Warner Bros. Studio Tour “The Making of Harry Potter”

The most important thing you need to know about the Harry Potter  Studio Tour (technically called “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London“) is that, as their home page says in print that really should be bigger,

“Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets are not sold at the Studio Tour.”

You cannot show up and expect to buy a ticket on site.

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Period Clothing at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

When my husband suggested we go across the street to the V&A after we left the Natural History Museum in London, I honesty hesitated, wondering whether it’s a good idea to take the kids to a museum about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Yes. That is correct. I really thought the Victoria and Albert Museum is ABOUT Victoria and Albert, and thought it would be better to go to the Science Museum instead.

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Sightseeing in London? Use public transportation

If you’re visiting London on a budget, skip the expensive hop-on hop-off tours and just buy yourself a London Travelcard which you can use not only on the Underground but also on the famous London double-decker buses, and you can see quite a bit of the city that way, especially if you manage to get seats right in front on the upper level.

London seems to have two options to buy tickets for public transportation – Oyster Cards and Travelcards, and the very well-designed London Transport site has a very handy page explaining the differences between the Oyster cards and the Travelcard.

London Tube map

Since the fee to buy an Oyster card is £3.00, we thought getting Travelcards on the couple of days we were sightseeing would a better option for the four of us, since we’d have to pay £12.00 just for the cards.

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Tips on Visiting the Windsor Castle: Make sure the State Rooms are open!

If you are staying in London and want to visit the Windsor Castle,  word of advice – make sure the state apartments are open on the day you’re visiting!

When we went there in January 2013, the state apartments were closed and even though it was still thrilling to walk around the place built by William the Conqueror, and where Henry VIII and Queen Victoria lived, the only “indoor” place open to the visitors was Queen Mary’s Doll House, Royal China exhibit, and a photo exhibit, The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch.

Not that the Doll House was not worth looking at. It was pretty spectacular. And we were able to do the Precincts Tour – tour the grounds with a guide who was very knowledgeable about the history of the Castle, and was very patient with our questions, but I really wish we saw the inside as well. Maybe next time…..

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Where to stay in London? Try the “Embankment House”

If you are traveling with a family, instead of looking for a hotel, I would suggest renting an apartment (or a flat, as the Brits call it) through Flipkey or Homeaway. We did just that when we went to London for a week in January 2013 – we rented the “Embankment House,” a two-bedroom apartment on Homeaway.

The apartment is in a townhouse located steps from:

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Natural History Museum in London

A day at the Natural History Museum in London means exploring some of the most highly-regarded exhibits on earth’s history in the world. The Natural History Museum is housed in a stunning building in South Kensington in Central London. The main exhibits of the museum are FREE for all ages, while special tickets may be purchased for certain visiting exhibitions.

The museum’s collection is enormous – over 70 million objects and specimens are included. The most popular exhibits in the museum include dinosaur fossils, animal specimens, and geologic exhibits.

The central hall of the museum is not only an example of gorgeous architecture, but it houses the most famous exhibit in the museum, a replica of a Diplodocus skeleton.

Other dinosaurs from T-rexes to triceratops can be seen in the museum as embedded fossils, skeletal displays, and carefully-crafted lifelike models complete with skin. You can see exhibits exploring the evolution of dinosaurs and other creatures or learn about (and see models) of dinosaur eggs and hatchlings.

Stegosaurus, 1/12 life size
Stegosaurus, 1/12 life size

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because the world is too interesting to stay home