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

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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

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like, Dare I Say Christmas?

Here’s an instrumental version of the popular song for some background music whilst you read. Enjoy!

Why hello lovely people of the blogosphere! It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write an update on my adventures and this post is long overdue . . . Now I know it is still November, but since the U.K doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve started to get in to the Christmas spirit early this year. Luckily, I  got back from my Amsterdam trip on Friday, just in time to get to watch the Regent Street holiday lighting and fireworks over the Thames on Saturday evening (the 16th of November)! I went over to Central London with Lidia and got off of the tube near Southbank to go watch the firework show that was scheduled for 5:30 that evening. It’s still amazes me how quickly it gets dark during the wintertime here, but I suppose it isn’t much different from back home in that respect. On the walk towards the river we stumbled upon the Southbank market occupied by vendors filling the bank side with the glorious aroma of hot food off the griddle. As you have probably figured out by now if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs, I have a slight food fixation. Since I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch or dinner, I decided to pick up a kielbasa to eat on the go as Lidia had made it sound quite appealing. We made our way towards our usual coffee-house of choice located along the Thames to indulge in a cappuccino, but upon our arrival, the fireworks started going off so we postponed the java and turned our attention towards the illuminated night sky. The firework shows here seem to be really extravagant! Although I have made it a tradition to attend the fourth of July firework show over the lake back home, I have never seen something quite this grandiose. As someone who loves the holiday season, I had to make it over to Regent St. to witness the lights turn on.IMG_0464 IMG_0465 IMG_0470 IMG_0475

There were so many people on Regent St. all packed in to watch the holiday lights turn on! IMG_0494The Lights are off . . . IMG_0495 and now they are on!!!IMG_0497Fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season on Regent St.IMG_0509The row of lights down the street.IMG_1071

Each of the light arbors were themed with different days from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which made both Lidia and I realize that we don’t know the song as well as we thought we did. Although, I am notoriously bad at singing lyrics correctly ha ha. There is something so magical about having the city lit up with decorations and tons of joyful people walking up and down the streets and I can’t wait to see what the city looks like as the holiday season approaches.

Until next time,New blog signature 2

Just Your Average Day at the Apple Store

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Ever since I saw the Downton Abbey post on Facebook that there was going to be a Q&A with a couple of members of the cast at the Apple store on Regent Street, I have been awaiting the day I would have my brush with the Crawley family, and today was the day! I became addicted to the show a couple of summers ago and couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this! After class, a few of my friends here at Goldsmiths boarded the overground to make our way to central London in hopes of listening to the beautiful Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary, and the ever so handsome Allen Leech who plays Tom Branson, give a talk about the show. Ahh if only I could meet a lovely chauffeur like Branson to whisk me away, sorry ladies Mr. Leech is taken, but a girl can dream right? We decided to get to the store pretty early in case there was a massive line to wait in because if we made the trek over to central London we might as well try to get a decent spot to listen to the actors give their talk. When we arrived at the store, we noticed that the sign for the event stated that you had to make a reservation to get a spot for viewing, which was not specified anywhere on the Facebook notification, but being surrounded by laptops we rushed over to the nearest one to try and secure our spots! Unfortunately, when we found the page to register, the event was all full. NOOOOO . . .  was our first reaction. You mean we traveled all this way for nothing? I figured I would just explain our little situation to one of the Apple store employees and see if there was any possibility of getting into the event if people who had made a reservation didn’t show up. I mean the worst that they could say was “no, I’m sorry the event is full” right? So my friend Katelyn and I spoke with a lovely employee who reassured us that we would be able to come back in about an hour to wait in the stand-by line and at least get to stand in the back for the Q&A. In the meantime, the girls and I decided to grab a bite to eat across the street from the store and get in the stand-by line in an hour. Boy, was the store crowded though. We waited in line for nearly a half an hour and managed to edge our way towards the front, but were still pretty far back.IMG_0233

The entire event was being filmed to document the interview and so that fans could watch the Q&A online from the comfort of their home. IMG_0239Here is a camera man setting up before the actors entered the space.

Once Michelle Dockery and Allen Leech took their seats and began the interview and Q&A session, everyone was snapping pictures and trying to stand on top of the tables or squeeze their way to the front for a better view. My friend Michelle, with height on her side, managed to get a nice photo for my personal documentation!IMG_0247It was quite difficult to get a photo that wasn’t a little blurry due to the fact that the crowd and the actors kept shifting around, but this one turned out nice! You can see Allen Leech to the left and Michelle Dockery on the right.

I wanted to stay for the talk, but unfortunately from where we were standing it was really tricky to hear and understand what the actors were saying and we couldn’t actually see them very well (the zoom on my camera is responsible for the close photo) so we decided to head back home because the event was being filmed and is available online to watch. All in all, it was well worth the wait and now we all know how to make reservations for future events held at the Apple store! I can’t wait to watch the full Q&A with such inspiring actors, not to mention a couple of my favorite characters on the show.

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo

I’m Back . . .

Why hello there, long time no blog post. Well, I’m finally here in London and it has been quite a busy week. I had my Arcadia University (the program that I’m going through to study abroad) orientation and got to meet and bond with some amazing people who are also studying in the U.K. Upon arrival at Goldsmiths University I had another orientation for international students and one for each of the courses I will be studying whilst here. Getting on to the internet here proved to be one of my first challenges. Apparently the wifi can be quite temperamental with MacBooks which has made posting anything in the past week very tricky. After going to get my internet problems sorted out a couple of times at the IT desk and waiting in line for at least an hour, I finally was able to log on to the system! It just made me realize how dependent I have become on accessing the world wide web to pass the time or get in contact with friends and family, and I’m so grateful for the patience that the tech support has here for dealing with so many frustrated students with internet difficulties. This past weekend I spent some time in Central London with one of my friends to explore the city and be tourists for a day. We took the overground over to London Bridge which took about five minutes to get us into the city, a much quicker train ride than the one we had previously taken when we were still figuring out the overground system from Southeast London. Since we didn’t have specific plans to do anything other than grab a bite to eat in Covent Garden, we were able to soak in the sights at a leisurely pace. I suppose it also helps when you know you’ll be in the area for a few months. Covent Garden had a charming market outside of the main stretch of shops and upscale stores that offered slightly less expensive options for college students with a healthy appetite. We settled on a bowl of seafood paella which was hot, flavorful and very filling! IMG_0914The Paella was served in this wooden dish with a neat wooden fork.

After refueling with a late lunch in Covent Garden, we walked to the National Portrait Gallery and then over to Trafalgar Square to take a look in the National Gallery. One of the many great things about being in London is that practically all of the major museums are free which means you can walk through them without feeling rushed to see all of the exhibits. Sometimes it is relaxing to just wander around a bit and take in the pieces of art. Trafalgar Square attracts quite a few street performers and artists, and while we were walking out of the National Gallery, there were some chalk artists drawing the flags of different countries around the world.IMG_0916It is not the best photo because I took it on my iPhone but you get the idea.

The artwork was an interesting way to see where different people were from because people were putting coins on to the flag of their country. After visiting the museums, we decided to walk down to BFI Southbank to get a cup of coffee and rest our tired feet. It has actually become a regular activity when we take a trip into Central London because the coffee is satisfactory and the beautiful location along the river isn’t so bad either! I will be attempting to post more often now that my internet is up and running but for now . . .

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo