Saturday, April 19, 2014


Got up early and headed out to Anaheim Convention Center for day two of Wondercon. I was going with Chris, Jes and Dallas but planned to meet up with other friends while there.

I was not cosplaying this time, which felt weird but there was no way I was going to be able to do that since I was out of the country just two days prior. Chris was cosplaying as a large Red Five (Red Five Standing By).

We parked at the Disneyland Toy Story parking since I have a season pass to Disneyland we could park there for free (instead of $16) and it's across the street from the convention center.

We got to the con and started walking the floor. The only panel I wanted to see was the Star Wars Rebels panel. And I only planned on buying new Star Wars "Pop" figures. Well that was until I saw there was a second set of Hobbit figures as well as a set of Goonies figures. So I allotted myself enough money to purchase all of these. Now it was time to find the best deal.

As we walked the floor we ran into a few friends here and there but I knew there were a bunch of friends here that I still haven't seen. 

We grabbed some lunch at some food trucks.. the lines were super long but it actually didn't take that long to get our food.

Once we got back to the con we all split up. Chris and I went upstairs to get in line for the Rebels panel and I'm glad we were there an hour early as the line was already around the corner and out the door. There was no way we were going to make it into this panel. Luckily my buddy Doug was quite a bit further up in the line and let Chris and I cut in, so we managed to get in right before the panel started.

I'm a huge Clone Wars and Dave Filoni fan so I was super excited for Star Wars: Rebels. On the panel was Dave, another EP and one of the voice actress' who plays Hera. They showed off some cool concept art and played a clip from the upcoming series but it wasn't anything out of this world. I'm glad I went but I've seen better panels with Dave.

On our way out of the panel we ran into several more friends, then we made our way down to the showroom floor and ran into friend after friend. It was funny as I was saying to Chris when we were in the Star Wars panel.. "I see so many tweets from friends who are here but I haven't seen any of them" then wham... we run into them one after another.

I did pick up the Goonies set of five Pop figures as well as the second set of The Hobbit Pop figures. I'm holding off on buying the Star Wars ones until tomorrow.

A group of us went out for a goodbye dinner at Buca Di Beppo. Joining me for this dinner was Dallas, Chris, Brian, Anne, Nicki, Doug, and Jes. And to everyone's surprise Brian picked up the bill... thanks Brian.

I was so tired by the end of the day but we were invited up to our friend Eric's hotel room he was having a gaming party. So we stopped by and played a game of Rampage. It was a ton of fun.. lots of moving pieces and it's fun destroying a city.

It was now 10pm and we called it a night. We were coming back tomorrow to do it all over again.

The con was fun but I do wish I had cosplayed.. cosplaying and cons have become synonyms with each other. I felt out of sorts all day because I wasn't in a costume.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Day of Rest

Well I got a full 8 hours of sleep but I'm still exhausted. I figured it will take me a while to get over the jet lag and just being on the go the past 34 days but because of the timing I can't rest as my buddy Chris is visiting for a week.

This is actually Wondercon weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday but I knew there would be no way I'd be able to go today. I told Chris that this would be a day of rest for me before going to Wondercon this weekend and Disneyland on Monday. He was cool with it.

So we got up and headed to the NoHo Diner for some breakfast. And just kind of relaxed. It was nice just hanging with Chris. I hadn't seen him over seven months so it was good to take some time and just catch up with each other.

In the afternoon Chris went out to lunch with our friend Jes, but I couldn't leave as I was waiting for the mail person to deliver my 30 days worth of mail. While I waited I added up all my vacation expense and was happy to see that I came in under budget. I mean I still spent a lot of money but I didn't go over my cap that I had set for myself.. so woohoo!!!

Chris then went over to Jes' place to finish his cosplay costume for Wondercon this weekend. They invited me over but my mail person had not arrived yet.. so I thought. I went down to my mail box and sure enough I had mail.. but they never delivered my backlog of mail (which is what I requested when I put in my Mail Hold form). So I jumped in the car and drove to my local post office, asked for my mail and sure enough there it was. I don't know why they didn't deliver it as requested.. but anyways I now have to go through my pile of mail.

I did get a surprise package in the mail from my buddy Ken Todd. I had done him a favor a few months back and he wanted to thank me so he got me season 3 of Sherlock and a movie that he wanted me to watch called, The Island on Top of the World. Which I'm pretty sure I have seen when I was a kid.. I look forward to checking it out. Thanks Ken for being awesome.

Chris got home and he asked me to style his hair. It's fairly long for him and he wanted to try out the "Ted Mosby" look.. which in essences is just a bit messy. So I put some product in it and did my best.. I think he looks great, but he's not so sure.

Chris and I spent the evening playing Lord of the Rings Online.. well not really playing. We've been wanting to purchase a block of houses next to each other in the Shire for our characters. Well we finally found two deluxe houses with a Kinship house in the middle, so we packed up everything and moved houses. My new address 5 Brookbank Street, Nearbank, The Shire, Middle Earth. While our Kinship house is 4 Brookbank and Chris' house is 3 Brookbank.

I miss playing LOTRO with him and even though we didn't actually do any quests it was still fun hanging in Middle Earth with him.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 34

I was up early, showered, packed and on the shuttle bus back to the Dublin airport. When I arrived in at the Dublin airport a month ago it seemed that this was a fairly small airport as we didn't walk through much before we got our bags, went through customs and exited. But I was wrong, there are only two terminals but it was extremely confusing on where I had to go to check in and after walking around for about a half hour I found the check in counter. Once checked in, I had to find security which I knew was up the stairs as I passed in my previous adventures, but I wasn't sure which line I had to get in as there were no definite signs. So I got in one and hoped it was right. After what felt like forever I got up to the security woman who checked my passport and flight info and let me pass through.. woo hoo I chose the correct line. I then did the typical airport security stuff but they don't require the taking off of our shoes, at least not canvas shoes. It looked like they require the removal of boot type shoes.

Once again my bag was stopped and checked. They removed an aerosol can of suntan lotion (which I never used) and I was good to go. I then had to make my way to the US Pre-Screening/Customs section. Here I had to feel out my customs form and claim the stuff I'm bringing into the US. I then got in line to talk to a custom agent. Some folks looked like they were being grilled, finger prints being checked and such. But for me the guy looked down at my custom form, asked me a few questions, verified that the bag on the screen was the one I checked in and then let me through. But this wasn't the end.. I now had to go through US security check point and do a full body scan. This one I had no issues with.

I finally got through it all with an hour left before we started boarding. The good thing is now when I arrived in Chicago I don't have to go through all this again. Glad I arrived to the airport 3 hours before my flight.

Boarded the plane and found my seat. I was sitting in the middle aisle but luckily it was an end seat and there was no one next to me. The flight was fairly uneventful. I watched 3 movies.. Matrix, which of course I have seen many times but it always fun. Highlander which I have seen bits and pieces but never the entire thing.. I enjoyed it. And finally The Devil Wears Prada, which I had never seen and again it was a fun movie. I've heard good things about it and it lived up to what folks said about it.

We landed in Chicago and I had a four hour layover so I decided to grab some lunch (Chinese). I also was able to turn my phone back on and watch it go crazy as it uploaded to the date network and started to receive a months worth of notifications.

I found my gate and sat there for an hour or so. I noticed that this flight was full and there were a good 20 people on standby for it. I went to the bathroom and when I got back I noticed that many of the people that were sitting around me were gone. I looked up at the flight data on the monitor and saw that there were empty seats, then I heard one of the employees make an announcement that my flight had been changed to a different gate. I grabbed my stuff and made my way halfway through the terminal to get to this new gate. I sat there for about 20 minutes when a guy next me to said.. you need to exchange that pass for an official boarding pass, I asked if they announced this and he said no but he's flown enough to know this.. so I went up to the counter and asked if I had to exchange this and sure enough you did. We boarded 10 minutes later.

They moved us to a larger plane but this plane didn't have any video screens in the seats so there was no entertainment for the entire 4 hour flight. Luckily I had my ipod so I listened to podcasts but not knowing the distance we had flown or how close we were to LA kind of drove me crazy. About the last hour of the flight I needed to get off the plane. I was so done flying.

We landed in Los Angeles and I made my way to baggage area. As I got close to the carriage I saw my buddy Doug and my best bud Chris holding up his iPad with the world "Baggins" written across it. It made me smile...

Doug was kind enough to pick me up at the airport as my previous plans fell apart. It was awesome to see Chris. He had been in Kuwait the past six months but arrived in LA a few days ago to hang with his friends for a week before heading back to Montana to continue his military service.

Doug dropped Chris and I off at my apartment. A few things had fallen from the numerous earthquakes that we have had the past month but for the most part everything looked great.

We went out and grabbed some Taco Bell (this is Chris' favorite fast food and he hadn't had any for over six months) and I only had it once in my travels... it was very tasty. We came home and chatted for a few hours. It was around 9pm when I got home and I wanted to stay up to 11 to try and fight off jet lag.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 33

This is my last day here in the UK, so I spent the morning planning my tube/train trip to the airport. After that was all figured out I packed up and headed into downtown London for one last time. I was using Thomas' "very expensive" camera on this trip and I didn't want to have to ship it back to him so he said I could leave it with his sister Toni who happens to work in London.

I attempted to find out place of employment but failed as I got lost (this was the worst part about not having a smart phone with GPS). I had to check out of my hostel by 11am so I had to head back. Lucky for me I found a tube that could get me back there in time.. well ten minutes late but it was all good. I asked if I could leave my luggage at the hostel as I wanted to make another attempt at finding Toni's workplace. The hostel was great and let me store my bags there.

I headed back into downtown London and attempted to find her address, this time I was successful and was able to drop all the camera at her place of work. I then grabbed some lunch and kind of wandered around the city for an hour or so just taking it all in. I made my way back to the hostel and picked up my luggage.

It took three different tubes but I found the train station I needed and booked a ticket to London Southend airport. It was an hour train ride but a nice one, I got to see some pretty and not so pretty countryside.

This was a very tiny airport and it's no wonder that nobody (friends) had heard of it before. I checked in and waited to board. I noticed that these planes were a lot smaller then the usual ones that I'm use to flying in.... they actually have propellers.

It was a good flight and I made it safely to Dublin, Ireland and had to go through customs once again. It was tough to find but I managed to take the shuttle from the airport to the hotel were I was staying for the evening before my flight out of Dublin back home in the morning.

This hotel was in the middle of no where and I was starving so I went downstairs to their one restaurant and had one of the most expensive dinners during this trip, and the food wasn't even that great.

I was exhausted, watched a bit of TV and called it an early night... tomorrow is going to be a big travel day but by the end I'll be sleeping in my own bed... can't wait!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 32

Today I headed back into downtown London to find Baker street, 221 B Baker street to be exact. If you do not know the address then you must not be a Sherlock Holmes fan. It's the address of this fictional characters home. At the time the Holmes stories were published, addresses in Baker Street did not go as high as 221. Baker Street was later extended, and in 1932 the Abbey National Building Society moved into premises at 219–229 Baker Street. For many years, Abbey National employed a full-time secretary to answer mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes. In 1990, a blue plaque signifying 221B Baker Street was installed at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, situated elsewhere on the same block, and there followed a 15-year dispute between Abbey National and the Holmes Museum for the right to receive mail addressed to 221B Baker Street. Since the closure of Abbey House in 2005, ownership of the address by the Holmes Museum has not been challenged, despite its location between 237 and 241 Baker Street.

I had planned to walk through the museum but there was a two hour wait just to get in and I didn't have the time so instead I went into the gift shop and looked around a bit. I purchased a very cool Sherlock Holmes silver coin to remember my visit. I also got some cool Sherlock Holmes business cards.

The big thing today and one of the most important things I wanted to do on this trip and that was to visit Leavesden studios. This is were the majority of the filming for all eight Harry Potter movies have taken place. They have even turned a portion of the studio into The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter. It opened a few years ago and it's been on my bucket list since. My buddy Markus was actually treating me to this and was going to join me for this adventure. Taking a train in from Worchestershire.

First thing I had to do was find a way to get to Watford Junction as this is where you pick up the bus to the studio. I headed to one of the many train stations to catch a train to Watford. I didn't know the system but the guy at the ticket counter was very informative and told me that I wanted a train that had Watford Junction listed more towards the top then at the bottom, meaning less stops and more direct. I purchased my ticket and went to the waiting area... while there I went to grab my phone and realized it wasn't in my pocket. I quickly looked around the area to see if it fell out but there was not sign of it. The only thing I can think of is that I was pick pocketed while milling through the crowds of people on the tube.

What make it even worse was this wasn't even my blackberry. It was my friend Thomas who loaned it to me while I was visiting him in Ireland. I felt horrible, this was the worst thing that had happen to me on this trip. When I told Thomas that it had been stolen I could tell he was upset and that just made it worse for me.

I had to shake it off as I was about to do something that I've been wanting to do for several years and I couldn't let this damper that experience.

The train ride was nice, I got to see a bit of the countryside. It was about a 45 minute train ride. Once at the station I headed out front to wait for me buddy Markus. I was there for about 30 minutes when he arrived. We had just missed the bus to the tour but we were first in line for the next one.

The bus arrived and Markus and I headed to the top level and sat in the very front. It felt like forever but it's only a 15 minute drive from Watford Junction to  Leavesden Studios.

Once there I couldn't stop smiling, they had huge posters and statues outside the studio that I had to get video and pictures of. Once inside Markus surprised me and had purchased the audio tour as well, so we were given equipment so we could punch in the number on the display and hear interesting and fun facts about said object.

We started the tour with a group of people in a room and watching a video explaining the studio and such. Then a few people who were celebrating a birthday get to go up front and push these huge doors open to reveal the Great Hall. And when I say the great hall it's actually the Great Hall that they used to film on. There are house tables filled with Wizard foods and behind those tables are costumes from each house. At the other end of the hall is the professors dining tables along with costumes wore by the actors. It's all a bit overwhelming.

You get about ten minutes to walk around and look at things before the next group comes in so you exit to the left into another room that's kind of section off and there are props and costumes everywhere. There are several staged areas like Harry's dormitory, the Gryffindor common room, Snapes potion class, Hagrid's Hut, Dumbledores office, The Weasley house and Professors Umbridge's office.

There is also a section that shows you how the special effect work and a place were you can be filmed flying on a broom using green screen technology (for an additional cost). There is so much so see in just this one room. Unfortunately my cameras SD cards were getting full. I couldn't take as many pictures as I would have liked but I got a fair amount. They say the tour on average lasts about three hours. Well I stayed in just the first section for three hours. I had three more hours left before the last bus to Watford Junction and I didn't know how much more I had to see. Markus had done the tour before and was on a time crush as he had to catch a train much earlier then mine so he was going through things much faster then me as I wanted to stand there and take it all in, so we split up about 10 minutes into the tour. Unfortunately I didn't get to see him the rest of the tour or say goodbye and to thank him for the tickets.

Once you leave a section you can't go back so I had to make sure I had seen everything in this first section before heading to the next. Between the two buildings is an open courtyard where  you can get food (but since it was so late in the day they had run out). I did get a butter beer, which was just as amazing as the ones you get in Florida at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Outside had larger set pieces. The Weasley's Ford Angular, Hagrid's Motorcycle, the triple decker Knight Bus, alot of the chess pieces from the first movie, Privet drive #4 (Harry's Aunt's House), the Trestle bridge from the later movies and James and Lilies destroyed house. I spent about an hour outside here leaving me two hours to finish. As a treat to attendees they had the actual film owls visiting the studios today, Hedwig was in front of privet drive so I got a picture with her.

I headed into the second building and into the first section with actually special effect crew members there working on making a feathered Buckbeak, it was pretty good. This section looked to be all about the special effects. The second room had more props like the huge Aragog spider, or half of one of the dragons from movies.

You then turn the corner and enter Diagon Alley and I have to say it's pretty AWESOME!!! Here is were the other 2 owls are, Pigwidgeon and Errol. I couldn't get over how much the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley looked like this one. It's almost an exact replica.

After Diagon Alley you entire another room with a ton of concept drawings and art from the films. There are also paper mock ups of buildings and such. After this area you walk into a very dark room and your breath his taken away as you stare this large model of Hogwarts Castle.

The model was built for the first film - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - and has been used for exterior shots in every film since. When all the time spent by 86 artists and crew members is added up, it took an incredible 74 years to build. Measuring 50 feet across, it has more than 2,500 fibre optic lights to simulate lantern torches and students passing through hallways. It even has miniature owls in the Owlery and hinges on the doors. It's one of the most impressive pieces that I have seen.

At the end of the tour you walk through Olivanders wand shop and there are thousands of boxes embedded into the walls with the names of every single person who had worked on the films. I spent about 10 minutes looking for names that I knew.

You then exit through the gift shop. I had about 15 minutes before I had to catch the final bus and I wanted something to remember this experience. And they had so many cool things. So in the end I got a T-shirt (exclusively sold there) and a Silver Harry Potter commemorative coin.

I took a few final pictures in the lobby before getting in line for the bus. The trek back to the hostel was uneventful. I had spent six hours at the tour, doubling the "average" stay and I could have spent another six hours if they allowed me. This will defiantly be on my list of things to do when I return to London for another visit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 31

Today is my full day in London, I have been looking forward to London this entire trip. Since I had my "tube" maps it was much easier to find my way around. First stop was Big Ben. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower. The tower is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower, renamed as such to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II (prior to being renamed in 2012 it was known as simply "Clock Tower"). The tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. The tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom and is often in the establishing shot of films set in London.

Of course Big Ben is attached to the House of Parliament aka The Palace of Westminster which is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence.

Both of these structures are iconic and being their in person was just amazing. I walked around the structures and took as many pictures and video as I could. By the way the weather was amazing!!

While on the other side of the River Thames trying to get a full shot of the entire Palace you can't help but see this huge Ferris wheel called The London Eye. The entire structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft). When erected in 1999 it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel. Supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels, the Eye is described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel".

I had planned to ride the wheel but unfortunately I never got a chance... guess there is always next time. 

Next on my stop was Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic, church in the City of Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and has been the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs.

I didn't go in the building as there was a huge line and I was trying to see as much of London as I could. But I will say that Big Ben, Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey are some of the most incredibly detailed and beautiful buildings that I have ever seen.

I made my way through St. Thomas Park, which was beautiful.. I love that they have this piece of green land with a beautiful lake right in the middle of the city. I was making my way to Buckingham Palace.

I was at the right place at the right time as this was one of those rare opportunities to witness the changing of the guards. It was both amazing and horrible as there were thousands of people all over the place. I got to see the new guards march up The Mall to Buckingham Palace and then I made my way through the crowds to try and see the actually event but with the thousands of people and large gates in front of the palace, you really couldn't see much.  I did get to see the "relieved" guards exiting Buckingham Palace and marching away.

It was kind of like controlled chaos. It was great seeing this but I think I might have liked to have seen Buckingham Palace without all the people surrounding it. I never had a chance go back and see it on an off day... next time.

I walked through Green Park (another beautifully green park in the middle of the city) and made my way to SoHo and then West End. The West End of London (more commonly referred to as simply the West End) is an area of Central London containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues (including the commercial West End theatres).

I continued my walk through Chinatown and Leicester Square back to the Thames River. I walked along the north side of the Thames River for a bit before crossing The Millennium Bridge, it's officially known as the London Millennium Footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames in London, linking Bankside with the City of London. Construction of the bridge began in 1998, with the opening in June 2000.

Londoners nicknamed the bridge the "Wobbly Bridge" after participants in a charity walk on behalf of Save the Children to open the bridge felt an unexpected and, for some, uncomfortable swaying motion on the first two days after the bridge opened. The bridge was closed later that day, and after two days of limited access the bridge was closed for almost two years while modifications were made to eliminate the wobble entirely. It reopened in 2002.

This was on my must see list as I've seen it in many movie most recently Harry Potter. It was fun walking across the bridge to the other side. Once there I checked out the Globe Theater and walked along the south side of the River for a stretch.

Made my way to London Bridge and crossed back across the river the north side of the Thames and made my way to the Tower of London. Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence.

Again all I did was walk around the area as there was a line but this place looked like it would be a "day" event and not just an hour or so and if I was going to spend a large amount of money I wanted to make sure I had the time to really enjoy it. I plan to go inside the tower on my next visit.

I then walk across what I thought was the "London Bridge" but come to find out it's actually called Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge (built 1886–1894) is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London which crosses the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name, and has become an iconic symbol of London.

When I saw this bridge from afar I assumed it was the famous London Bridge but when I actually got to the London Bridge (which really isn't anything special) I knew I was wrong. I walked across the Tower Bridge to the south side of the river. I opted not to pay to go up and over the bridge.

I made my way back to Kings Cross Station via the tubes and was determined to find Platform 9 3/4 and sure enough, I don't know how I missed it yesterday, but there it was. Not only is there a photo op but there is an actual store called Platform 9 3/4 next to it.

I got in the line for the photo op and at first I was kind of embarrassed as there were nothing but young teenage girls and a few boys standing in front of me and all the parents were standing around the outside waiting. My embarrassment only lasted a few seconds when I told myself that I love Harry Potter and I don't really care what these people think of me. I'm just as much of a fan if not more then these kids and I want my picture too. 

I waited for about a half hour or so and it was finally my turn. The guy who was helping with the photos handed me a Gryffindor Scarf but I held up my hand and said... Hufflepuff please so he wrapped a yellow and blue scarf around my neck. I asked one of the adults standing around if she wouldn't mind taking a picture of me and she obliged. What they have you do is hold onto the basket and the guy who is working there grabs the back of your scarf and says one, two, three and then throws the scarf up and backs away while another employee takes a photo and tells you to look back as your pretend to run. I did a few takes and it was a very magical experience. Of course when you're done you then go over to Platform 9 3/4 and you can buy that picture for 10 pounds and of course I didn't hesitate.

Next I attempted to find the door (221 B Baker Street) used in the current Sherlock tv series. After walking around for about an hour I was unsuccessful and called it quits. I would attempt it again tomorrow. For now I headed back to the hostel.

I was so exhausted as I had walked all around downtown London for about 12 hours but it was so worth it as this will be a day that I will never forget.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 30

Was up early as this is the last leg of my Dream Vacation... I had to drive from Bromsgrove to Luton to drop off my rental car before taking a bus into London. I said my goodbyes to Meds. I had a great time and wish I would have scheduled more time to hangout with him and his family.

It was about 100 miles to Luton and a 2 hour trip. I had to get the car to the rental place by 11am. When I got into Luton I searched for a gas station and filled up my tank and after a few miss tries I found my way to the rental place just outside the Luton airport. I took a shuttle bus to the Luton airport were I then picked up a bus that would drive me into downtown London.

I drove over 1600 miles in the past 16 days. Driving was my biggest worry but I'm happy to say that I didn't have a single incident other then hitting the right curb a few hundred times. I'm extremely happy that I choose to rent a car instead of taking the train. I got to see so much more of the countryside (though a bit of it was covered in fog) and had a richer experience here in the UK.

So I made it to the bus station in downtown London and then made my way to the Victoria tube/train station. It was a bit overwhelming but I'm not afraid to ask questions so I got the low down on where I needed to go and which tube would get me there.

I got me an Oyster card and put about 40 pounds on it hoping it would last me my entire time here in London. I found out that my hostel was just inside Zone 3. I made my way to the tube with my luggage in tow and took it to the end of the line.

I got off the train and the fun began. I couldn't figure out where my hostel was. The blackberry I had was horrible with maps and I walked around dragging my two large pieces of luggage all over the place. After walking in circles a few times I managed to finally find it.

This was a single room hostel with a shared bathroom. The room was nice and the bed was fairly large. I dropped off my luggage and then headed back into the center of London to do some sight seeing.

My first stop was Kings Cross Station to look for Platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter reference). I walked around that station for a good half hour and couldn't find it. I then tried to walk to Baker street and was lost for a good hour. Eventually I found my way to 221 B Baker street (Sherlock Holmes reference). By the time I got there the museum was closed but I did get some pictures. I also found the Baker street tube entrance and there was a statue of Sherlock Holmes as well as some tile work that was done inside the waiting area for the tube.

While at Baker street I grabbed a detailed map of London as I didn't want to get lost again like I did today. Night was beginning to fall so after looking at my map I figured out which tubes I had to take to get back to my hostel. Night had fallen by the time I got back to the hostel, the neighborhood I'm staying in isn't the best so I moved every quickly to get to my hostel.

Between all the traveling and walking around the city lost I was exhausted and called it a night. Can't wait to do London properly tomorrow.