After only two short weeks in Munich I was off to London with the family. Having only ever seen the Victoria Coach Station this past summer, I was really excited to finally have a chance to explore the beautiful and crowded city.
I spent my first day at the Georgian Restaurant at Harrods for afternoon tea. I also went there with the mission to find the Harrods teddy bear my dad had gotten from me over a decade before when he had visited London. I was so excited find the 2013 version of this classic teddy bear!
The next day I took the kids with me to do all of the stereo-typical sightseeing in London: the Buckingham and Kensington Palace, Westminster Abby, Big Ben, the London Eye, and the V&A Museum. One of the best perks of London is that all of their museums are free! But with that perk comes extremely long lines and lots of whining children. So unfortunately the museum visits were very brief.
In the build-up to the London trip I had introduced Harry Potter to the kids so that I could take them (with selfish intentions) to Harry Potter Land at the Warner Brother Studios. Unfortunately I created “Harry Potter monsters”. By the time we had arrived in London the kids were completely obsessed with the series and would shout random spells, such as “Luminus” or “Expeliarmus” at random people while on the London tube.
The kids also wanted me to take them to all of the parts of London where scenes from Harry Potter took place. First stop: Platform 9 and ¾ at Kings Cross Station. In the past, my experiences with train stations had been stressful and unpleasant. But this time I was beyond excited to go in, so much so that I was basically running with the kids. As expected, there was a long line to take your picture at the platform. Next to Platform 9 and ¾ is a Harry Potter shop that looks nearly identical to Olivander’s wand shop.
While standing in line Xavi, who is five years old, started crying. When I asked him what was wrong he responded by saying, “I don’t know the spell to get back through the wall! What if I am stuck there all by myself forever?!” I tried to hold back my laughter and could not help but smile at the fact that Xavi was a true Harry Potter fan and believer 🙂
The next day I took a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge. Going to Bath is an English Major’s dream. Home of The Canteberry Tales (Wife of Bath) and host to Jane Austen and her family for a couple of years (there is a street called “Bennett”—possibly the inspiration for the name in her book “Pride and Prejudice”), Bath, England is a beautiful, tranquil, and calm city that has survived thousands of years of history.
The city got its name from the natural hot spring baths that were found there. As stories go, this magical water with forty three different minerals healed people of leprosy. When the Romans, who were known for loving baths, found this area they built a beautiful structure around the hot springs. But this water is known for more than just curing diseases. It is also said to have made Queen Victoria pregnant after many years of infertility.
After I finished my tour of the Roman Baths I had the opportunity to taste some of the water. This magical water was extremely bitter and left a horrible after-taste in my mouth. I found out that the city of Bath is also known for their numerous bakeries and famous “bunns”. This correlates with the foul taste of the water, as biscuits quickly gets rid of the taste. Bakeries were common near these hot springs even during the time of the Romans, as Sally Lunn’s bakery basement is home to the oldest building in Bath—a Roman bakery.
So I decided to have lunch at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party—which is an Alice in Wonderland themed café) for British tea and biscuits.
The next stop on the tour was Stonehenge! Some people complain that the three hour trip was not worth it to just look at a group of rocks in the middle of a giant plain. But when taking into account how heavy these stones are, the non-existence of technology thousands of years ago, and the original location of the rocks is hundreds of miles away, then this simple “rock circle” becomes an incredible feat.
While staring at these stones, I could not help but wonder what the original purpose of this formation was. Some say that it was used as a calendar, as the rocks line up with the sun. But the multiple grave-mounds around the stones suggest that there was a greater purpose.
It was raining the entire day, but right before I left Stonehenge the clouds parted and a beautiful rainbow appeared over the stones.