A trip to London, pt 1


Recently we crossed the channel to visit London to fill some time in the school holidays. All of us were pretty excited at visiting the old town and most importantly, making the journey to Warner Brother Studios to take the “Making of Harry Potter Tour” – yay!
That would have to wait for our second day. The first day was going to be spent on a hop on, hop off bus tour. TW and I had previously done one about 12 years ago and were impressed with the route and the information so why not do it again? It would be perfect for a 7 year old, constantly moving scenery, audio commentary about the weird and wonderful history of London, great! Well, as we soon discovered, it was not to be the case.
Firstly, we took the tube to the start point of the tour. The company we chose had many points on their route where you could get on and off, but we decided on the main one outside of the Tower of London. Contrary to the info on the website, we arrived at the stop only to find that they were now operating on reduced hours and as a result, we had a couple of hours up our sleeves. So, plan B. Catch a train to Leadenhall Market – one of the filming locations for Harry Potter. Leadenhall Market was used in the first movie and was a basis for the concept of Diagon Alley. It dates back to the 1800’s and the ornate features of it’s walls and covered walkways make it worth a visit in it’s own right. From there it was off to King’s Cross station for more piccies of filming locations and as it turns out, there was a stop for our tour right outside – bonus. Not to miss an opportunity to make a buck, there is a conveniently placed Harry Potter gift shop in the main concourse of the station where all manner of overpriced Potter merchandise can be found. CA had been given some money to spend on what she wanted and came away with a snowy owl which she proceeded to carry everywhere from that moment on. We soon had enough of the merchandising and walked out to the bus stop, only to discover that there were very few buses from our tour company that made the stop there. The next one was 30 minutes away, but we were told by an employee of another company that another stop with more frequent busses could be found around the corner “near Madame Tussauds”. This turned out to be complete crap and after wandering for ages, we turned around and headed back to where we started, making it back just before the bus was due to arrive. Incidently, whilst we’d been waiting and walking back and forth, at least 3 buses from each of the other companies had driven past… So, waiting, waiting, arrival time comes. Arrival time goes. 20 minutes pass. TW is now wearing her cranky pants. I’m trying to be philosophical, but deep down inside, I just want a beer. TW decides to call the tour company to find out if there is a problem. No, there’s no problem, how are they expected to keep track of the buses and be responsible for London traffic the incredibly helpful person tells TW over the phone. We are all hungry now, and TW is feeling like a beer after all that. It’s decided that we will go to a pub for a typical London pub lunch. Off we went to the nearest pub which, turned out sold overpriced, franchise menu food. Still, the food was hot and the beer cold so we stopped there for a while, looking out the window for any sign of a bus from our tour company (just out of interest). The whole time we were waiting and sitting in the pub, at least 7 buses from one company and 8 from another went past with no sign of ours. Normally I would have given up by now, but we’d paid in advance to save time waiting in a queue LOL.
After a dissatisfying lunch, we made our way back to the original departure point near the Tower and were lucky enough to find a bus waiting. Lucky, I find is an over-used word. Our tour ended up being total rubbish. Full of trivia about Will and Kate and the Royals, and the historical information was either missing or incomplete. For example, we passed the statue of Boudica, the warrior queen of Britain, but she didn’t get a mention. The MI6 headquarters building down the river got a mention because it was in a James Bond film. Funnily enough, we were all being told to look left down the river towards MI6 building as we passed the MI5 building. Coincidence? No, I didn’t get the impression this company was that clever. Anyway, it went on like that, full of obscure references to fuck all making the whole commentary disjointed and annoying. They sucked.
A fortunate bonus was that our tickets included a boat tour of the Thames which amazingly turned out to be rather nice.


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