Wandering around London in 72 hours (part III)
Are you a Harry Potter fan? I am! I love the HP books and I love the HP movies so when I read on a blog about 9 ¾ platform on King’s Cross railway station I knew I just had to visit it on my next trip to London. I’d have gladly visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour too but since it’s not exactly in London and since the entrance is a bit pricey I chose to leave that for some other trip to London. So, the first thing I did on my third day in London was to go to the King’s Cross station. I looked at the notice board announcing the train departures and for a minute I toyed with the idea of jumping on the next train to the countryside. However, I quickly relinquished that idea because I was going to Hampstead today!
I walked across the station and looked for a sign for the ninth platform when I suddenly saw a group of people ahead standing in a queue. So that must be it! I joined the queue and waited to have my picture taken with the 9 ¾ platform from the Harry Potter world. There were only adults in the queue apart from a family with a baby. When it’s your turn you can take the picture of the supposed platform from the movie and if you’re with somebody they can take your picture. But there’s also an official photographer who takes everyone’s photo and if you want you can buy that photo in the shop through which you have to pass.
I was on my own so I asked a girl in the line behind me to take my picture. There’s a guy who gives you the scarf when it’s your turn to stand in front of the trolley and to pretend like you’re going to walk through the wall and board the train to Hogwarts. His job is also to hold your scarf and release it at the exact moment when the photographer takes your picture so that the scarf stays up in the air. You can get two pictures taken: one when you just stand and another one when you jump.
The Harry Potter shop looks like a scene from the movie. It’s got every imaginable Harry Potter merchandise but it’s expensive. I looked at my photos when I entered the shop and for some reason the second photo of me trying to jump didn’t come through so the shop assistant told me to have my photo retaken. I didn’t have to wait in the line I just waited for a bit at the shop’s entrance and then did another jump. This time with the Gryffindor scarf (my first photo was with Ravenclaw scarf, don’t ask me why, I got confused when it was my turn and forgot to ask for the right scarf so I ended up with the one the guy put on me).
Now, both photos were fine and even though I really liked just the first and had planned to buy only one I felt bad for them taking my photo twice so I ended up buying two photos. You get the digital copy of the photos too so you can upload them as your new profile photo on Facebook for example 🙂 You get the photos in a plastic frame and even though they look great paying almost 16£ for two photos left a bitter taste in my mouth at the time. But I’m glad I got them now! p.s. there’s another entrance to the Harry Potter shop so if you don’t want to take your photo in front of a wall you can just go to the shop on the left
It was time to hop on the underground to Hampstead station and to spend most of the day wandering around the green and affluent village of Hampstead. More about my walk around Hampstead in the next post.
What was next on my agenda after Hampstead? Chocolate shop! None other than the unpronounceable Choccywoccydoodah which seemed to be popular among the bloggers. I just had to see it for myself. It was Saturday and the shop is in Fouberts Place just off Carnaby street which meant going through the crowds on Oxford street to get to the shop. I should have done the chocolate shop when I was already shopping in Oxford street the day before but I totally forgot about it. I pushed through the crowds, passed the Liberty department store and entered equally crowded Carnaby street.
Then I quickly found Choccywoccydoodah shop. Upon entering I was offered a chocolate to taste which I didn’t like much. I browsed around the shop which was decorated in Alice in the Wonderland style. Sadly, everything seemed to be on the expensive side. The idea was to go the upstairs cafe and have some cake. There was a hostess at the staircase and she told me that they didn’t have an empty table at the moment but that she could write my name down and I could come back in 20 minutes. I decided to take her up on the offer and to come back to the shop later. When I returned I promptly got my table but they put another lady at my table too because she was also on her own. The cafe space upstairs isn’t big but the prices are reasonable. I perused the menu and opted for a Double Chocolate Tiffin because I have never had something like that. It was a horrible decision!
I could have enjoyed an enormous piece of cake or an ice-cream or a shake but no, I had to order tiffin. It looked awesome when I got it but I couldn’t slice it. The knife just couldn’t go through, it was like trying to chop a wood with tweezers. I was confused and embarrassed and told the waiter that the cake was too hard. He tried cutting it too and had a lot of difficulty. The lady sitting at my table looked baffled at my cake while she just sipped her tea (how could someone just have tea in a cake shop?!). The waiter brought me another piece of tiffin. It was slightly better but I still had a lot of difficulty in cutting it so I decided to give up on the whole thing and have the cake boxed up so I could eat it somehow in my hotel room.
The sad part was that despite the cake being really delicious (but also quite fulfilling) I just got too annoyed with it and in the end I didn’t finish it in the hotel. This has never ever happened to me. I always finish my cake! I guess if I didn’t read about the shop I wouldn’t have had such high expectations of it and probably wouldn’t get as disappointed as I was in the end. Or maybe if I had ordered something else I would have felt better about the whole experience.
It was my last night in London so after resting for a bit at the hotel I walked around Paddington. It’s a good neighbourhood for visitors because the main street (Praed street) has a lot of restaurants, shops, small markets, pubs and more. There are two underground stations and a railway station (Paddington) too. There’s also St Mary’s hospital and on my arrival to London I walked passed the Lindo Wing on my way to the hotel. Didn’t Duchess Kate give birth there to prince George? I also discovered Paddington basin and the new modern buildings around it. Did you know that you can walk by the canal all the way from Paddington to Camden? Furthermore, the Paddington basin is just a section of the long Grand Union Canal.
Then I walked again towards Bayswater but this time I went through Kensington gardens park. No trip to London could be complete without seeing some squirrels in a park :). It was already close to 9 pm but there were still a lot of people in the park. I left the park at Queensway street and wandered around Bayswater again before I returned to my hotel in Paddington.
5 days in London (from Wednesday evening to Sunday morning in May) but actually I had just 3 full days to wander around the best city in the world. Just 72 hours. I had great weather and as always London managed to surprise me with new things. But I also loved seeing my favourites. It wasn’t my first visit and it sure wasn’t my last trip to London. I bid you farewell London. Until next time. Until my 12th visit to London. 🙂
p.s. the post about Hampsted is coming soon!