We were very eager to buy our plane tickets to London since this is where our great journey began. We had really enjoyed our first visit in this city and sincerely regretted not having more time. The idea of spending another week there, during the low season, delighted us. Our first observation coming out from the plane was that it was cold outside, very cold. We had to get our down jackets and pants out of the bottom of our bags. We can’t really complain, considering that we have dodged winter this year, but we really felt the temperature difference of about 20°C between Kuala Lumpur and London. We took advantage of our week in London to visit some places that we had not had time to see during our first visit. We also took some time to sit down to enjoy some sandwiches and pastries over an afternoon tea.
London Museum of Natural History
The day after our arrival in Europe we were still feeling the jet lag strongly so we decided to visit only one museum. The average duration of the visit according to Google was between 2 and 3 hours, perfect for a short and relax day, right? In fact, this museum is one of the largest museum in the city and we ended up being thrown out at the end of the day without having had time to see everything. This museum, unique in the world, was founded in 1881, well before the two world wars and includes among other things the collections of James Cook and Charles Darwin … incredible! The building itself is breathtakingly beautiful and shelters more than 80 million of animal and plant species from all over the globe and beyond. We loved the exhibition on human evolution, on volcanoes and natural disasters, on dinosaurs and the Darwin center that we did in a hurry, 30 minutes before closing time. This museum is a must see for science, history or anthropology enthusiasts.
Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio
If Harry Potter was a planetary success, in London the success is so great that the English people consider the work of JK Rowling as a piece of English literature of historical importance as much as other great classics such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and others. The visit of the studios is a must-do pilgrimage for real Harry Potter fans and you need to buy tickets a minimum of one month in advance as it is literally impossible to buy tickets on-site. Since Kolya read the complete series and Hugo is now reading the 4th volume, we thought this activity would be a great activity to reward our great readers. The whole family was dazzled by this wonderful experience. For ten years, a film crew occupied these sets and we were able to visit some iconic places such as the grand hall or the boys dormitory. We rarely saw Hugo so excited to do an activity. After spending several hours exploring the studio, having drank a Butter-beer, and flown on a magic broom, it was with a big smile and magic in our eyes that we took went back to London, exhausted from our magnificent day.
This museum is the most visited in Great Britain for a reason. This museum, established in 1753 contains more than 7 million objects (50,000 in exhibition), and deals with history and human culture. What to say about this museum? A full day is not enough to see all the treasures in this cavern of Alibaba. Everyone can find something they like, including Egyptian mummies, Parthenon relics, or clothing and belongings belonging to American First Nations people. Over the course of history, the British have conquered and colonized a multitude of countries around the world and being great collectors, have brought back a multitude of important pieces in England. It’s unique treasures from these collectors that we can see there, for free.
The British Library and Regent Park
A slightly less popular visit to London is the visit of the British Library. It is not for the architecture that one should visit this building, but for the documents it contains that are of inestimable value. It is possible to examine manuscripts written by Leonardo Da Vinci, the lyrics of the Beatles scribbled on a yellow sheet, or the first manuscript Bibles, including the pages of the oldest known edition of the world. We also visited Regent Park, a few blocks away. We were able to observe the magic of spring: Magnolia in bloom, buds in the trees and flowers in the flowerbeds were present everywhere. All of this is adorned by several water fountains and almost made us forget that we were in the middle of the city of London.
The Geffrye Museum and the Tate Britain Museum
We also visited two other interesting museums, the Geffrye and the Tate Britain. The Geffrye is not as popular as other museums and it’s by chance that we entered there as we were walking in the neighbourhood. This museum is dedicated to the living rooms (parlors) of the middle class through time. We really liked this museum because it allowed us to see the evolution of the British middle class through the ages, passing from a few bourgeois in the 1600s to the dominant class of today. We saw a special exhibition on teenager bedrooms, Kolya really enjoyed this part of the visit and made big plans for when we return home. We also visited the Tate Britain, a museum dedicated to the evolution of English art for the last 500 years. This visit was also very interesting and we were able to see unique pieces such as Ophelia by John Everett Millais and a Francis Bacon.
It is with great pleasure that we renewed with the audio-guided walks of Rick Steves. We did not know about those at the time of our first visit to London and missed out. We were able to walk the historic part of London and learn more about the impact of the Great Fire, the Plague and the Second World War on central London. In the second walk, we visited the Westminster area where we learned a little more about the past and current political life of the United Kingdom.
This week spent in London was very busy and went by way too fast. Although we were busy everyday, we still feel that we have only visited a small part of what this city has to offer. We will have to come back one day. In addition, we have renewed with the pleasure of eating homemade cooking, raw vegetables and drinking tap water. All these things that we take for granted and that our stay in Asia has taught us to appreciate more.