London report - Day 6 - Day 11 (the conclusion!)
For the previous LJ entries on London, click here:
Day 6 (Wednesday):
There is hardly anything to report on this day, as we slept in till like 3pm (!). It was imperative to have one day of mid-trip rest and it probably was the only thing that kept up going till the end of the journey lol. Poor Jess kept calling my phone which was dead >_<. Eventually we rose from the dead and met Jess for dinner. It was nice to chillax for a couple of hours and just chat about how the Ball went. From what we heard, it was a successful event and most everyone was happy except maybe with the drink prices at the bar, which the Cosplay Ball had no control over. Apparently the night's favorite performance was our Disney group, yay!
After dinner Brian and I walked around Soho for a bit distracted on our way home by cool book stores. I seriously want to buy half the books in London. But they're so heavy that we allowed ourselves no purchases that night.
Day 7 (Thursday):
Seeing as how we got a break the day before, we tackled the monster that is Tower of London!
First we checked out the famed Tower Bridge, which many people mistake as the London Bridge (which in turn was sent over to the United States some time ago!).
It was very windy and drizzly so we didn't cross it all the way, but just seeing the architecture of this beautiful bridge was great. We grabbed a bite to eat and met Emily and Gary for Tower of London time.
It's been many years since I've been to this place and it seems so much bigger and grand this time. Maybe I just wasn't that interested in English history as a young teen back then? I definitely love re-visiting places as an adult now.
Before going into the massive compound, Emily showed us a trick you can play with the Sterling birds hanging around the food stands. They're so used to people that not only do they know to stick around for scrap pieces of fish and chips, they will fly up if you throw a piece into the air and pick it up with their beaks before it lands on the ground! After a while they would get impatient for that even and just come and grab food from your hands. Hilarious.
Here's a photo of Brian feeding a group of Sterlings.
The first thing we did after walking through the gates is taking a short tour with one of the Wardens (better known as Beefeaters). I didn't know they worked AND lived in the compound! As in, over 200 people (workers + family) live at the Tower of London!
Then we saw the crown jewels which were so full of bling that they looked fake lol. I snuck a phone picture of the Indian crown and got yelled at lol.
After that we were warmed up to see the big exhibit in the White Tower!
Henry VIII's armor collection!!! They filled up the top 3 - 4 floors with a very well done exhibit full of weapons, war and jousting armor suits and even armor suits for horses. It was really interesting to see Henry's weight gain through out the years just based on the armor suits they made for him.
Sadly no photography was allowed inside the exhibit and they were watching like hawks. It was breathtaking though.
We walked around from the top to the "basement" and where they built a Giftshop where the torture chamber was lol, and the other spots like the Bloody Tower and chapel where Anne Boleyn is buried.
Before we knew it, it was closing time (at like 5pm already) and since the day had been cold and drizzly, we went to a pub to warm up and eat. We finished the night off at the British Museum were we met Photographer Pat Lyttle and scouted locations for our photoshoot the next day and saw some of the exhibits.
Day 8 (Friday):
I got up early to get ready for the photoshoot. Pat and I are both fashion lovers and we talked about doing some glam and high fashion looks. I brought a carry-on suitcase full of clothes and he brought some shoes and vintage Victorian bodices (to be worn as jackets). Upon arriving at the British Museum, we realized that shooting today will be hard, due to the massive amount of tourists and visitors on site.
In an idea world, we would have shot outdoors as London as some gorgeous scenery, but it was way way too cold. On top of having to shoot around curious glances, the new security in London required us to check the suitcase at the Coat Check, so we couldn't even take it in and walk around with it. Not like any of this would deter us! In 4 hours we managed to shoot three looks, and that's with constant waiting for the background to clear of people and with security looking for us lol. Guess we looked too "professional" to be mere visitors, with Pat's camera and my outfits.
I loved the interior of the museum..
Here are some of the shots I got back from Pat. I am curious how he got my skin to glow like that XD.
I love the Victorian bodices sooo much. They're exquisitely made and to think of something close to 150 years old still being in such good shape AND fashionable is amazing.
After the shoot, we went to dinner at this tiny and yummy Italian restaurant within walking distance, and we realized that Forbidden Planet was just around the corner. Of course we had to go and Brian and I spent the next hour like kids in a candy store, looking at all the collectibles and art books and so much geekery. Downstairs in the book section we randomly saw who played Mr. Eko on "Lost" and was in the Bourne movies and G.I.Joe. He just walked in to shop lol. I got a picture with him.
Nothing else exciting happened that night except Pat telling us about a vintage fashion fair on Sunday!
Day 9 (Saturday):
Brian and I decided to go to the Movie Museum of London, but not before we had to fight our way through a huge crowd of environmental protesters gathered around the Parliament!
The Movium turned out to be way more awesome than we had expected! It was housed in this old government building across the bridge where Parliament stands and right by an Aquarium, a Haunted House and the London Eye.
They had a Dali sculpture exhibit by the river, which was a treat:
Anyway, the Movium! Because the building was so old and obviously used to be a government used building, many of the exhibits were in small dark wood rooms and hallways. They had an informative history on the UK movie industry and a crap ton of screen used props, costumes, armor, prosthetic, weapons and so so much more. It was sort of random what they had though, but many things I never thought I'd see in person, like the costumes from "Gladiator" and Jack Nicholson's Joker suit. Of course there was a whole room of James Bond props and it looked kind of like the piled up archive room in "Golden Eye" lol. They also had a Star Wars room where we saw BOTH the Boba Fett and Carbonite life-size statues I got in my house lol.
Check out some of the things we saw there:
The main exhibit was Harry Potter and it was really cool to see some of the props and costumes up close. Most impressive to me were the school books, bound and embossed with the proper titles. There were also more props and sets around that last giant room:
This is for you, Kelly lol ai_honey
Upon leaving the museum it was dark, and still beautiful
After finally leaving the Museum I wanted to go to Harrod's, the famous magical department store in London. We had just enough time for me to swoon over the gorgeous designer collections and pick out a new bra and garter belt set from Agent Provocateur, complete with thigh high stockings. I love it!
More London by night, and in the rain as per usual XD
We then raced to Tower Hill station to meet up with Emily and Gary for the Jack the Ripper tour.
Our journey was made more difficult by London Underground rush hour O_O
The Ripper Tour was really long and comprehensive and the tour guide was a good story teller. The weather played along well to the dark story by being all rainy. We walked around White Chapel where the murders happened and looked at print outs of newspaper articles, photos of the victims (eeek) and potential Jack The Ripper suspects. It was pretty awesome.
Following Mr. Tour guide man
Victim's home sites
After the tour everyone went back to the train station but we four somehow walked away the opposite direction and ended up alone in these tiny alleys trying to find Liverpool Station. I totally got the scare of my life as I lead the way (WHY?) down one of those alleys, literally too small to fit two people abreast, and a door opened suddenly with a head popping out. I was still reminiscing on the Jack the Ripper tour and just about screamed my head off! The guy just wanted a smoke, but geez.
Adventuring in White Chapel
Hunger made Emily and I turn into bunnies
We had dinner at a tiny Thai restaurant in another alley, which we were told is where they filmed some of the scenes of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies. Then we slowly made our way back home.
Day 10 (Sunday):
Today was the Vintage Fashion Fair! It took up two halls inside Hammersmith Town Hall and was magical and crammed FULL of racks upon racks of vintage clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry and more. The pieces ranged from the 1800's to 80's fashion as well as couture designer wear to unknown handmade items. I tried on Jon Galliano dresses, Jean Paul Goutier jackets, picked up vintage Chanel necklaces, and pranced around in Parisian bodices from the 1870's. it was amazing. All the vendors were super nice and helpful and you can haggle and chat with them about the history of the garments. I was also amazed that they'd allow you to go out the hall into the restrooms to try on clothes, since there was no room in the booths for dressing rooms. No one in the States would let you leave with their $400 designer dress, even for a second.
I must have walked around each booth and looked through each rack and table about 4 times that day, to the point where some vendors must have gotten annoyed with me lol. I wish I had had more foresight to take some shots of the fair but I totally was too busy having fun and shopping. Brian only got two photos of me, one with this old and gorgeous Naponeon hat (part of a full uniform and not for Sale on its own D:), and one with a super oversized silk flower which I now wish I had gotten. But it was close to $70 and I can make something like it!
What I did buy was a Victorian bodice from the 1850"s, with signature mutton sleeves. It is mauve patterned burnt out velvet and silk, and still has whale bone boning. I got it for a great deal because it needs some restoration. I'll definitely do a photoshoot with it once I fix it!
That night we had dinner at an Indian restaurant with Emily and El. it was nice to just chit-chat and hang out for a while. We definitely took it easy on this day.
Day 11 (Monday):
Last full day in London! Sadness. We decided to go to Camden which was the last big place we wanted to visit but hadn't gotten to yet. For those not familiar with Camden, it is a famous area for boutique and alternative fashion shopping. From lolita, punk, goth, fetish, t-shirts, artwork, novelties, jewelry to high fashion, rockabilly and cheap hong kong clothes... the Camden market literally has it all.
We walked around from noon to like 7pm and still didn't see all of it. I got lost inside the two story All Saints store and wanted to buy everything in sight. It was truly a good thing we came here last and our luggage was packed to the brim. I wasn't able to buy anything bulky or big, only a few small pieces.
There was this section of the Market called the Stables lined with horse statues, kinda cool and kinda unnerving. Can you imagine being there at night with all the lights off? XD
The best store we went into was Cyberdog without a doubt. Brian and I loved that place, with it's unique glow in the dark futura punk fashion, gadgets, t-shirts, cyber wear, gears, even an adult section in the third bottom story of the store! We weren't allowed to take photos inside, but Brian grabbed a couple of the store front. Just imagine this theme, but through out the entire store, and everything's lit up under Blacklight lol.
The day ended with us packing for like two solid hours, trying to get the maximum weight allowance in on each piece of luggage. In fact we BOUGHT ANOTHER SUITCASE in London just to fit everything we did buy lol.
Tuesday was an early run to the airport, where everything did pass the weight limit ok and we got Business Elite class again for the plane trip back. Yay. I watched "Transformers 2" and am sorry to report that I could barely get through it O_O. I really liked the first movie - what did they DOOO???? I know too many people in my FL who liked this one, so I will refrain from uttering any more of my opinion. Thankfully I followed that up with "Inglorious Bastards" which we missed in the Theaters and was very very happy with this film. It helped that I understand German, which dominated at least half of the dialogue. Yay Tarantino-style action, gore, dialogue and intensity <3.
This concludes my long ass London report. Thanks for reading, those who are still here lol.