Where to start.
The past couple of days have been packed with a lot of good quality sightseeing and tourism. Funny thing is, I don’t feel the need to linger at the major sights. Big Ben is awesome, and Buckingham Palace is great–but it is really strange trying to be a tourist in a place you are currently living in. There is not as much anxiety about fitting it all in.
So with free days to spare, we explored as many nooks of the city as possible. On the top of our list for this week was to visit Borough Market near the London Bridge stop. With over 100 stalls, this market is enormous and has a rich history in the area.
The vendors are absolutely incredible, and more than willing to let you sample their products. On one trip I was able to try cured venison sausages, pigeon butter (omg, I know…sounds gross, but it wasn’t bad), fresh blue cheese, and tons of olive oil and bread samples. But I didn’t buy one thing because there was so much selection! Even so, I see some meat pies and chocolate truffles in my future. For more information on Borough market visit here.
I did finish the day off with a proper fish and chips–and by proper just fried cod and french fries with plenty of malt vinegar! Nothing more comforting really in the London weather.
The next day was a special treat. Our professor from school, who will be teaching us one of our classes, arranged a visit to the Warner Bros. studio tour, the Harry Potter experience. I am not a diehard Harry Potter fan, but I have watched all of the movies and have read the books twice. And I am also really into the behind the scenes aspect of film production–so the film nerd in me was pretty psyched.
Look it’s one of the actual windows Harry would look out of all sulky and depressed!
Oh! And a large chunk of the potions classroom set!
And the Burrow with creepy headless mannequins wearing clothing the Weasley’s wore.
There were a lot of sets like this, you could see Dumbledore’s office, and fireplaces from the Ministry of Magic, and even 4 Privet Drive was there. Quite overwhelming actually, but I found some highlights.
The graphics section was quite incredible, full of typography and branding for all of the products created for the films–everything from Quibblers, to train tickets, to class lists, and those faithful Hogwarts letters were specially made for the movie. Probably the most creative project for a graphic designer to sink their teeth into ever.
Walking down the Diagon Alley set was great–it is just like walking on a real cobblestone street, and the details on the storefronts are impressive. It would almost be like the real deal, if everyone was not a tourist taking pictures and the entire thing was not lit by a weird hazy purple light.
But what really stood out was the giant scale model of the entire grounds of Hogwarts. This was so large, and so detailed–probably the closest thing to Hogwarts. What is funny is that to create this world so easily scaled, the studio needed to hire hundreds of people to work on everything from the scale models to the actual carpenters, and designers and artists. A lot of work went into the making of the films–and the studio tour keeps that spirit alive. For more information on it, visit the webpage over here.
The Harry Potter tour somehow took the entire day–we were able to see Olympic park on the trip there, and go through central London on the way back which was stellar.
The next day we woke up rather early to peruse the shops and markets in Hackney and Shoreditch–two towns that used to be rather unpleasant, but have since been gentrified. Urban theory aside, these two places provide excellent eats and sights that definitely fit with my sensibilities.
People with bikes, dogs, and strollers gather on the streets and nearing shops for an interesting selection of food and a lively atmosphere. You can sit outside in front of a cafe, or just pick and choose throughout Broadway Market. Ranging from savory pies and tarts to boxes filled with Indian food–even a vegetable and fruit stand that has been an institution there for almost 50 years.
We had only half an hour at the market, but I was able to have the seared tuna steak roll from Fin & Flounder, which was exactly what I was craving, as well as a piece of spiced carrot cake from another vendor. I have been eating my meals at the flat with my fingers, because I am brilliant and keep forgetting to buy forks, but I was able to pick up some cheap eco-utensils, those fork/spoon/knife combination tools from the Netherlands, I believe? Regardless, I left knowing I was going to be going back very soon and with a very happy stomach. For more information on the market click here, and for more information of Fin & Flounder, click here.
A couple blocks over we were on Columbia Road, the cutest street in the area really. It is full with shop after shop–everything from lifestyle stores to bakeries, vintage clothing stores, to a hair salon, I believe. Every place has a charming graphic quality to it, like Treacle, a bakery with a wine shop next door. Didn’t buy anything, but our professor bought a few bottles of wine for us all to share.
This has been quite a lengthy post, eh? And that wasn’t even the end of the day. I will try to compose another post as soon as possible on our visit to Shoreditch as well as our London tourist day. This morning I attempted to make pasta and meat sauce, but I feel like something is a bit off about it–most likely the canned tomatoes I used…
I had my first day of classes, but I am going to wait until I have had all of them to write about them.
I also plan on writing a post about what I regret not bring abroad with me, and what I am very happy I did. Mostly fun for me to do, but I think it could help some of my friends reading along. Yo, mom if you’re reading this, don’t freak and send me everything I didn’t bring.
Until then, cheers.