Champagne, Hot Dogs, & Harry Potter: England

London has been on my list of must-visit places for nearly as long as I can remember. Now that one of my dear friends is kicking ass as a Producer for BBC World Service, I have all the excuses to visit the UK. I had a blast visiting Haley and checking off all the tourist sites in the city.

Where are we?

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Just a quick two hour flight from Vienna, Austria

Of course it basically rained the entire long weekend I was there, which made walking around definitely an adventure. We took a trip to Windsor Castle that I’ll publish next week; there was so much to see (not to mention my first ever Pims) that it definitely needs its own post.


The largest and capital city of both England and the United Kingdom, London sits on the Thames and is known for a million things, but most importantly Monty Python and Harry Potter. With history extending as far back as the Bronze Age–recently archeologists found the remains of a bridge crossing the Thames–London is officially recognized as a settlement in 43 AD during the invasion of the Romans.

My first stop was visiting BBC; now I can say I’ve been to the headquarters of my two favorite broadcasting companies (I toured NPR in 2011). Also, I’m a nerd.

View of BBC Headquarters. Haley gave me an amazing tour of the building!


View from the top
Ever wonder how BBC World Service is made?
Buckingham Palace gate
Buckingham Palace (Originally built as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703)
The palace became the official residence for the monarchy in 1837


Westminster Abbey was founded in 960, 1057 years ago!
In 1950 the church became known as “a Church of England ‘Royal Peculiar'” meaning that it’s directly responsible to the sovereign
All British and English coronations have been held here since 1066 (William the Conqueror) along with 16 royal weddings starting in 1100
Westminster Abbey is also a memorial; over a thousand people are buried here
Big Ben, the Great Bell of the Clock located at the northern side of the Palace of Westminster. The clock was completed in 1858 and was named Elizabeth Tower in 2012 after the Queen
Westminster Palace (also known as the Houses of Parliament) is the central meeting place for the House of Commons and House of Lords. Originally built in 1016, the palace was destroyed by fire in 1834 and rebuilt.
My interpretation of the “London Tourist Sites Postcard”
The Palace of Westminster was the first official place of residence for the royals until 1512.


Let’s be real, my biggest reason for visiting was to reenact the “Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” scene from European Vacation when Clark is stuck in the roundabout:

I really wanted a picture of the police in their uniforms due to our obsession with the movie Hot Fuzz. Trying to be sneaky with my camera didn’t work (of course as I’m the most obvious person in the world) and the officers posed for a picture for me:


If you haven’t seen this movie, please do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP
The London Eye was completed in 2000 and stands at 443 feet tall. Also, a big hell no to ever riding one of the world’s tallest ferris wheels.
The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian walking bridge that was completed in 2000.

For Harry Potter reasons (and also fear of bridges reasons) I did not walk the Millennium Bridge.

Who knows what He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is up to these days?
Tower Bridge
It was awesome to visit the Tower Bridge after seeing it as one of the iconic sites during the 2012 London Olympics. The Bridge held both the Olympic rings and Paralympic emblem
Tower Bridge (built between 1886-1894) and the Tower of London (founded in 1066!)

The Tower of London was one of the few sites I actually paid to tour. The fortress is pretty big and well worth the cost; Used as a prison, menagerie, and a palace, the Tower of London has been a prominent part of British history. Unfortunately it was pouring while I was walking the (largely outdoor) grounds so I wasn’t able to take many pictures.



The Tower also houses the Crown Jewels, but they were hardly guarded at all…
South face of the Waterloo Block
The moat was an important part of the fortress’s defenses
90% of my snaps that day
In line to see the platform!
Hufflepuff v. Slytherin

Food & Beer

Haley’s House:

Known for her egg-making expertise, of course we had to have eggs and toast my first morning in London:


After a rather long (and dance party filled) night she was nice enough to make homemade pizza for dinner the following day.

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The Hop Locker:

Located under the Hungerford Bridge, the Hop Locker was an awesome and surprising find after I crossing the park behind the Eye.


The beer-truck had a couple of really great options. I tried Verdant Brewing‘s Roy, I want a Hilux, an American Pale Ale brewed in Falmouth, England.

So happy for a beer and a spot out of the rain

Gourmet Burger Kitchen:

I stopped in Gourmet Burger Kitchen to get out of the rain and charge my phone (and let’s be honest, truffle cheese fries). I ordered the Californian because I was craving avocado. Pretty good burger, great fries, and a ton of options for the pickiest of eaters.



After a long news day for Haley and my miles in the rain around London, Bubbledogs was the absolute perfect stop for dinner.

Yea, thats a macaroni and cheese dog

Bubbledogs is founded on a simple ideology: gourmet hot dogs and champagne. They have meat and veggie dogs available with a ton of options for toppings (I of course chose macaroni and cheese). Also–TOTS.

Me being a creep and snapping a picture of the orders arriving to the table next to us

Bad Bean Coffee: 


My last brunch in London! We originally wanted to go to another spot for breakfast but the line was ridiculously long and being the impatient, hangry people we are, Haley and I walked across the street to Bad Bean. I’m so glad we did!

Matching cappuccinos

Known for their coffee, Bad Bean also specializes in breakfast sandwiches, sides, and a variety of amazing looking treats. We ordered eggs+toast and both were ahhhmazing.



In the famous words of Haley Elaine: “Part of growing up is falling apart.”

Ashlyn (2)

Reading: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Listening: Ash & Ice by The Kills

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