A Day in London, Part One: The Tourist Trap

Hello everyone,

Yesterday I shared with you some of my favourite dining experiences from our trip to the UK last month. Today I am going to share with you some of the touristy things we did in London while there, too. This pretty much consists of our favourite stores, with one or two other things thrown in.

Let's start in Covent Garden, where we visited Build-a-Bear Workshop. Of course, the US has these too, but BABWS in the UK has some cute items unique to there.

Covent Garden just opened up a new Magnum ice cream shop, where you can create your own personalised ice cream bars. Unfortunately the line was super long, and honestly the prices were a bit much anyway, so we didn't bother.

Walking up from Covent Garden, past the Seven Dials, we arrived at Forbidden Planet. Being the pop culture and sci-fi nerd that I am, we always have to visit here. I ended up taking just a few photos of the things that are typical of me and the things that Jon and I like - TMNT, Disney, Star Trek and Zelda.

From Forbidden Planet we walked down Shaftesbury Avenue towards Piccadilly Circus, where we had (a rather expensive) lunch at the Rainforest Cafe - and met Cha-Cha the Frog there!

Just along from the Rainforest Cafe in Piccadilly Circus, there was a giant Nando's chicken walking around...

Piccadilly Circus leads directly into Leicester Square, where we have two more cool stores - M&M's and Nickelodeon.

The M&M's store has always been a favourite of mine, not just because of the chocolate (even though that definitely is a top reason!), but also because they always have such neat stuff - and we weren't disappointed this time, either! With the upcoming release of the new Star Wars movie, many stores are getting ready with new merchandise and promotions. Well, M&M's have jumped on that bandwagon in a really big way. They had some really awesome stuff.

After we had spent way too much money in the M&M's store, we made our way to the brand new Nickelodeon store, which had just opened a couple of months ago. The overriding theme was SpongeBob SquarePants, with some other Nick brands sporadically placed around the two-level store. The only other brand that came close to having any real presence in the store was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For those of you who know me, TMNT is my favourite cartoon/comic (and favourite characters) of all time. One thing that Nick have done really well since they bought the TMNT six years ago, is to bring a new life to them, engage fan interest again, and offer a wide variety of products, including lots of cool retro stuff. In the new Nick store there were a lot of cool TMNT t-shirts, which I hadn't seen before anywhere else, but most of the other stuff was general action figures and toys that we can buy in other places. The sad thing is that the store is really expensive - and I do mean REALLY expensive. We ended up with just a couple of t-shirts for the sake of saying we got them there, but really it was way too overpriced even if we wanted more. I think also that the store was missing out on a great opportunity to have some cool London merchandise themed around their brands, much like M&M's does, but there was very little at all.

The final place we stopped by in the West End area was a new pop-up Hard Rock Cafe store. I usually like the HRC stuff - they have some great pins and plushes usually. Unfortunately this store was about as temporary as you could get, and had very little of anything.

The next part of my London report will focus on the Disney Stores and Harrods, so stay tuned for that over the coming days!

Have a great day everyone,