Tour for Muggles and Dreamgirls

On July 25, my class went on a Harry Potter tour and went to the Savoy Theatre to watch the show Dreamgirls.

First we went on the tour, which was by far the best tour.  I was a little apprehensive at first because I am not a big Harry Potter fan, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The tour guide not only gave us Harry Potter history but also some history of London, Sherlock, and Skyfall as well.  The tour guide was amazing, and was very knowledgeable about the topic.  She was able to talk clearly and loudly over the wind, which was really bad that day.  All and all I was blown away by the tour.  I would recommend this to anyone traveling to London who has an interest in Harry Potter or just filming techniques in general.

That night we went to see Dreamgirls at the Savoy theatre.  I enjoyed the musical, but it was not the best I have seen.  Some aspects made me think I was watching some amateur theatre.  Throughout the performance it did get better.  My favorite characters would probably be Effie and Jimmy.  The woman who played Effie was exceptional, but I still love Jennifer Hudson’s performance from the movie.  The man that played Jimmy captured the character perfectly.  There were even moments when I though James Brown was actually on stage (Jimmy is based off of James Brown).  Personally all the actors were good but I didn’t care for the man that played Curtis.  To me his voice wasn’t that great, it was good don’t get me wrong but I felt like he was having to strain to reach some notes. I enjoyed it, but now that I have seen it once I don’t think I have a desire to go see it on stage again.

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The Tower of London and Jack the Ripper

On July 17, my class went to the Tower of London.  I have been twice before this trip, but I have to say the Tower is a place I don’t mind going back to because there is much to see.   First we went to the crown jewels which was cool, even though I had already seen them they are always so neat to see. This time I walked the entire distance of the wall, saw almost everything you could see, and I did a Yeoman Warder tour. This has been one of the best tours I have been on considering the size of the tour group. Even though the group was massive, the guide was great.  He spoke with a clear voice and he was able to be heard by almost everyone the group. The guide was also very funny and was very entertaining, he could find humor in most situations.  I really enjoyed the tour and my time at the tower, my favorite part probably being the cafe because the food never disappoints. They have awesome cake, end of story.

July 18, I went on a Jack the Ripper the walk.  It was interesting but I was a little let down.  I thought it would be a little more gruesome, but it was more like, “this is where the body was found and this was the time”.  I did like it, but it is was not what I expected. The guide was very nice, he was a very good storyteller, and gave neat facts.  He was very knowledgeable on the topic and he also took us around some cool spots around London.  He also showed us some awesome street art and cool places to grab a bite to eat. I enjoyed the tour, but it was not what I expected.

Science Museum & Victoria and Albert’s Museum

On July 10 my class went to the Science Museum and the V&A Museum.

The science museum was our first stop.  At first our professor spilt us into groups and gave us a topic that we needed to research.  My partner and I’s topic was broadcasting.  The broadcasting section was very interesting, and I learned things I never thought I would know like reasons why Brits went out and bought TVs.  The answer, they wanted to be able to watch the Queen’s coronation.  Overall I thought the Science Museum was neat, but the longer we stayed I grew a little bored. I only ventured to the second and first floors so maybe that is why I grew bored of it.  I was more focused on finding cold water because the museum was extremely hot. I would recommend it for others to check out because the museum did have a lot to offer but I just didn’t get a chance to see it all.

The next stop was Victoria and Albert’s museum, or the miscellaneous museum.  I love this museum, because there is so much to look at.  We had a tour through the Theatre and Performance section of the museum and it was a very interesting.  The person that led the tour was well versed on the topic, and gave very interesting facts.  He stumbled over his words a few times but his passion for the topic made up for it.  The overall experience I had was way better than anything at the National Gallery.  The staff was extremely nice and helpful and the tour guide was not a hot mess like the one from the National Gallery.  I am actually going back on Friday to see two of the exhibitions they have to offer and I am so excited.

Hampton Court, St. Paul’s, and the National Gallery

Last Sunday on July 2nd, I went to Hampton Court Palace.  I have previously been three years prior and only had an hour to rush through the palace.  This time I was able to take a more leisurely look at the palace.  I could take time to actually read the plaques.  This time around I decided to go without the audio guide.  I enjoyed walking the palace without the audio tour because it was much more relaxed, I wasn’t focused on going to the next station as fast as I could like the previous time.  My favorite part of the palace was the Palace Gardens, I wasn’t able to see them at my last visit because they were closed for some kind of event.  So it was nice that I was given the opportunity to see something at the palace that I hadn’t already seen.

On the following Monday we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I have been there once but there was a service going on so we were only allowed to walk around the front, but this time I was allowed to climb up to the dome.  The walk up was one of the most grueling things I have experienced so far in my life.  When you see the sign that says 553 (possibly wrong but its close) steps you think, “Hmm that doesn’t seem like too many,”. Then about half way up you are start to regret every life choice that led you to this moment in time.  But even though I panted like a dog the entire way up, I climbed all the way to the top and boy was it worth it.  The view was amazing and unlike the London Eye it gave you a different view of London which was cool.  The view by far was worth everything and my pictures turned out great. Descending the staircase was better than climbing up it I must say.  Only part I didn’t enjoy was the small narrow parts of the staircases, I hit my head at least twice and almost got stuck once which freaked me out a little.

After our lunch at the Sherlock Holmes pub (which I recommend) we went to the National Gallery where we encountered some unfriendly staff.  I know I am an American and most people believe we are slow and stupid but talk to me like I am an idiot and we will have an issue.  I mean this one man was just horrible, words can not truly describe him, but let me have a go.  He was an ignorant man, who had a giant and I mean huge Napoleon Complex going on, and thought because he had a badge with his name on it and green shirt he owned the damn gallery.  Now lets move on to the catastrophe that was the speaker for our tour that Mr. Napoleon said we weren’t allowed on, but we joined anyway.  First of all the guide seemed to been having a rough day, his suit was all wrinkled, his hair was an absolute mess, and he seemed quite nervous. For the title of lecturer, he was soft-spoken and talked to the painting instead of the people. He spent way to long talking about brush strokes, and honestly his voice was so dull that I was very close to falling asleep standing up.  Our group quickly separated and went off on our own, where I learned more from security guards than I did the actual guide.  I loved the gallery itself, the paintings were beautiful and I was surprised by a few that they had in their collection.  I would go back for the art (because it is so beautiful), but the way we were treated by the information desk staff makes me want to stay away.