London Calling

I remember looking out the window from our 10-hour straight flight from Las Vegas to London-Gatwick and seeing all the green fields, clouds and fog. The pilot then announces that we are on our final approach, and we'll be on the ground shortly. I was trying to take it all my excitement in--I'm in London. 

Our first stop: Notting Hill. After watching the movie years ago when I was a teen, it's been my dream to visit this little town. My goals: to visit the house with the blue door, the Travel & Co. book store and sit on the bench where Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant sat. To my dismay, there was no house with a blue door nor a Travel & Co. book store, and the bench was located in a private village inside where no one can visit. Talk about crushed dreams! But, it was still a beautiful experience to walk through here. We visited the Portobello market, little stalls where they sold antiques, food stalls and bookstores. Lovely! 

Trafalgar Square. Located at the heart of London, we were able to pass by for a quick snapshot while riding the Big Bus Tour of London. It was very tourist-y, but it was a cheap way to get around. Taxi cabs here will cost you an arm and a leg. 

What was awesome about the Big Bus Tour is that we can hop on and hop off at different stops. We were able to see Big Ben up close and personal. Interesting fact I learned from this stop: This is called the Parliament Square, Big Ben is part of the Palace of Westminster, and that Londoners hate this clock. 

The Westminster Abbey. I couldn't believe this was right in front of me. I remember watching Royal Weddings on television and wishing I was there. This was a remarkable landmark.

Buckingham Palace. I could imagine the royals waving to the public in that little balcony. The flag isn't there though, meaning they're not home. 

We took the London Tube (exciting!) to the Euston-Watford junction, which took us directly to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour of London for the ultimate Harry Potter fan experience! We got to see all the sets where they filmed the movies. Everything looked gigantic in the movie but in reality, everything was miniature. Even the Great Hall was not-so-great.

This is the Hogwarts Castle they used to film aerial views in the movie. It's an enormous dollhouse!

The following day, we took a tour that would bring us to the Windsor Castle, Stone Henge and Bath. Here are some guards at the Windsor Castle participating in the "Changing of the Guards."

Oh, Stone Henge. I'm still awed that I got to see this with my own eyes. This photo was taken when we were in the bus, only because it just so happened that this attraction is closed for the day. They say that they close two days out of the year, and we happen to land on one of those days (how lucky are we?). This still gives me goosebumps. There is nothing around these mysterious rocks besides plain green fields. It really makes you wonder how these rocks formed.

This is the Public Roman Baths in Bath, England. It was such a pleasure to see so much English history while going through the museum here.

Back in Central London, we make our way through Regent street, Oxford street, Piccadilly Circus, going through all the famous stores in London. Liberty, Self Ridges & Harrod's are my favorites! This particular display of Fornasetti caught my eye right away.

Spent the rest of the day hopping on and off the Big Bus Tour again. Here's the London Eye, but we didn't bother to ride it. It's one of those things where it's quite pleasant to see but spending Pounds on riding it isn't quite worth it.

Boxing day in London - day after Christmas where all the shops are closed. What to do? We took a taxi cab from our hotel to visit the infamous Abbey Road. The road has definitely changed since the Beatles, but it was still pretty awesome to snap a quick photo here. There was literally a line of tourists crossing this street back and forth (I bet the locals around this area hate this street by now). 

Next stop: PARIS!