8 Must-Do Things in London

There are probably hundreds of things to do in London. So I’m going to start with 8 of my favorites. Here are 8 things you must check out and experience while in London.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is a must for anyone visiting London. Indulge in your favorite treats like scones, small sandwiches and macarons while sipping on your favorite tea of choice. Visit the Ritz in London for a luxury afternoon experience or at Number 16 for a picture-perfect afternoon in a lush outdoor garden. No matter the time of day or your location of choice you can’t go wrong with afternoon tea in London.

Harry Potter Studios

Maybe you’ve read my blog on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and know what a huge Potter fan I am, but even so-so fans can appreciate Harry Potter Studios in London. See props from the movies, the Hogwarts model that was used to film the outside shots, costumes, Doby’s face – you name it. This place is wicked cool. The studio is located 20 miles outside of the London city-center and you can either take the train or hire the Harry Potter Studios bus. Plan ahead because tickets do sell out.

Big Ben and Parliament

This is London. All the photos you see, every time London is in a movie you see Big Ben. I’m just thankful that Big Ben and the English Parliament survived WWII. That is one thing I like about London is the contrast between new and old, and what was built before and after the war. I remember the first time I looked up at Big Ben I swore I saw Peter Pan and Wendy flying around the clock’s face. You’ll have to visit this site twice because day and night both offer unique views.

Tower of London

I love how old this place in. The oldest building – the White Tower – was build in the 1000s. Most people visit the Tower of London to see the crown jewels, but the history is fascinating. We all know about the infamous torture chamber, but that wasn’t the only place where people died. I’m convinced this place is haunted, and they should host a night tour. I thought of a movie when some thieves break in after hours to steal the Crown Jewels, but then have to deal with the ghosts and tortured souls of the tower. But definitely check it out, well worth the entry fee.

Buckingham Palace

Who doesn’t want to see where the royals live? While there might not be any royals there when you visit because they have multiple places, it’s still a cool thought. Try to make a guard laugh, and enjoy a walk around the grounds. The gardens nearby are beautiful, and Buckingham Palace is located near Hyde Park which is a great place to spend an afternoon walking around.

Jack the Ripper Tour

You might say I have a thing for scary things. I like adventure, and scary stories tend to get my adrenaline running, so I guess you can say they are a type of adventure. East London in the 1800s was not a nice place. It where the poor lived and where most of the crime happened. It isn’t necessarily a nice place today, but still worth checking out. Plus, for my Harry Potter fans, you’ll recognize a lot of East London from Diagon Alley. The tour guide will take you to different places when victims of Jack the Ripper were found and then show you photos, so you can see what that area looked like 130 years ago. I’m waiting for this tour to partner with augmented reality, that is going to be insane.

Ride the Underground

It’s a right of passage to ride “The Tube” in London. If you’ve never been on a subway system before, the London underground might seem a little daunting, but it definitely is a convenient and quick way to get around the city. The city bus is definitely cheaper, but everyone has to ride The Tube at least once. Pick up your Oyster card right away – it will be good for the underground and the city bus. The underground charges you based on how far you travel and what zones you travel through, so check the price sheet when loading your card, and don’t forget to “Mind the Gap.”

See a Play

Head to the West End and see a show. London has a similar selection of Broadway shows as New York City – The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Hamilton. But the longest-running show belongs to the Mousetrap. It’s been going for 59 years. I saw The Lion King. London definitely fulfilled a lot of childhood dreams between Peter Pan and Big Ben, Harry Potter and seeing the Lion King in action. If you’re not sure which play to see I recommend the Lion King, though I do want to see the Cursed Child (duh), and School of Rock (another childhood favorite movie). The West End is near Covent Garden which is a touristy area full of shops, restaurants and pubs good to visit before or after your play.

There is so much to see and do in London. I didn’t even get into the museums, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kings Cross or Abbey Way. Really you have to pick your favorites and then plan for a return trip. Have you been to London? Leave me a comment below and tell me your favorite must-do in London.

Until next time…



3 Days at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando

I closed Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows after reading the series for the second time and decided it was time to make a trip to Florida and immerse myself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I convinced my best friend to join the party, my sister was currently stationed at NAS Jacksonville, so she was down to join and would bring a friend from her squadron. We were fully prepared to geek out for the next three days.

Couple of notes before I get to the good stuff. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into two sections – Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Diagon Alley is located inside Universal Studios Orlando and Hogsmede is located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can go between the two parks by riding the Hogwarts Express! If you want the full Harry Potter experience buy the multi-day park hopper pass. We spent three days in Harry Potter World, and I felt that I had seen and experienced everything I wanted too.

We went in April which I thought was perfect. It was shorts and tank top weather, but not overbearingly hot. As Goldilocks would say, it was just right. Harry Potter World is an attraction in Universal Studios, but it’s the reason why we were there. The second we made it through security it was a mad dash for Diagon Alley! Before you walk through the magical brick wall, you will see the Knights Bus parked outside 13 Grimmauld Place and Kings Cross Station. Then you walk through the brick corridor and are instantly transported to Diagon Alley. The first two shops are The Leaky Caldron and Wesley’s Wizard Wheezes, but your eye is instantly drawn to the fire breathing dragon perched on top of Gringotts Bank.

Once you’ve started breathing again, it’s time to start exploring. Check out Ollivanders, exchange your muggle money for wizard money that you can use in the park and get yourself a Butterbeer! The park even brews their own Harry Potter Themed beer. Cruise down Knockturn Alley and peak inside Borgin and Burke’s. The only ride in Diagon Alley is inside Gringotts, and it was by far my favorite ride. You take a trip deep into the vaults, and have to make a quick escape when Voldemort shows up! Make sure you explore every nook and cranny. So much detail was put into the design, that you can easily spend ½ your day there – which I’m pretty sure we did. My sister wanted to ride some other rides, so we had to head back to the muggle world.

The second day we entered through Islands of Adventure to check out Hogsmeade. This might be the only place you’ll ever see snow in Florida. While in Hogsmeade, you must do what our favorite trio does and stop for some Butterbeer at the Three Broom Sticks and get your chocolate frog at Honeydukes. I can’t tell you how excited I was when the charge on my credit card statement read, “Honeydukes.” The first ride is Flight of the Hippogriff which is like your typical rollercoaster except you can pick which dragon you want which will vary your experience. Hopefully, the line isn’t too long, so you can ride all three. Watch the Durmstrang dance on the stage and make your way to Hogwarts! This is another moment where you’ll want to make sure you’re still breathing.

Hogwarts is an interactive 3D ride, and the line takes you through the corridors of the castle. It was my second favorite ride. We took a break in the outdoor patio of the Three Broom Sticks where we tried all the different varieties of Butterbeer – frozen, cold, ice cream and potted cream – while gazing at Hogwarts in the distance. The Islands of Adventure park had more rides that my group liked, so we ventured back into the muggle world to check some of them out.

At this point, we had not taken the Hogwarts Express yet! So, before we concluded day 2, we boarded the train to from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross. I unloaded the candies I had bought at Honeydukes – chocolate frogs and Bernie Botts Every Flavored Bean when the train started to shake. We heard a voice that told us to stay put, and the cabin lights dimmed. Then we heard a thud, and a dementor was at our window! We saw another one at the door of our train cabin, but luckily Harry was there to cast Expecto Patronum. Did I mention I really like Harry Potter? We made one last stop at the Leaky Caldron and called it a day, plus the park was closing.

My sister and her friend did not join us for day 3, they had to report back to base, so she took off and my friend and I headed back to Harry Potter World that afternoon for round 3. We rode rides twice that we really liked, did some shopping. I really wanted a Gryffindor tank top since that is my house, but I could only find the Dark Mark (yes, I got it). We took the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade and then again back to Kings Cross. We were sitting at a table in Diagon Alley enjoying a Harry Potter themed brewed beer when a voice came over the intercom and said the park was closing. I felt pretty proud that I closing down Diagon Alley. It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip that was all things Harry Potter.

So, would I go again? Absolutely, and I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time. Plus, I read they have a new ride coming out. I haven’t been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios LA, but that one is condensed on a much smaller scale. I’m sure I would love it just as much, and it’s a lot closer to home. Okay, now that you have read my blog, I have a request – go do something Harry Potter. Start reading one of the books, download the audio books, watch a movie or book a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! And when you do, tweet me @keeliec5, so we can nerd out over Harry Potter together.

Until next time…




So far anytime I had asked someone who had recently travelled to London, “How was it?” “I’m headed there soon?” They all responded, “Expensive.” I thought to myself, do I look poor? I kind of bought my own plane ticket from the west coast to Europe. I think I can afford a few days in London. I didn’t think London would be cheap. But I knew I would be able to make due. With the shortened days; I arrived in London just as the sun was setting. I asked the receptionist of the place where I was staying if London was worth seeing at night. She almost laughed, said London is quite beautiful at night, and then pointed to a poster of London at night behind her. The entire city was illuminated. Not quite like Times Square, but similar to the New York skyline at night. I was slowly becoming a master at the London “tube”. Subway. It is more expensive than the bus, but so convenient and easy and fast. I’m not counting pennies yet, so I take the subway. I don’t know if I can accurately describe how I was feeling when I emerged from the subway and first saw Big Ben.


He was across the street from me. Massive, lit up and brilliant as ever. I did a large loop around Westminster, Parliament, and the London Eye. The weather was perfect for a winter’s night in London. I walked along the Thames river and saw Parliament, in its entirety, lit up, and listened to Big Ben ring. I envisioned Peter Pan flying with Wendy, Michael and John in front of Big Ben’s face (don’t judge haha). I also felt like a part of the Mouse Detective and kept a look out for Ratigan. The London Eye was closed unfortunately. As with the dungeon. Easy way to not spend money if everything is closed. I made my large loop around the river and retired for the night. Tomorrow was Harry Potter. (Insert heart eyes emoji now). I saw the large sign that read Harry Potter Studios. I saw the chest pieces outside. I was smiling from ear to ear. I walked inside, saw the Christmas tree still set up, the pictures of them from book one and then book 7. Ahh, I totally grew up with these guys. I put on my Gryffindor uniform and entered the world of Harry Potter with Karen the Slytherin and Stephen the Hufflepuff (aka peacekeeper haha) I’m not quite sure how to explain this place because some things you just need to experience for yourself, but it was like being in the movie. Which makes sense considering it was the movie set. Something I found interesting was how small some of the rooms were because they looked massive on screen. The Great hall and Gryffindor Common room for example. It’s amazing how camera angles can manipulate everything. You could ride a broomstick on the green screen. See the Goblet of Fire which actually lit a flame and spit out a name (one guess), The Burrow, Malfoy’s Manor, the costumes used. They have the Hogwarts Express, Platform 9 3/4, Privet Drive, Godric’s Hollow, and Dumbledore’s office. The bird statue outside his office. The entire place was magical. The entire production was impressive, but one that stood out to me was the replica of Hogwarts grounds. Basically they built a smaller (but quite large) replica of Hogwarts, and how it looks from the outside or a panoramic view. They used this model for the panoramic shots of the castle. So no, there isn’t really a Hogwarts Castle look-a-like in the UK. I had some butterbeer, and made my way through the giftshop. A day with Harry and his friends was tiresome, but one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I had one more full day left in London. So much to do and so little time. I finally bought an Oyster card which is the first thing I should of done in London. Its basically a pay as you go card for the subway and the bus, and you get a subway rate 50% cheaper than if you paid cash. I wanted to see Big Ben and Parliament during the day so I wandered up there, and after walking around a bit I made my way to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. The weather was less than ideal today. A bit drizzly, windy, but luckily not terribly cold. The Globe Theater was disappointing. You can only see a smidge of it. Otherwise its all covered by new walls they have built and you have to pay to go inside. I have come to notice that about all attractions all over the world. People want to make money somehow. In a distance I saw what I thought was London bridge. Then I realized that London bridge is quite boring to look at. It was Tower bridge I spotted from a distance. I made my way towards it when I stumbled across St Paul’s Cathedral. I say stumbled because I had no idea it existed. It was gorgeous, and I’m glad I was abe to see it. Then I came across the Tower of London. You know, the place where they beheaded people. I decided to pay money and go inside the Tower of London. Only 22 people were executed there. Most were killed on Tower Hill which was nearby, but doesn’t exist anymore from what I can see. Pretty sure its a Mcdonald’s now. However, the place was still creepy and I now it’s haunted. I wouldn’t want to be the only living soul walking around that place at night. I saw the crown jewels, and the Line of Kings. Heard the story of the two prince boys that were murdered by their uncle, so they couldn’t take the throne and then buried under some stairs. One of the building was from the year 1040 I believe. White Tower. I think the York Wall may still be older, but probably not by much. I saw the torture chamber, and where they kept the wild and exotic animals before they were sent off to the London Zoo. I would look at the view from the Tower of London and once again would see a mixture of old brick buildings over 500 years old, and in the same skyline some modern glass building from the 1990s. I’d say its unique to London, but I haven’t seen the rest of Europe yet. I think it may be unique to Europe. My last day in London I met my cousin for lunch, and he happens to work near all the shops. Its probably for the best I didn’t get to spend a lot of time there, but have I mentioned I will probably go back? I needed to head back to Worthing to do some laundry and swap out some clothes. It’s time for my journey to South Africa. I know, I have a really random itinerary. A few things I picked up on London is everyone runs with a backpack. I’m sure this is because they are running to or from work. I get the feeling the runners might be English, but that is about it. Otherwise no one in London is British, but from somewhere else in Europe or the world. And I never knew dual citizenship was a thing. But if you have a parent who was born in France, but you were born and raised in the US, you can get a French passport. And with a French passport you can work anywhere in The EU. I found that quite different.