Like any good children from the 90's Emily and I are avid Harry Potter fans and as we had spent my 22nd birthday at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Universal Studios we thought it was only fitting that we spend my 23rd at the Warner Brothers Studio tour in London. I could literally devote an entire blog to the wonders of this magical place but I will try to keep it short and to the point.
Point one. If you are a Harry Potter fan than you MUST go here. It is like a sacred pilgrimage. Seriously there should be a test to get in some days so that only the truly devoted are allowed inside. Those muggles lovers just get in the way and give you weird looks when you start to get emotional in Dumbledore's office.
Point two. Get the audio guide and book deal. The audio guide really completes the experience for crazed fans like myself. If you find yourself grinning like a child with a new toy any time you discover a new tidbit about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the internet that the audio guide will be like a dream come true. The book is of course a must because you can pull it out in a few weeks when you get the shakes from Harry Potter withdrawl.
Point three. Eat all of the things and do all of the photo-ops even if you don't intend on buying them. I had no intention of shelling out money for a cheesy photo of me flying through London but that does not mean that I was not going to hop on that mechanical broom and take it for a joy ride.
Point four. LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS
Right so we saw more of London than just the Warner Brothers Studio though that was clearly the best part. We also went on the Original Bus Tour, which I highly suggest no matter how long you are in London as it is a cheap way to see a lot of the city, it gets you off your feet for a bit and the audio guide provides lot's of interesting tidbits. We also went to see a show in the West End, you can get half price tickets at the subway station and went on a stroll through Hyde Park. Hyde Park was probably one of my other favorite London sights, it is a gorgeous park with lots to do and it's nice to slow it down in London every once and awhile. Emily and I also found the most amazing tree. If anyone else can find it please re-blog with pictures!!
Last thing I have to say about London is be prepared to spend money. Emily and I spent almost half of our budget in London alone. Transport and food are expensive here and while there are lots of sights to see for free the truly spectacular tend to cost you a bit. London is well worth seeing so just spend more time planning it out. Get an oyster card (for the subway and buses), be willing to stay a little farther from the center and remember that you can always come back.
I feel I should preface this next section by saying that I am a tinsy bit obsessed with Robin Hood. With that said I must recommend Ezekial Bone's Robin Hood walking tour. Not only did he dress up as Robin himself to show us around but he provided us with a historically accurate (I know, I was a history major) view on the Robin Hood legend and the part Nottingham played in this beloved legends evolution. For those not as obsessed with the man in tights he also gave a brief history of Nottingham itself and took us into one of the over 500 underground caves where people once lived and beer was once brewed.
We did not have much time in Nottingham but I would definitely go back. There is a tour dedicated to the underground caves, there is a Robin Hood festival and brew fest in October. The atmosphere of the town itself is really awesome and then of course there is Sherwood Forest to explore. We did manage to go to one other place I would recommend should you ever find yourself in the area. It is a bar/restaurant called the Pitcher and Piano and it is housed in an old church. Not only did they have fantastic drinks and dessert but the conversion from church to bar was smashingly done.
We were unable to stay with family or friends for either of these stops. Whilst in London we stayed at the Dover Castle hostel right off the tube and we stayed in a pretty reasonably priced hotel in Nottingham since all of the hostels were booked.