Well ladies and gentlemen, today was my day. The first day of full on Harry Potter site seeing! I'll mostly stick to the Harry Potter info and keep the photos coming...
The day-trip we took was one organised by British Tours, and let me tell you, it was worth it! Unfortunately, I don't think I made a very good first impression with our guide. While my parents waited for him in the hotel foyer, I ran across the road to buy something. When I came back, I noticed my dad talking to this mad-professor type guy, and my first thought was, "I can't believe my dad actually knows someone in this country!" (My dad seems knows everyone everywhere we go...). Not knowing this man was there for me, I barely introduced myself. Then felt like an idiot when he led us off to his car...
Anyway, no damage done, and the first stop was to see where 'Diagon Alley' can be found. It's this tiny little back street that looks a lot like a market place, and surprisingly, is just a few blocks away from the hotel we were staying at. It obviously doesn't look like the same place now, but it does have that cramped and 'looks like it was built by magic' feel. I even got to see the door of one of the 'shops' Harry and Hermione come out of.
Next was a visit to King's Cross Station. It was here that we discovered the tour guide was a man in a hurry. There was no strolling along, or even brisk walking with him. I had to run to keep up with him, incase I missed any commentary. Most of the pictures my dad took today show Tour Guide and my backs, running off into the sunset. Never let it be said Harry Potter doesn't keep you fit...
King's Cross Station is really beautiful and rather imposing from the outside, with a very regal looking clock.
But, it is just a train station, so it's not really all that exciting on the inside. I got to see the platforms that were used for the film - platforms 4 and 5, if you didn't know (I didn't!):
and then it was off to see the Real Platform 9 3/4 (Oh my, this was so
...and that was it, we were rushing off again. Don't think I'm weird, but I was really impressed with KCS, it was just like I thought it would be. And I nearly got to hop on the Hogwarts Express.
We had to get to Oxford before lunch, and the drive took a while. It's unfortunate, but I was really starting to fall asleep since there wasn't much interesting during the trip. I did, however, manage to see (as we were whizzing past) the British Library, Madam Tussauds, the Hoover Building and Chilton Hills, where a lot of great furniture is made. Now please, tell me you would have been riveted by this...
Just before we got there, we drove to a house where a really strange prank had taken place many years before...
... that's right. It's a plaster shark. In the roof. That has been left there for quite some time, as a 'memorial'. There are some weird people around there, I can tell.
When we got to Oxford, it was really gorgeous. Well, that really isn't a good enough word, but it kind of leaves you speechless. I didn't realise that the University was actually a whole little town. There are people living virtually right next to the colleges, and the other remarkable thing is that nearly the whole place is pedestrianised. Unfortunately, we couldn't get into Christ Church where the HP scenes were shot, since it was Sunday and they were having a normal church session, but we did see the College that Bill and Chelsea Clinton both attended, and Merton College, which JRR Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, went to:
If I can remember correctly (and remember, I was tired), Tony Blair was also a student of Oxford. Also saw The Eagle and Child Pub, nicknamed The Bird and Baby (so different to the original name), which had frequent visits from many English writers, including Tolkien. I think he did more pub-crawling that studying.
Some other views of Oxford:
I won't say what I was supposed to see at Oxford yet, because we did go back later in the afternoon, then you'll see some great pictures!
So then we were scurrying off to get to Gloucester, before lunch again. Another wild and exciting drive. With no radio or open windows.
At Gloucester Cathedral, the next HP destination, I saw:
- The Cloisters (corridors) that you often see Harry and co. walking down. They are truly spectacular and you can't begin to imagine how high they go. The window panes in the walls, most of which are really colourfully decorated, are so old that they're warped and bent out:
- The place where Harry and Ron hid from the troll in the first film (did some sneaky hiding myself):
- And the interior of the Cathedral. It was really interesting to see the place where the bishop sits and the incredible stained glass windows, but I won't include all that here, just this picture:
Finally, it was time for lunch. We had the choice of going to the Bird's Hip pub, but ended up at the Golden Heart pub. Here we had really delicious food - lamb and veggies... okay bla bla bla. Let's get back to the trip.
We had to go back to Oxford after Gloucester, in order to see the staircase where McGonagall greets the First Years, and the Great Hall. So once we got there, we parked a day's worth of walking away from the Church (remember, only pedestrians are allowed on the streets), and started to run after Mr Tour Guide. And it was totally worth it when we got there. This church is just beautiful, with lovely gardens and the ivy growing on the walls. It seems unreal that it can be so perfect:
I would go back to this place just to sit in the garden and look at it. Inside, we found the staircase:
It was so eerie being there, because I recognised the place from the films, but it was hard to believe I was actually standing there.
Then next up, we have the Great Hall. Standing inside it, the place felt tiny, but this is the actual room used for Hogwart's Great Hall. It's still used by the kids that attend school there - the film crew was actually hoofed out when it came time for the students to have their meals. Bet that really impressed them! Here it is:
Look carefully, and you'll see that there's only enough room for three rows of tables, not four, but thanks to the magic of movies (or maybe Harry Potter), this will be the Great Hall...
And so, that was my Harry Potter Tour Day. It was really fantastic to see all the different locations and I would definitely recommend the tour to anyone who is interested in the HP films!
MOST FASHIONABLE FASHION IN UK TODAY:
- Peasant skirt
- Jeans with chunky belt
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TOURISTY THINGS BOUGHT TODAY: