16 June 2016

Blogger City Swap: London

Let’s face it, train travel is bloody expensive!  It’s a constant drain on me and I travel quite a bit. However, I never really think about travelling by coach, so when megabus reached out to see if I wanted to take part in a blogger city swap, I thought it might be time to put them to the test.

I was paired with Hayley of Strangeness & Charm to do a London - Birmingham swap.  I happen to already know Hayley through our mutual friend Amy of Cocktails in Teacups, and we had already met a couple of times.  In fact all three of us are going to Walt Disney World in October!

I was first to host so I put my brain in gear.  Trying to work out what I could show Hayley in London that she might never have seen before.
We met up near an iconic London location, Tower Bridge, and had a quick wander around the area, including the famous Borough Market.  This food market is known for its fresh ingredients and pop-up restaurants that deliver flavours from all around the world.
Left: Knockturn Alley.  Right:  Diagon Alley
I know Hayley is a big Harry Potter fan so I decided to do a bit of searching for something Harry Potter related in London.  Of course there’s the Studio Tour nearby, but it's expensive and has to be booked far in advance.  A bit of googling brought my attention to Muggle Tours, a two and a half hour walking tour that takes you to some of the filming locations for the Harry Potter films, and some of the areas of London that served as inspiration for both the books and films.

Our tour guide was the very enthusiastic Stef Black.  She was really friendly, animated and really knew her stuff - basically the perfect tour guide!  I challenge anyone to try and outdo her on Harry Potter knowledge!  As I work for Bloomsbury (the publisher of Harry Potter) I did find her knowledge of members of staff here (people I work with no less!) pretty spot on!  My favourite places on the tour were the real life inspirations for Knockturn Alley and Diagon Alley, both of which are beautifully unique streets in the city.
After this we stumbled across the British Heart Foundations pop-up shop, curated by Victoria of In the Frow.  It’s always heart-warming to see other bloggers doing so well, and this was a fantastic opportunity for an amazing cause.  The shop looked beautiful, definitely different from your average charity shop, and she had chosen some gorgeous clothing.  I managed to resist but Hayley picked up a few pieces.
To end the day we decided to get a taste of the West End, and headed to Covent Garden to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I go to the theatre a fair bit so here’s a tip: don’t be afraid of restricted viewing seats!  I got both our tickets for less than £50 and even through we were up at the back, we had pretty descent seats, there were only a few times we struggled to see the action.

The musical was fun and light hearted, and we both treated our sweet-tooths while we watched this performance, it totally reminded me of my youth.  Give me a Wonka bar!

Check back next week to find out what Hayley had in store for me in Birmingham!  Thank you again to megabus for making this possible.  What is your favourite thing to do with friends in London?
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