms, London, Travel, History, World War II, WWII

Note: The Churchill War Rooms is part of Britain’s Imperial War Museums. If you want to check out my write up on the IWM London, click here.

Tucked in a corner by the Clive Steps in London is the entrance to one of my favourite stops during our Europe trip. The inconspicuous door ¬†leading to the Churchill War Rooms’ entrance was already modified to make it easier for people¬†to find it. However, a lot of¬†tourists who visit London¬†still walk past it, not knowing what it actually is and not even noticing it.

The Churchill War Rooms is composed of the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. It is¬†an underground complex built under the Treasury building in London¬†that¬†served as Britain’s command centre during World War II. It is where then Prime Minister Winston Churchill spent most of his time, making the most important decisions and plans back then.¬†The complex was abandoned in August 1945 after WWII and was preserved.

Churchill, Winston Churchill, Churchill War Rooms, London, Travel, History, World War II, WWII

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Travel, London, Imperial War Museum, World War, World War II, World War I, WWII, WWI, What to do in London, Where to go in London, London Travel, Europe, United Kingdom,
in United Kingdom

Travel: The Imperial War Museum (London)

Travel, London, Imperial War Museum, World War, World War II, World War I, WWII, WWI, What to do in London, Where to go in London, London Travel, Europe, United Kingdom,

On our first day in London, we decided to visit the Imperial War Museum (IWM). We were staying at a small hotel nearby and getting there meant just a three-minute walk. Whoopee!¬†Summer walks in London? Why don’t mind if I do. ūüėČ

IWM London is part of Britain’s Imperial War Museums¬†‚Äď a family of 5 establishments in the UK dedicated to keep the lessons of the past alive.

We’ve been to three of the five¬†during this trip and this is the first post on this series. Will be linking the other two here once they are up.

IWM London is housed in the former Bethlem Royal Hospital¬†and has¬†been there since the 30s. It’s quite hard to miss this building along Lambeth Road as right at the front¬†are two, 15-inch guns taken from the HMS Roberts and HMS Ramillies.

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The moment you walk inside, it is quite hard not to be impressed. You’ll be welcomed by a Harrier Jump Jet along with a couple more planes, rockets, and bombs. All are hung from the ceiling. We stood there gaping at them for a while.

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Travel, London, Europe, St Pancras Station, Paris to London, Train, Paris to London by Train, United Kingdom, UK
in United Kingdom

Travel: Arrival in London, The Real Platform 9 and 3/4, Plus Affordable Accommodation

Travel, London, Europe, St Pancras Station, Paris to London, Train, Paris to London by Train, United Kingdom, UK

Ah, delays. They have become a norm in this blog and even on the Youtube channel I started. I would apologise but I’m afraid that¬†won’t change anything so let me just jump right into the post.

We are still on our Europe trip but we will now discuss how we travelled from Paris to London. I’ve mentioned this before although I think I should just do so again: my husband is a huge fan of trains.

So during our trip, we took this mode of transportation whenever we could. Of course, we had to take into consideration the time and cost effectiveness of it whenever we chose between rail and flying. We also booked everything in advance to make sure we were getting good deals.

From Paris’ Gare du Nord station, we boarded the EuroStar that took us to London’s St Pancras station. We took the earliest train (we boarded at 7am) and I was practically sleep walking. However, we do want to make the most of our trip so sleep had to take a backseat during the whole three weeks that we were in Europe.

The journey took 2 hours and 17 minutes and most of it, I spent snoozing. Arrival at St Pancras was a breeze since British border control officials will already process your travel documents in Paris.

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Harry Potter, Harry Potter Studio Tour, London, Harry Potter London, Harry Potter UK, Studio Tour, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hogwarts, Studio, Leavesden, Travel, Europe,
in Europe, Travel, United Kingdom

Travel + Ultimate Guide: The Making of Harry Potter ‚Äď Studio Tour (UK)

We’re finally done with the Paris leg of our trip and we’re now in the UK! I’m so happy about getting through my backlog, bit by bit.

Today’s post is about one of my favourite bits of our Europe trip in 2015. This happens in the middle of our London leg but I opted to write about it first due to two reasons: 1.) It will be easier to link it to different posts and 2.) The first one is something I just made up the real and only reason is that I’m just hella excited to write about this one. So prepare yourselves. This is going to be a lengthy¬†post.

If you know me personally or if you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you probably¬†already know that I’m a humungous¬†Harry Potter fan. Yes, I’m a grown woman and no, I don’t care what you think. It came out when I was young, okay?!

Harry Potter, Harry Potter Studio Tour, London, Harry Potter London, Harry Potter UK, Studio Tour, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hogwarts, Studio, Leavesden, Travel, Europe,

It’s weird though how this isn’t my first time in Europe yet I only got to go to the studios during this trip. I guess timing really is one of life’s most important factors. That, and a companion (husband, in my case) willing to spend all day with you at a studio and watch you drool over things while being¬†such an insufferable know-it-all (see what I did there?) and the ultimate fan girl.

Before I move along, I just have to thank Alvin for being such a great husband. We even marathon-ed all 8 movies prior to the trip just so he can be up to date with HP knowledge. I really can’t believe he only saw one of the movies and he can’t even remember which one! Forgave him for not reading the books though. His interests do lay¬†in the¬†non-fiction section of the bookstore.

Though I must say, he did¬†look like he was enjoying himself in the studio in the end. Or… was he just humouring me?

Getting there

The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour is often advertised¬†to be in London but it’s actually in Leavesden ‚Äď an area that is actually 20 miles Northwest of Central London.

We took a train from from London Euston station to Watford Junction and the journey took a little over an hour so do take this into consideration!¬†Upon arrival in Watford, we took a double decker bus operated by Mullany’s Coaches to the studio. The bus stops right in front of the train station and is decked in Harry Potter decal so you won’t miss it. The bus ride takes about 10 minutes and will cost you GBP2.50 for a return ticket.

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Tickets

We booked our tickets through the official website months in advance to make sure we get slots. The studio does not sell tickets on-site. So, no walk-ins.

You will get your booking confirmation via e-mail which you can exchange for actual tickets upon your arrival. There are ticket counters right outside the studio. You also have the option to have your tickets mailed in advance to you for a hassle-free entry.

Our tickets amounted to GBP85.85 in total. The breakdown is as follows:

Adult tickets: GBP33.00 each (GBP66.00)

Paperback souvenir guidebook: GBP9.95

Digital guides: GBP4.95 each (GBP9.90)

Tip: If you’ve read most of the books, the digital guides may end up being useless to you. It’s pretty cool though. It has audio and video so you can watch some behind the scenes stuff. But it ended up being more useful to my husband. So reserve the guides for people in your group who are not that much of a die-hard fan. As for the paperback souvenir guide, get it. It’s a steal for the price and is an exclusive piece of merchandise from the studio. You can see me talking about it here at 20:30.

When booking your tickets, you get to¬†choose what time you want to start your tour.¬†This is the studio’s effort to do some crowd control since¬†it can get pretty congested. I suggest you go in the morning since people tend to stay longer and the afternoons will most likely leave the studio full with all the people from the morning tours, still lingering and taking photos. Our schedule was at 9:30 and we arrived to this:

Harry Potter, Harry Potter Studio Tour, London, Harry Potter London, Harry Potter UK, Studio Tour, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hogwarts, Studio, Leavesden, Travel, Europe,

Not to worry. The line moves pretty fast. While waiting, you also get to see the cupboard under the stairs.¬†It’s enough to get anybody who’s read the novels or seen the movies excited.

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The Great Hall

You will then be ushered in to a theatre room where a message from the cast will greet you. Cameras weren’t allowed so sorry if there are no photos of that. After the short film, guests will be guided¬†towards the doors of the Great Hall.

You can just feel the excitement in the air as kids dressed as Hogwarts students and adults who wished they could do the same and not be judged for it await for the doors to open.

Tip: Go on your birthday. They would normally pick you to open the enormous double doors and be the first to go inside.

Confession: I almost pretended like it was my birthday just to be the one to get to open the doors. Knowing that my husband may not look at me the same way again, stopped me. In the end, the privilege went to a kid dressed in Hogwarts robes with a Gryffindor scarf.

Harry Potter, Harry Potter Studio Tour, London, Harry Potter London, Harry Potter UK, Studio Tour, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hogwarts, Studio, Leavesden, Travel, Europe,

I did not scream nor run as I entered, I promise. I was able to retain my poise that’s normally reserved for diplomatic events that I attend with my husband. I was the perfect model of¬†calm and cool until I saw these:

Harry Potter, Harry Potter Studio Tour, London, Harry Potter London, Harry Potter UK, Studio Tour, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hogwarts, Studio, Leavesden, Travel, Europe,

And that’s when I started gushing and pointing at stuff. The fake food supposedly prepared by House Elves, the costumes worn by the cast (Tip: Look for the one worn by Daniel Radcliffe while filming Sorcerer’s Stone),¬†the utensils ‚Äď everything just lives up to expectation!

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Geneva, Travel, Europe, Summer, Summer 2015, Switzerland,
in Europe, Geneva, Switzerland, Travel

Travel: Photo Diary of our Geneva Day Trip (From Paris)

Hello, my loves. It feels so good to be finally over the Paris leg of the trip! It actually makes me feel that I’m getting over the backlog bit by bit.

I know the updates have been slow in this space (as well as the YouTube channel) but I’ve been so busy, there are days when I just don’t know where my day went. It’s bound to let up by the second week of March ‚Äď hopefully.

For now, let me share with you some photos from our day-trip to Geneva last August. We took a high speed train from Paris to Geneva early in the morning. The¬†TGV Lyria takes about 3 hours and 5 minutes from Gare de Lyon to Geneva’s Central Station.

Geneva, Travel, Europe, Summer, Summer 2015, Switzerland, TGV, Paris-Geneva Train, Eurail, Euro Rail, SNCF,

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Geneva, Travel, Europe, Summer, Summer 2015, Switzerland,

Since it was still too early for my brain to function, I slept most of the way. But every time I¬†opened my eyes in between naps, I was treated to a beautiful view. It is common knowledge that the French¬†country side is gorgeous but that is quite an understatement and the photos I have here do not give it justice. My excuses would have to be we were moving too fast and that the glass keeps reflecting the train’s interior.

Geneva, Travel, Europe, Summer, Summer 2015, Switzerland,

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The main reason for us making a side trip to Geneva is our friend Anne. She’s Alvin’s colleague from our Foreign Ministry and is currently assigned¬†there. We missed her, obviously. ūüėČ

Geneva, Travel, Europe, Summer, Summer 2015, Switzerland,

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Paris, Travel, France, River Cruise, Seine Cruise, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, City Cruise, Lafayette, Paris Shopping,
in France

Travel: Paris River Cruise + Travel and Saving Tips for Your Trip to Paris

Finally on my last installment for Paris! Since I’m writing this in the middle of the night as I suffer from monthly lady pains, I’m just gonna make this a quickie post. Also, so I can proceed to writing about Geneva next. ūüėČ

After our half-day trip to the Versailles, my husband and I quickly went back to the city to do some last minute shopping for souvenirs and sight seeing. We first dropped by the Palai Garnier which is the official home of the Paris Opera.

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It’s definitely a grand building and a pleasure to look at. After exploring that area for a bit, we went straight to the Galeries Lafayette. Not to splurge or anything but to just stare and be in awe of the ceiling. Yes, we’re kinda weird. But just look at it!

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We walked around, getting lost in rows and rows of shops till it was almost sunset. We made our way back to the Eiffel Tower so we can catch a river cruise along the Seine. We wanted to do the cruise at the right moment to maximise what we could get out of it.

Normally, we wouldn’t make much effort just to join a cruise but since the ticket was included in our Paris Pass, we decided that it might be a good way to end our trip.

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