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Thursday, August 15, 2013

UK Trip Part 2: Harry Potter, Yoga and ...bugers

Uggghhh...obviously I did not intend to go this long before my next trip post, but things just got out of hand. It has been a crazy couple of weeks since we returned to the US, in a lot of ways. As I should have expected, work pretty much blew up on me and a couple of decisions that were made in my absence have had disastrous consequences. DISASTROUS. Not like, world ending disastrous...just...very time consuming for myself and others. Yesterday at 9am I was literally quintuple booked with meetings.

Now I know why Hermione needed that time turner.


If you guessed the WB Harry Potter movie studio tour YOU ARE CORRECT SIR.

As you may or may not be aware, I really, really love Harry Potter. Like, have read all of the books multiple times and analyzed them at length with friends, re-watch the films regularly, own a wand and have a mini-Hagrid on my desk at work. Two years ago, Ben and I took a road trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and as soon as I heard about the studio tour opening near London I immediately added it to my bucket list.

We woke up bright and early, had breakfast at the hotel, and caught a train to Watford. From there we hopped on a bus to the studio for our 10am tour. Obviously, I was excited.

The face only HP can inspire
One of the first things I saw, outside before the tour even started, was a display of the giant chess pieces used in the first film! They are actually huge and look SUPER COOL even out of context.

The first stop on the actual tour was the Hogwarts entrance and the great hall! I took SO many pictures on the tour, so I tried to include only my favorite shots. I'll stop yammering now and let the photos speak for themselves but if you're an HP fan I'm sure you'll appreciate a lot of these :)

Fake McGonagall and Dumbledore

The Fat Lady! (Early version)

McGonagall's portrait in Gryffindor Common of those things
I never noticed in the films but now that I know it's there,
I'll be looking for it ;)


Umbridge's office at the Ministry of Magic...this might have actually been my favorite set

THE BRIDGE!! This was the set piece I was probably most excited for.
So many meaningful conversations happened on that bridge...le sigh


Diagon Alley, obviously


THIS was maybe the coolest thing I have ever seen. This model of Hogwarts was used for pretty much all exterior shots of the castle. And it is HUUUUGE. 50 feet across!!!

Hogwarts at night

The tour was so cool. Where the theme park in Orlando aims to make you feel like you've turned the corner and stepped into the magical world of Harry Potter (at least, as much as you can in 90-degree weather surrounded by other tourists), the studio tour is really about the magic of filmmaking. There is intention behind every set piece, every prop and every detail which is partly why the world comes alive on film. Nothing is by accident, and nothing is filler or random. Even the book covers and papers are actually written out (and very clever if you read the fine print). The OWL exams even had actual questions! I just loved seeing how much love went into making the HP movies, and the next time I watch them it will be with different eyes.

After the tour, we bussed/trained it back to London (a few dollars poorer, but having gained a scarf, two keychains and a small poster advertising the Quidditch World Cup). Back at the hotel we changed, relaxed for a bit and then hopped on the underground to catch an evening yoga class.

I surveyed the Asana Junkies FB group for studio suggestions in London and couple of people mentioned TriYoga. I signed up for a 6pm class with Aki Omori, and as soon as she pulled a life-size plastic skeleton out of the corner and started talking about the SI joint I knew I had come to the right place!


After class we walked to Soho and wandered around looking for a good place to eat. It was one of those nights where I was so hungry that I didn't really have any specific cravings, but I was pretty sure that I'd know what I wanted when I saw it. Apparently what I wanted was greasy fried things and a milkshake. And some Elvis lovin'.


Suddenly feeling the need to watch Lilo and Stitch again
The Breakfast Club was a great find - one of our favorite dinners from the trip! Partly because we found it on our own just by wandering, and partly because the food/shakes were delightful. I had a veggie burger with fries, and Ben had a fish sandwich. After stuffing our faces, we went book browsing!

All the books!
And then, we took a small detour. If you recognize this building and if you understand why I am standing in front of it making a sad face, you are now my best friend. If you do NOT recognize this building, you need to watch the entire series of SHERLOCK immediately.
Just do it.
Do it for the children.

Womp womp
Well that's all I have the energy to write at the moment. Back with more soon! I get to work from home tomorrow, so that's exciting. 

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