English sausages are one thing, but English sausages for Easter breakfast are definitely another. These, muffins, and hot cross buns were enjoyed by all this morning. Abby and I also got a chocolate bar each, left over from the hurriedly purchased ones in Turkey. We saved those for later, though. We headed over to Golder's Green Parish Church, conveniently located about five minutes away from our house. The vicar was very friendly, and the mass was similar to our usual Easter service, altered slightly as the church was Anglican. Then it was home for lunch and quickly back out again, in order to make our timeslot at the famous wax museum.
Madame Tussauds: Hannah and Robin
As we approached Madame Tussaud's (now known as Madame Tussauds, but I'm keeping the apostrophe), we saw the massive line protruding from the entrance and down the street. It was just as long as before, but fortunately my Dad had thought to book our tickets beforehand, and we only had to wait for about twenty minutes. I could feel the silent wrath of the people that had been in line for two hours as we quickly slipped by them. The wax museum was packed. The first room we visited contained figures of today's A-list stars and starlets, from Morgan Freeman to Emma Watson to Colin Firth. People were actually able to get right up to the statues, touch their arms, rest a hand on their shoulders. It was difficult, but we managed to get photos with a few of them. Then we squeezed our way out of the room and into the next
This room was brightly coloured and centred around the artist Andy Warhol, whose waxen figure greeted us at the door. We also came across a young Liza Minnelli, as well as other samplings of Warhol's art. Then it was on to the third room. Here we found the stars of yesteryear, including Marilyn Munroe, Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart. There were also a few tried and true actors, those who had seen years of showbiz and are still at it today. Dad posed with Dame Judi Dench, while Abby and I smiled next to Robin Williams. There was also legendary director Steven Spielberg, leaning against his director's chair. On our way out, we encountered Sir Alfred Hitchcock, looking stoic as ever.
Madame Tussauds: Lightning Bolts
From here we moved on to the sports section. My favourite model here was that of Tom Daley, Britain's young diving star from these past Olympics. They had posed him coming down from the ceiling, arched in mid-dive. There was even a projection of a pool below him. Another Olympic star placed in his very familiar "lightning" pose was Usain Bolt, who Abby decided to imitate. Dad raised his fists alongside Muhammad Ali, who was garbed in a purple boxing robe. Among all these great athletes was Tiger Woods' figure, golf club in hand. No one seemed to be taking pictures with him.
The sports area transitioned smoothly into the Royals' room. Diana stood gracefully in her own little corner, ever the People's Princess and still included even though she's not technically royalty. There were three displays aside from her. Harry, Charles, and Camilla (who was definitely not flattered by the artists) stood off to one side, while busts of a few of the kings and queens of the past were placed at the back, each one enclosed in an ornate picture frame. But the main attraction was the one with Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Philip, William, and Kate. These were the first figures that actually had a discernible line leading up to them. The people waiting (Abby and myself included) became more and more disgruntled as a large family of at least ten people took over the display. They were swapping cameras, changing poses and alternating family member for ages. Eventually, one of the staff on hand threatened to call security if they didn't get a move on. As they left, everyone in the room clapped. We did our best to avoid them as we progressed through the rest of the museum.
The next zone was filled with notable minds of the past and present, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, and Vincent Van Gogh (who still had his left ear) among them. There was an interesting painting behind Van Gogh, a half-finished compilation of a few of his works. We also encountered the most famous bard in history, William Shakespeare, clothed in 16th century-style attire.
After this, it was on to the music section. This room was nearly as busy as the first. Many of today's pop icons were there, like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, complete with a telephone on her head. Older musicians still celebrated today included Freddie Mercury from Queen, singing into a microphone, and all of the Beatles, sitting together with guitars and drumsticks in hand.
Music legends turned into world leaders, and we came across a very familiar face: Atatürk. Seems as though we'll never stop running into him. There were a few of the UK's political leaders, such as Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher and current Prime Minister David Cameron. They were all placed in front of the 10 Downing Street residence. Off to the side, right next to the Downing Street sign, was Vladimir Putin, of all people. It looked like they didn't really have anywhere to put him, so they just stuck him in the corner. Further along in the room, there was a rather controversial pairing of figures. Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler stood right next to each other, the former with his hand on his cane and the latter with his fist in the air. We snapped a photo, but didn't feel much like posing between the two. Barack Obama stood behind a desk flanked by flags with the presidential seal in front. While the set looked authentic enough, Obama's statue left a little to be desired. Something about the face. A number of religious leaders lined the wall near the exit, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI, and the 14th Dalai Lama all side by side. Wonder when the new pope's figure will be introduced.
Crazy about all things Potter
We were somewhat nonplussed by the Chamber of Horrors and Scream exhibits we found there. There were wax models being tortured and killed in a variety of gruesome ways all around us as we entered the supposed nightmare of Scream. It was advertised as unsuitable for those with cardiac and respiratory issues, a scary place full of live actors pretending to be unhinged criminals. In reality, it was a darkened passageway with flashing lights that allowed you to see the make-upped actors hiding in corners, ready to jump out every few seconds and breath menacingly in your ears. Abby decided to skip this, and I can't say she missed much.
After this ordeal, we entered a room detailed the "making of" process that all the wax figures had gone through. This was pretty interesting, and we saw how the face molds were made, the matching of eye colours and the threading of each individual hair into the waxen scalps of the statues.
We then took a Disney-esque ride called the Spirit of London. You board a classic black taxi and are whirled through the history of England's capital, from the Black Death to Guy Fawkes Day. This was more enjoyable, and helped us brush up on our knowledge of London a little bit, though I mostly just focused on the intricate sets and statues we rode by.
King's Cross: Platform 9 3/4
The last stop was dedicated to Marvel Comics and its characters, and included a colossal sculpture of the Hulk. After we'd seen Iron Man's suit and Wolverine with his adamantium claws unsheathed, we were ushered into a 4D theatre to see a superhero short set in London, specifically in front of Buckingham Palace. It was a little cheesy, obviously, but still impressive. After two hours, we emerged from Madame Tussaud's, and headed over to a different kind of theatre.
Abby and I received the special treat of a Harry Potter-themed live show from our parents. The show is called Potted Potter, and is a comical parody by two Brits that condensed the entire Harry Potter series into seventy minutes. To see how this show got started and more about the actors that created it, this is the official website.
After the show, we headed over to Trafalgar Square in order to meet up with Mom and Auntie Helen. For dinner, we went to a very English pub for a very English meal: fish and chips. For most of us, anyways. Mom tried out a traditional English pie filled with chicken and mushrooms, and Abby tried a tomato-y chicken dish. Dad and Auntie Helen had a couple pints, of course, one light and one dark. The former wasn't actually so bad. We had a very friendly waiter that actually knew a bit about Canada, and he ended up calling our collective table "Saskatchewan" for the duration of the evening.
To round off our last day in London, we rode the metro down to King's Cross Station, and posed with the famous Platform 9 3/4 sign, complete with half a luggage trolley to look like it was going through the wall. The films actually use a spot between platforms 4 and 5, so we visited them too and walked where a few scenes from the world-renowned movies had been made. It was a wonderful way for Abby and I to bid London farewell.