How to Save on London Museum Visits

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Although visiting London can leave quite the dent in the bank account, one of the major perks about this incredible city is the plethora of free museums! The city clearly places value on the arts, which as a performing arts major, I greatly appreciate (I wish we had more access to free museums in the States, but oh well I’ll just have to keep dreaming.) I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite spots to visit whilst in the city to get exposed to the diverse range of galleries and exhibits London has to offer without adding an extra cost to your visit! I’ve divided them up by location in the city to hopefully make travel plans a bit easier, so here they are….

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1. The National Gallery

Located in Trafalgar Square, is a must see for anyone visiting London. It offers an array of paintings from as early as the thirteenth century! It is here that you’ll find the famous Arnolfini Portrait (gracing the pages of many history textbooks) as well as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The free admission makes it a staple for both art enthusiasts as well as anyone looking to gain some insight into the classical works of Western Europe, or even a peaceful afternoon stroll away from the hustle and bustle of city life. During my time in London, I found myself wandering in here to gain some culture, and view a portion of the museum that I may have overlooked during previous visits. I even stumbled across the Joseph Wright painting “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” which served as inspiration for the Shelagh Stephenson play of a similar title! The museum is open daily from 10am-6pm with extended hours on Friday till 9pm.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines)


2. The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is just around the corner from its relative, and just like the name implies, houses the  portraits of several important and famous people throughout history. This museum displays the collection of Tudor portraits, as well as paintings of the current Royal Family. If time isn’t a luxury on your visit, this is a perfect museum to pop into because it doesn’t take long to see the free exhibits! The museum is open to the public from 10am-6pm which is plenty of time to make it through the entire building.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines)


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3. Somerset House Exhibits

Somerset House offers a lovely area to simply grab a cup of coffee or tea at one of it’s cafes, and in addition to the permanent galleries that cost money for admission, often houses rotating free exhibitions. On my past visit to London, they had a fabulous photography display examining waste around the world. Currently on display for free admission are the AOI Illustration Awards Exhibition located in the Terrace Rooms until November 1st and the Marc Quinn Sculptures gracing the Fountain Court.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines) Temple (Served by the Circle and District Line) or Covent Garden (Served by the Piccadilly Line)


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4. The Hunterian Museum

This gem is hidden in a quaint square surrounding Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. It took me until my second visit to London to make it over here, and I’m so glad that I did because it contains so much interesting information about the development and advancement of modern day surgery as well as anatomy displays from the collection of John Hunter. I would highly recommend this museum if you are fascinated by science, or are considering entering the medical field. The exhibit is located inside the the Royal College of Surgeons (When you see the sign in the photograph above, you’ll know you are in the right place), just check in at the reception desk and they will give you a visitor’s pass to access the museum.

Tube Stop: Holborn (Served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines)


5. The British Museum

The British Museum is probably most known for being the home to the Rosetta Stone, however, this museum not only offers incredible statues and artifacts from all over the world, the building architecture is breathtaking. Make sure to look up at the beautiful glass ceiling which allows natural light to beam through (and for instagrammers to get a perfect photo.) The museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm with extended hours on Friday till 8:30pm.

Tube Stop: Holborn (Served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines)


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6. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is home to a collection of many exhibits ranging from natural geological formations to prehistoric specimens. Sure, it may be similar to other Natural History museums out there, but the architecture alone makes this museum a must see. Plus, it is just a short walk from the V&A making it convenient to visit two very different museums in one day! The museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm and if you stay late enough, you might just see the exhibit come to life….

Tube Stop: South Kensington (Served by the Piccadilly and Circle and District Lines)


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7. Victoria and Albert Museum

Traveling in a group? The V&A is one of the best museums to visit in London because it’s both free and offers a variety of exhibits to satisfy everyone’s interests. Unique to the V&A from the other museums mentioned, it contains an extensive fashion collection ranging from the 18th century to contemporary designs. The museum also has a lovely courtyard perfect for a visit on a sunny afternoon. The gift shop at the Victoria and Albert museum is one of my absolute favorites, so for those of you in the market for a souvenir or postcard to send to a loved one back home, I would take a stroll through here upon your visit! The V&A is open to the public daily from 10am-5:45pm, and on the last Friday of every month, the museum opens it’s doors for special late night events lasting till 10pm. While studying abroad, I attended a late night fashion event (read about it here) with a group of friends and we all had a lot of fun getting to participate in the festivities and explore the museum exhibits.

Tube Stop: South Kensington (Served by the Piccadilly Line)


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8. Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is a fabulous museum to visit for the modern art fanatic, or even to get a gorgeous view of Central London overlooking the Thames. With rotating exhibits, the Tate Modern keeps each visit fresh, and the interactive art center makes it fun for all ages! Here you’ll find the works of Picasso and Jackson Pollock along with several other contemporary works using different design mediums. Grab a cup of tea or coffee from the cafe and relax out on the balcony to get some prime photographs of the city, or settle down on a computer to create a modern work of your own and walk away from your trip as a modern artist! If modern art isn’t your thing, the free admission and proximity to both the Globe and the National Theatre along the South Bank make this museum a perfect place to pop into during your stay. The museum is open to the public Sunday through Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday through Saturday from 10am-10pm.

Tube Stop: Southwark (Served by the Jubilee Line) Blackfriars (Served by the District and Circle Lines) or if you fancy a nice walk along South Bank take the tube to London Bridge (Served by the Jubilee and Northern Lines), pass through the market, and follow the Thames to the Gallery.

Well there are my top museum recommendations for visiting London! While there are so many amazing museums to see in this city, I hope that this helps narrow down and provide some suggestions for places to see during your travels. If you have any questions or travel recommendations, let me know in the comments! Keep an eye out for future posts about my advice and experiences studying abroad.

Until next time,New blog signature 2

London Calling?

MadCambridgeHere is a photo from my weekend trip to Cambridge with my Mom last Spring.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’ve been a terrible blogger as of late. I suppose life and the busy nature of University got the best of me and suddenly this blog took a place on the back burner. But enough of the excuses, let’s get to the point of this little post….Over the past few weeks I’ve been counting down the days till I would get to reconnect with my friends across the pond and now that spring break has arrived, I’m excited to let y’all know that I will be traveling back to London! I can’t wait to catch up with everyone that I got to know during this last year and I’m anxious to gain some great stories to bring back from my travels, hopefully I’ll have some entertaining ones! Looking forward to sharing this adventure with anyone who needs a break or possibly an excuse to procrastinate and have a little read of what I get up to whilst away….

Until next time,

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Seaside Holiday

Brighton HeaderHere is a photograph of the pavilion on this gorgeous sunny day!

Let’s back track a little bit (or maybe A LOT) . . .  When my Mum came to visit me during Spring time in London, we decided to take a little weekend trip to Brighton to explore the coastal city and catch some rays along the beach. It was a quick and relatively inexpensive train ride from the centre of London and since the city is so walkable, finding our hotel was pretty straight forward. Luckily I had my mother with me who has a much better sense of direction, which if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that wasn’t a trait that was passed on to me haha. From our experience, the people in Brighton were very friendly and some even struck up a random conversation with us as we were walking to our hotel. The beach is really lovely on a sunny afternoon; however, if you are used to the sandy beaches of California, you may be surprised to find that the beach is more pebbly than anything. Being a Pacific Northwest girl this didn’t bother me at all because we’re pretty used to the rocky shoreline. After settling into our hotel, we took a stroll down the street lined with cute cafes and shops towards the Brighton pier which had the classic 1800’s seaside style. There were lots of people and luckily, the weather held up so we could enjoy a nice evening walk. I loved how vibrant the beach life was with tourists looking at the different seaside attractions, people on holiday basking in the sun, and street performers entertaining a crowd.  Continue reading

5 Things to Do in Camden

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So you’ve found yourself in Camden eh? Now what…Well, I’m no Camden town connoisseur, but I do have a few recommedations for visiting this famous area in London. Camden is a quirky mix of public art on buildings, aromas of vendor food filling the streets and of course the locks. For all of you Seattlites reading this blog, it reminded me of Fremont, especially during the flea market on the weekends. Sure there are plenty of different markets you can frequent whist in the U.K. but a visit to London just wouldn’t be complete without seeing what all the fuss over Camden is about. It’s an easy ride on the tube or bus and you can honestly spend all day wandering around deciding what to eat and looking at the antique shops. Tube Stop: Camden Town on the Northern Line (TFL journey planner)

1. I think my number one piece of advice, at least the one I find important, is to visit on a sunny day if you can. It doesn’t get much better than getting to see the locks on a lovely afternoon. Of course if it’s the middle of autumn, the weather may be a bit fickle and in this case you can always seek warmth inside the covered part of the market, but make the most of the sunshine and take the tube or bus over to Camden!IMG_1573

2. Skip a formal meal in the city and grab lunch at the market! This is a great place to indulge in some good inexpensive food if you are on a budget like I was when I visited. There are lots of different options so if you are traveling in a group of people, everyone can pick and choose what they’re in the mood for. Be warned, if you’re as indecisive as I am you might be here for ages trying to settle on something though haha! A lot of people also like Poppies fish and chips if your craving some classic British food.

IMG_1558My travel buddy Emma on one of the many bike seats.

3. Take a ride on a motor bike! After grabbing some food, make your way over to the motorcycle seats to eat along the water. And while you’re enjoying your time on the bike feeling like a bad ass, maybe even turn on some Bound 2, you’ll feel like your right out of the music video.

4. Visit the antique shops. There are loads of neat little trinkets, clothes, old advert posters, and much more that are fun to look at. Plus, what better souvenir to bring back home with you than a unique vintage piece of London!

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5. Visit the locks. Take a little stroll along the locks, especially on a sunny day. There are a few little cafes along the walkway and the walk is pretty peaceful to just enjoy the weather and have a nice chat with your friends. It also is nice after stuffing yourself full of the delicious food.

Well thats all for today everyone, but hope to see you back soon when I talk about my University experience! If you’ve visited the area before feel free to comment down below with your tips and advice.IMG_1567

Until next time,New blog signature 2

Greetings from Bath!

Bath Header 2As you probably already know if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, for reading week this term, my Dad and Brother came to visit me and while they were over in the U.K. we took a side trip to Bath. Bath is only about an hour and a half away from London by train and it truly is a lovely ride! Once we arrived in Bath, it was only a short walk from the train station to the bed and breakfast we stayed in, so we checked in, dropped our belongings off and set out to explore the historic city. One thing I loved about Bath was how charming and walkable it was, and we definitely lucked out on the gorgeous weather while we were briefly visiting, which probably enhanced our experience even more! Our first stop was to the city centre to pay the  Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths  a visit.IMG_0836Here is the front side where you enter. When we went on the free walking tour of the city, the guide told us about parts of the architecture that revealed bits of Bath’s history, which was quite interesting.IMG_0814IMG_0815IMG_0816IMG_0822The interior of Bath Abbey was so intricate and beautiful!

Our next stop was the Roman Baths . . .IMG_0838Don’t mind the very  attractive scaffolding, repairs have to be done sometime or another to keep everything in tip top shape!IMG_0845View from the top balcony overlooking the main bath. IMG_0843Another balcony view overlooking the main bath.IMG_0857You can even see the steam rising! The tour guide at the baths said that the water was just about body temperature or a bit warmer. IMG_0866Off to the East baths we go . . .IMG_0868Although we were given hand-held audio guides during our visit, we stumbled upon a tour guide leading visitors around the baths which was a much more interactive and interesting way to learn about the history of the remains.IMG_0873I thought it was neat that there were torches lit to create a more authentic atmosphere.IMG_0877Such a beautiful reflection that the time of day allowed. IMG_0880Here is where you could toss a coin into the pool and hope that it was denser than the water because if it sank, your wish supposedly was meant to come true. However, if your coin floated, you would be cursed according to Roman beliefs. Luckily my coin was on my side with this one . . .IMG_0882Classic touristy sibling picture! I felt so short next to my Brother ha ha. 

On day two, a.k.a. our final day to explore this wonderful city, we had a lovely breakfast at our hotel and made our way back to the city centre where we attended a free walking tour of Bath led by local volunteers who were incredibly knowledgeable about the history and knew interesting facts about the area. Although it was a pretty lengthy tour, it was such a beautiful day that I hardly noticed, and it was definitely worth learning about the city through the perspective of a resident. This isn’t to say that it was a waste to explore the area on our own, but I think it is quite nice to gain some depth by listening to someone who is excited, passionate, and proud to speak about the place in which they live because it makes learning about a new place much more engaging! I learned quite a bit about Georgian architecture including the rule of three and the strive for symmetry and balance, at least when you look at the front side of the buildings that is. . . You see that was the irony of it all as our tour guide explained, because during this era, the buildings were often composed of eight or more residences and for each home, a separate architect was hired. This meant that although the building face had to be cohesive with the other places of residence, the architects had full reign over what the interior and back sides could look like, and therefore, when you look at the back sides of the buildings they look like a hot mess of random designs. I think it adds character to the homes and it certainly makes a more interesting story, don’t you think? I wish I had a picture to show you, but I guess you’ll just have to pay the city a little visit yourself sometime! During our tour, we were also able to look at some of the ornate rooms in the building where the Fashion Museum was located.IMG_0902Here is everyone in my walking tour group trying to snap quick photos of the beautiful room.IMG_0896Here is another grand room where you are greeted by the balcony that Keira Knightley made a speech on top of during the film The Duchess.

After finishing the walking tour of the city, we visited the Fashion Museum which primarily focused on the historical dress of the Georgian period and included modern-day fashions and how trends have evolved over time. As someone who enjoys seeing what people wore during different eras, I found this museum really informative and visually interesting! Although I love looking at fashion designs, I think that this museum is definitely a must see for everyone because it is nicely put together and even my Brother and Dad liked it! (and let’s be honest they’re not the most concerned with keeping up with the latest fashion trends). By the end of the day we were all pretty exhausted so we went back to the lovely Kennard to gather our belongings and board the train back to London. I was sad to leave “the red room” that  I stayed in and travel back to reality, but the trip had to come to an end at some point. . .IMG_0887My Brother reading his Game of Thrones book in the red room at The Kennard Hotel.

Family is so important to me and since I hadn’t seen my family in person since I left home back in September, it was so nice to see some familiar faces and spend a week showing them around my new home in London! It was especially nice to get to have some sibling bonding time with my younger Brother and learn more about how things are back home. He probably would never admit it, as I suspect he really enjoys being an only child back home, but I think he secretly appreciated my company on the trip as well. Hopefully I will make my way back to Bath sometime in the future as it is such a calm and friendly city to explore! But . . .

Until next time,New blog signature 2

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“It’s Turkey Lurkey Time . . .”

Well it’s that time of the year again where we can all indulge in a delicious feast of food and sweets and not feel one ounce of guilt about it because we are spending our day in the company of friends and family! As a foodie, it’s only natural that I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Although I have definitely been spoiled with my mother’s good cooking as a result of  devoting her day to preparing the stuffed turkey, buttery yams, and homemade cranberry sauce among other things. But just because I’m overseas this year did not mean I would treat this Thursday like any ordinary day, oh no no no. . . I have to admit that it was a little difficult accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be able to spend the holiday with my family this year. It was hard to believe I would miss out on the tradition of pulling myself out of bed before noon to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, keeping my mom company in the kitchen while eating any handouts she might have to offer, or the epic nerf gun fights with my brother, and getting to spend real quality time with relatives, as cliché as that may sound. The eight-hour time difference didn’t really help any chance of a virtual Thanksgiving via Skype either. However, although I may have not gotten to celebrate the holiday with my immediate family, I was able to share new memories with my London family, something that I will greatly cherish when I look back on Thanksgivings in the future. I decided to share a piece of my day through this video which my friends so graciously were a part of (thank you Alex, Brian, Christian, Katelyn and Lidia). I’m so grateful that I have people in my life that surround me with joy, support and positivity who have allowed me to have an enriching and unique experience! Sending love and thanks to friends and family!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

Hungry for The Hunger Games

Well this post is long overdue . . .

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Let’s take a trip back to November shall we. Before embarking on this study abroad experience, I had heard that one of things I must do while in the city is attend a film premiere, so when I heard that the world premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was going to be in Leicester Square (thanks mom) I knew I had to make the journey into the city. After all  I wasn’t going to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity like this, plus Jennifer Lawrence was set to attend and who wouldn’t want a chance to meet someone as funny and talented as her. After class, I persuaded my friend Lidia to go to Central London with me a few hours before the time that the premiere was set to begin so that we could get a decent area to stand and watch the event take place. Despite the dedicated crowds of people who had been standing there for hours before, some of which even camped out overnight, we managed to snag a couple of standing spots closer to the end of the red carpet. Since the event wasn’t set to start until 5:30 we ended up standing in the drizzling rain for about four hours before any stars started arriving, but it was well worth it! All of the people involved in the film were incredibly gracious to their fans, although, they had to move along quite quickly where we were standing to make it inside on time. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete with out a classic comedic line from Jennifer Lawrence who in response to the interviewer asking how she was, responded “I’m good, I just found a couple of Mentos in my pocket!”IMG_0520IMG_0525IMG_0536And here come the stars we’ve all been waiting for!IMG_0571Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen)IMG_0550Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman)IMG_0554Donald Sutherland (President Snow)IMG_0593Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair)IMG_1082Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) Photo compliments of Lidia.IMG_0582Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne)IMG_0585And finally the beautiful, hilarious and down-to-earth . . .IMG_0588Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen)IMG_0590

Overall, it was a successful evening in London and I would definitely recommend attending a movie premiere if you ever get the opportunity because although it can be a long time to wait it is sure to be a memorable experience!

Until next time,New blog signature 2