London has been a stop on my journeys a lot. I can’t avoid mentioning how many cool things you can discover there. Things that most of the tourists aren’t actually aware of. Especially by using some fancy and expensive guidebooks or, even worse, packaged trips. Being indoors of Buckingham Palace was never my ambition. I’d rather jump in some huge bookstore. Or in some unknown place that is not completely overcrowded with tourists. I can absolutely relate to Claude Monet who despised tourists while being one. These people are nuts.
So here’s my pocket travel guide or things that geeks and nerds might find mind-blowing. Nothing much, just some hints I’ve discovered by myself. Because trust me, whenever I am in this city, it is completely different. I had believed that after this trip I would have most of my “To-Visit” list checked. Well, I’ve found even more fun stuff to discover!
Platform 9 ¾
This one’s cheesy, I know. I’ve been a Potterhead my whole life but my trips have never got me there. Took a few pictures of this damn trolley but wasn’t exactly eager to wait in this huge queue to get a picture of me. Well, not a fan of these anyway. It seemed fun though. You get a wand and a house scarf of your choice. Not sure if you have to pay 10 pounds for your own pictures but it sounds quite ridiculous to me.
I was actually more interested in the Potter shop there. It was everything and nothing I’ve expected. There were damn owl cages stuck to the ceiling and people saying “There’s a ghost in that section” whenever some things fell or something. I felt magical there. But the shop itself is magically overpriced. I need to buy my scarf eventually but maybe not there since it is over 30 pounds. At least books are quite all right.
Anyway, it’s a necessary stop for Potterheads and, to be honest, it is amazing even if you’re not exactly a fan of the series.
Details: it’s not on the actual platform which is kind of sad but luckily there’s no need to enter to the platforms which you know… costs money. If you’d like to run between 9th and 10th platform be my guest but muggles will get you down soon enough.
House of Minalima
Getting not so far from Pottermania, this one is so damn cool. I wouldn’t have found it without my Londoner friend and I’m so glad. It’s a house made by Potterheads for Potterheads. Every floor is themed to a different piece of Wizarding World. For example Luna and Juggler, the Horcruxes, Newt and his magical creatures… A shop takes the ground floor, but everything else is amazing. The house has a chimney with the letters falling out of it, a lot of film props and a nice small corridor with Wanted wizard posters. Not necessarily a very fancy place but definitely a pearl in this huge city. This is something that may be easily overlooked if you don’t have a clue about it.
I find nothing fancy in there but anyone enjoying any kind of Asian culture would get a nice vibe. You can buy all kinds of stuff from Japan or Korea. I assume anyone visiting London knows about that place already so it’s just a mention.
221B Baker Street and Sherlock Museum
I am still unable to accept how many great things London has because of… Scots. Arthur Conan Doyle was one of them and here I am discovering his greatest fictional character’s quarters in the centre of London. I felt a little off being there and I wanted to shout that Sherlock was never really here, but it seemed plenty of people got that weird belief he was an actual person. Well, Sherlock fame may be a little low at the moment but it is not making him less popular.
The museum itself is lovely, though. It has small rooms with a lot of Victorian-era items which are real and were actually used back then. And the rooms are incredibly detailed. Obviously, everything is based on the books themselves. So there’s that skull, Victoria bust, make-up set and everything else Sherlock used. You can find a lot of resemblances between these and the series with Benedict Cumberbatch. I was always amazed at how detailed the series is and how they tried to create Sherlock to be true to his Victorian self. The film with Robert Downey Jr is fun but it does not have these similarities. It’s not, you know, very British, to be fair.
Then there’re also a bunch of wax figures that show the famous characters themselves and a few people from the most popular cases. Obviously, Moriarty is there, too. What I enjoyed was also plenty of things connected to the cases as well. A painting of hounds might be my favourite but there’re a few more I’ll let you discover on your own.
Details: 15 pounds entrance; You need to buy a ticket in the store next to the 221B door; Baker Street
It was not what I’ve expected. Well, I might have hoped for something more but apparently, the exhibitions are changing quite often. So for me, it was rather a James Bond museum than a Film one.
It was incredible nonetheless. There are actual cars used in the films and a lot of props I couldn’t believe were reachable. I was happy to see an ID for Ben Whishaw’s Q, but it’s me. I guess a lot of men (generalizing here) would be happy to see the actual Aston Martin. I’m a complete ignorant of the cars subject but I know my man was in some kind of heaven. And not only Bond’s cars are there. A lot of villain’s models are there as well. Do not ask me which. Car ignorant. But good looking ones.
Furthermore, there were a lot of other vehicles including boats and planes from the Bond films, too. Apart from these, if you’re not interested – tuxes. Not necessarily ones with bullet holes or something but the sharp and handsome ones.
Details: 15 pounds (concession 9.50 for students); Covent Garden
Being in the Bond subject there’s MI6 building I find cool to see. You know, the one from the films. It’s literally a Secret Intelligence Service building. And it’s actually easily reachable while strolling next to the Thames. Just hope for a nice weather.
There’re plenty of other secret agencies buildings throughout London if you’re only eager to search for those so good luck there. Maybe they’ll appreciate your secret skills after such search, eh?
This is my go-to place whenever I’m in London. Usually, I visit it a couple of times not to miss any deliveries. This is literally my heaven. You get two floors of geek stuff. The ground floor is full of figurines of all kinds and other collectables. Oh, and there’s a huge glassed exhibition with the most beautiful figures (and most pricey). So just dive in the world with all kinds of stuff your heart might desire.
The basement is more of a brain desire. It’s full of comics and books and everything paper. You can find a cute bargain only by making research in their older comics or find a book you’ve been looking for. Personally, I still love their special stuff such as Fight Club comic with Chuck Palahniuk’s autograph. Pricey, but damn, worth it. There’s really small count of times I leave Forbidden Planet empty-handed.
Details: Covent Garden
You can find everything on Oxford Street. And the Disney store is the one you really want to enter. Even just for a quick look, it’s worth checking out. There’s even that damn carriage from Cinderella. Whatever is your favourite childhood (or not) cartoon – you’ll find something for yourself. Moana and her kind of stuff as well as old-school Mickey dressing Queen’s Guard fancy suit. And obviously, everything that Disney has rights to, which includes Marvel merchandise. Who knows, maybe it’ll include all Fox-related stuff as well?
Anyway, it’s a fun shop to enter. If you’re in need of a Funko related to Disney then it has quite normal prices. And there’s some stuff only available in their stores so it’s worth checking just to be sure.
Details: Oxford Street
Recently HMV got worse than ever with their prices but old love forgives a lot. I’ve been checking out this store since my very first London trip and it has changed greatly with time, especially since there’s not many HMVs left now. But if you’re in need of some culture related item it’s worth checking out, especially since it’s right in front of Disney Store.
What’s in there? Everything and nothing, actually. They used to have only music and films, but right now there’re also shirts, Funko Pops and other geek gizmos, plenty of books and comics and so on. So basically if your needs aren’t covered anywhere else, it’s worth checking. Sometimes they have some bargains you could enjoy.
Details: Oxford Street
It’s a new one. I mean, I’ve just seen it this year. But damn, it’s almost like a small Legoland. There’s everything Lego, you can check out the bigger sets come to life on the VR and see quite a lot of cool constructions. These include Millenium Falcon, Hulkbuster, Shakespeare, Telephone Booth (1:1 size) and so on. Of course, you can build something yourself… If you’re cool with sharing with kids. And if you find a place to yourself.
But if you need a rest and level up your sugar there’s also M&Ms store right next to it, so feel free to wonder there as well.
Details: Leicester Square
Everyone loves four storey bookstore! If not then you might be on a way to start. It has tons of books, comics, stationery, art albums and tons of other stuff that may just get you curious. On the top floor, there is a cute little cafe and some adorable stuff. So just don’t lose too much money there.
Camden Town + Mega City Comics
This one I haven’t visited for a while now. But I’ll hold a special place for this part of London. This store was the one I spent my last money on my very first ever comic book. That’s a kind of things you don’t forget. It was the very first sheet of Avengers vs X-men and I recommend this story from the bottom of my heart. And the place as well.
Camden Town is actually something else. It’s a place where all the possible “weirdos” get together. There’re a lot of shops for every possible subculture and it’s so damn incredible. You can find there very dark and gothic houses, a lot of punks with their mohawk being almost as long as their arms and so on. I loved it there. Everyone’s so friendly, most of them are fine with taking pictures with you. So go ahead and take a look around. Oh, and don’t forget that a lot of booths wants you to make some deals with some trading. Not my thing, actually, but just to be aware.
Is that it?
No, not really. While researching the subjects I’ve noticed plenty of other fun museums or places I’d like to visit. I’ve been hearing that WB Harry Potter tour is worth its high price so next time I might just check it out. And well, nothing stays the same, so hopefully, I’ll make a new post on the subject after my next visit!
PS. Also, this post was getting so long I decided to leave a few things for the next round. Cheers!