Having Harry Potter withdrawal now that the books and movies are over? Can’t go to the studio tour in London any time soon? Fear not, Harry Potter fans! I am back and I come bringing gifts. :D I almost missed my bus to this tour. I am so glad all the wizards in the world conspired to not make that happen!
Prepare yourselves for some major eye candy. Some of these are the actual props, sets and costumes from the movies.
Me at 4 Privet Drive. OMG. Also, I totally planned wearing my Gryffindor-colored sweater that day.
Leavesden Studios, where all the eight films were shot. This was where all the magic was made! You can get a ticket at £28 but you have to do it in advance!
Gryffindor uniform. You can purchase all sorts of Harry Potter goodies at the store by the entrance. Don’t be surprised by the prices though! £500 for Dumbledore’s robes set - I can’t even.
Triwizard champions wand set. Yup, you can also purchase this for display purposes! Or I guess you can also use them for practicing magic.
The cupboard under the stairs.
Great Hall cutlery.
Words from the directors. David Yates directed the last four films. Mike Newell directed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Harry’s, Hermione’s, Krum’s and Cho Chang’s Yule Ball costumes!
Chocolate desserts at the Yule Ball. Check out all the pretty details. I bet most of us didn’t even notice all this in the movie!
Sirius Black character art. He’s my favorite character in the books, and I love Gary Oldman as an actor, so just imagine all the spazzing I did while watching the movies.
Templates for Harry’s scar. The scar was applied by make-up a total of around 6,000 times (on Daniel Radcliffe and all his stunt doubles).
Fleur’s costume details. I’ve always loved her hat and the color of her dress.
Got a peek of Dean, Seamus, Ron, Neville and Harry’s room.
One of my most favorite parts of the tour - getting to see everyone’s wands displayed next to each other.
I just noticed how Umbridge’s wand is shorter than everyone else’s.
Because I am Sirius-biased. I love how his and Hermione’s wands don’t have obvious handles.
The mirror of Erised, where we can see the “deepest and most desperate desire of one’s heart.” I think it didn’t work because so many people were looking at it. The mirror didn’t know which desire to show first, lol.
Harry’s and Ron’s Christmas sweaters!
Tonks and Lupin, together forever.
Dumbledore’s office entrance.
Dumbledore’s office with portraits of all the previous headmasters.
Triwizard cup. Don’t touch! You might get transported to that graveyard where Voldemort was (unless you actually want to see him).
Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem. ”Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”
Death Eater masks. They made sure that no two masks are the same. Everything is so personalized in this movie franchise!
AFRAID. And mini Voldy was moving too. :(
Dobby looks so real. RIP.
The iconic Hogwarts letter.
Ticket to Platform 9 3/4! Sadly I wasn’t able to go to King’s Cross station for the platform and the trolley disappearing into the wall. :(
What I believe is one of the best things in the whole Harry Potter movie franchise - The Marauder’s Map. It would pretty nifty if we really had something like this in real life.
Umbridge’s costume detail.
Umbridge’s office is super pink. And surprisingly adorable unlike the owner. On the walls are plates with cats on them.
There’s an outdoor section in the tour where you can buy refreshments and butterbeer! YUM. Official £5 butterbeer… that’s not even real beer. It tastes like soda with whipped cream. :)
The Knight Bus.
Diagon Alley! Obligatory Ollivander’s.
Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
And finally, the highlight of the whole studio tour. Here is the original 50-foot-wide model of Hogwarts. If you can’t spend 3 hours in this studio, you can just swiftly breeze through everything and only check this model out. It is a masterpiece. I wish I could bring it home and place it in my living room. Oh wait, it’s bigger than my living room…
Meticulously made with traditional building techniques.
You can view it in all different angles, and the light changes depending on where you are in the room where this model is found.
This is one of my favorite parts of Hogwarts… mostly because of the precious bridge scene with Harry and Lupin talking in the third movie. (Obviously, the third book is my all-time favorite.)
That’s all for my UK entries for now. It was *insert magic pun here*! I absolutely recommend this tour to anyone visiting London. Even if you’re not a Potterhead, the sheer craftsmanship for all the props, sets and costumes is enough to make your jaw drop in awe. (Just got back from Singapore and saw tons of posters of a Harry Potter exhibition in Marina Bay Sands. It’s only 3 hours away from us so I guess that’ll do for now, until you can travel to London in the future!)
If you’re like me, who grew up with the actors (I’m the same age as Rupert Grint!) and the books, there’s nothing quite like seeing everything with your own eyes instead of through a movie screen. You might even get teary-eyed during the tour, especially if you’ve been having some major withdrawal since the end of the books and movies. However, If you can’t visit this tour any time soon, the books and movies will forever be around to tickle that little wizard in you.
"No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." - Jo Rowling couldn’t have said it better!
On the day we were scheduled to go on a road trip outside London, the rain just poured like crazy (much like what we’re experiencing in Manila now), so as much as I wanted to take a lot of pictures, I had to save my camera from getting wet. Must invest in waterproof travel gear next time.
So here are the very few pictures I was able to take during that day. Sadly, taking photographs was strictly prohibited inside Windsor Castle! And It was one of my most favorite places during my UK trip! How I wish I could let you all view this historical goodness through my blog so we could all spaz together, but I guess for now this could serve as some sort of teaser to motivate you guys to pay this place a visit some time in the future.
This is called the Long Walk. It links Windsor Castle with Snow Hill in Windsor Great Park. According to legends, Snow Hill was where King Henry VIII sat and waited for news of the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn.
Windsor Castle, the home of almost 40 monarchs since as early as the 11th century. I love castles and palaces so it was such a treat to be able to visit the State Apartments. Charles II wanted to rival his cousin Louis XIV’s Versailles by making Windsor Castle home to the grandest State Apartments in England. Definitely a must see if you have some extra time and you don’t have anything else to do in Central London!
Spotted an old man playing catch with his dog in front of St. George’s Chapel.
One of the gates at Windsor Castle.
Outside the castle, I got to see the iconic Crooked House of Windsor, erected way back in 1592. Supposedly there is a secret basement with a passageway that connects to the kitchens of Windsor Castle.
Just like in the movies!
Stormy day at the town of Windsor.
Obligatory Cath Kidston! You can’t see it clearly here but the store’s curtains all have that signature floral print that we all love.
Erich von Däniken believed that alien astronauts visited the earth to help the early humans in building some of the world’s oldest, greatest monuments such as the Stonehenge, the pyramids in Egypt, etc.
This is only the Ancient Aliens geek in me presenting a theory on how this amazing prehistoric monument came to be, lol. It’s actually a little creepy and overwhelming at the same time how the early humans were able to construct this using neolithic techniques.
No proper photo of myself with the Stonehenge because the weather decided to troll me by deciding to rain Ondoy-levels for half an hour or so.
This is what I meant by the weather being such a troll. When I got to the parking lot, the skies suddenly became clear and it didn’t rain for the next half hour or so.
Next time, I promise to even do an outfit post in front of the Stonehenge!
The hills are alive~ at the Wiltshire countryside.
Greeted by the prettiest yellow flowers at the City of Bath!
Spotted a Vespa in the nicest red color! /random
Rainy afternoon at the city of Bath.
So why is Bath called Bath? Because this city was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa! In this picture, you can see the entrance to the Roman Baths. It’s a pretty cool thing how the residents of the city just pass by it everyday like it’s something so normal (I could say the same about world-famous sites found in the middle of the city, like the Coliseum in Rome or the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
Near the Roman Baths is Bath Abbey, founded in the 7th century.
It’s a church known for its fan vaulting. So pretty!
Stained glass windows.
While waiting for our ride back to London, we had afternoon tea and coffee at this super dainty Alice in Wonderland-themed cafe. Take a trip down this rabbit hole if you’ve got extra time in this town.
It’s wonderful for pictures! :)
The Pulteney Bridge, one of the four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides.
So in love with this city! Everything looks so picturesque. You can print your pictures from this place out and they can pass off as legit postcards.
'Til next time!
After my family and I finished familiarizing ourselves with London via bus tour, we decided to take it easy and go to the tourist sites that were a bit less historical/cultural, and a bit more “pop culture”.
Waiting by the bus stop wearing an outfit that seemed to match the colors of London’s streets and buildings. Brown, red and black.
When in London, try Pret a Manger. It’s a British chain that offers ready-to-eat sandwiches, etc. Absolutely perfect for people on the go, and for tourists like us who don’t have a lot of time to waste. Grab ‘n go!
I’d be happy if our street signs here in Manila could look like this one day.
Finally, BAKER STREET!
Shot from outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
You can’t miss this place if you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes. You can go inside to buy all sorts of Sherlock goodies, and take pictures of every single corner in this apartment. I can’t fully describe it with any other word but cute!
The loveliest hand-painted Sherlock Holmes chess set and figurines. Insanely pricey, but I guess Holmes fans wouldn’t mind shelling out extra pounds for something as precious as this!
The iconic (fictitious) living room! Sherlock’s and Dr. Watson’s hats were free for visitors to try on for photography’s sake, and coincidentally, my twin brothers wore outfits that matched the colors of the hats!
Warm colors and dark wood.
Flowers by Sherlock Holmes’ living room window.
Sherlock Holmes’ violin.
Dr. Watson’s things. I swear, everything in this place was so photogenic.
Even the bathroom on the top floor looked straight out of an old movie.
I have a lulzy story to share about this fake bathroom though! -
"Like the London Dungeon, there were lots of exhibits at the Holmes Museum, but it wasn’t like an amusement park so it was really boring. The building was set up and decorated as if Holmes was living there, but all you could do was have a look around. In my travel guide it said that the toilet there was a must-see, so I peed there (laugh)." - translated from L’arc~en~ciel’s hyde’s Adventures in London (1997).
Sherlock Holmes’ door.
Something I was able to randomly spot while walking in the streets. War of the Worlds!
After the Sherlock Holmes Museum, we headed to Madame Tussauds, a wax museum known for the wax versions of popular political and royal figures, celebrities, musicians, etc.
Miley and Daniel don’t look much like themselves here, but it’s interesting how they’re grouped in the same area in the museum.
Kate Winslet and Colin Firth, two amazing English actors!
Brangelina. Angie doesn’t look like herself, but it’s amazing how they even got her tattoo down pat.
Wax versions of the Beckhams. Just as flawless as the references!
My love, Johnny Depp. I quite like how he’s presented as Jack Sparrow instead of himself in this museum. You can’t see all the outfit details properly in this shot, but if you’re a fan of PotC and all the original costume designs, this figure is definitely something to spaz about.
Queen Elizabeth looks so real!
And so do Prince William (That hair… or the lack thereof) and Kate Middleton (That dress…)!
One of my personal faves from the museum: The Beatles. George Harrison looks hot and John Lennon looks squishy and adorable. Who’s your favorite Beatle?
Hey I heard you were a wild one!
This was one of the creepiest wax figures in the museum. It’s like those horror movies where they wax people alive and pass them off as statues.
The weather was suddenly cooperative after Madame Tussauds, so we took a bus tour again to be able to take proper pictures of some of the must-see tourist spots.
This is St. Paul’s Cathedral, London’s tallest building for about 200 years.
View from the front of the cathedral.
Spotted a model in summer clothes when everyone else was wearing winter/spring coats. Couldn’t imagine how she was able to survive walking around like that in the cold!
Union Jack on a cab.
I wonder if the construction in this place has already finished by now, in time for the Olympics. If anyone is particular with this area, let me know how this ended up looking like!
My messy wind hair was surprisingly normal there. Spotted a few girls who even looked like they haven’t combed their hair in a week! So ideal.
A guy playing bagpipes in front of the Tower of London.
Interesting sock detail. Found out just now that these are called “kilt hose flashes”.
Shot from a cruise that we spontaneously took just before sunset. We took the boat from the Tower Millenium Pier.
Tower Bridge, one of my favorite bridges in London!
London Bridge, of nursery rhyme fame.
Blackfriars Bridge. The north end goes to the Inns of Court and Temple Church. The south end goes to the Tate Modern and the Oxo Tower.
One of the three Cleopatra’s Needles. This is the pair of the one in New York. A separate one stands in Paris (more pictures of that in my Paris post!).
A closer photo of the London Eye, with clear skies in the background.
After the spontaneous cruise, we decided to walk around to different places before heading to West End for Les Miserables.
Pretty building details.
Such a romantic setting! Spotted a lot of couples making out and holding hands. <3
I want her shoes!
China Town! My dad was craving for Chinese food and we were all kind of missing eating rice, so we had a basic eat-all-you-can dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
Queen’s Theater. Opened in 1907!
View from inside the theater. We watched Les Misérables, one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. It was so wonderful I got teary eyed at some parts! Definitely a must-see while you’re in London. I wish I had more time to watch the other shows, but at least I got this one out of the way already. I’ll definitely make sure to watch the rest the next time I visit!
Next up: Windsor Castle, City of Bath, and Stonehenge!
Finally posting the first of my spring vacation entries! Surprisingly managed to take 16 gigabytes worth of RAW pictures every single day when I was in Europe, so it took me a while to pick the best ones out from my folders, and to try to create a proper (and coherent) entry to jumpstart my London and Paris entries off. Based on the title, yes, I am really dividing my stay in London into two parts! I also went to Windsor Castle, the city of Bath, and the Stonehenge, so expect a separate entry for those places too. So many pictures, so little time!
Here’s a photo of me and my brother Juju in front of a mirror in our hotel’s lobby. We stayed at this dainty place called Ashburn Hotel, which my family and I loved to bits. They had free wifi in all the rooms too (SURE WIN!)
The morning after we arrived, we decided to take a bus sightseeing tour to familiarize ourselves with London. Finally got to ride one of those open-topped red double decker buses! We didn’t have a strict itinerary, but we did kind of list down the places that we could go to on the dates we were there.
Took advantage of the early morning sun to take landscape photos of different landmarks. It rained during the whole duration of our trip, so I had to be extra careful not to get my camera soaked. So many people were apologizing for the weather back when I was tweeting about it. No need for apologies, really! I’d like to think it was all part of the London experience. We had “brollies” in our backpacks anyway!
The Union Jack is one of my favorite flag designs of all time.
This is the National Gallery, found in Trafalgar Square.
Established way back in 1824. I love European culture in general for this reason! Everything just seems to be so well-preserved. This is even considered one the relatively newer buildings.
You can see Big Ben from this angle.
As you can see, all my pictures from London seem darker than my usual travel photos. I don’t consider it a bad thing though! The raw photos + the post-processing is a marriage of what my image of London is and how all the movies and books describe it!
This is the Admiralty Arch, as seen from Trafalgar Square. The opposite side leads to The Mall, which leads to Buckingham Palace.
Just a pretty building, among all the pretty buildings in the city!
The iconic Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly. The Palm Court inside the Ritz were once frequented by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, and the Queen Elizabeth herself.
We didn’t eat here, but I just found it so cute that a restaurant was named after William Shakespeare. Well, why not? He’s known as the greatest writer in the English language!
St. James Court! Legit old English typography right there.
It started to rain before noon, so I snapped all the pictures I could before it got worse! Here’s the London Eye, the tallest ferris wheel in all of Europe, as well as one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.
I wish we had time to take a ride on it. I’ll definitely make time for it the next time I visit London!
St. Paul’s Cathedral from afar.
This is such a magical picture of the Big Ben. The rain was getting out of hand, so my family and I decided to halt our bus tour for a while to grab something to eat. The clock turned 12 as soon as we got out of the bus. Perfect timing!
When in London, eat fish and chips.
Silly Sherlock and Watson fans left comments on the restaurant’s guestbook. Sherlock Holmes’ comment: “Not up to par. Awful.” John Watson’s comment: “Very nice. Don’t listen to him.”
Now, did you just read that with Robert Downey Jr.’s and Jude Law’s voices? (Edit: Or Benedict Cumberbatch’s and Martin Freeman’s?)
There’s a heart. Aww.
Sorry for the reflection - I started taking pictures from the first deck of the next bus we hopped on. This street needs no introduction. Sweeney Todd!
The iconic red telephone box.
The Tower of London was founded in 1066. It played a crucial role in English history as it served different purposes, including being an armory, a prison, as well as the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Just a cute dog that kept on snuggling my shoe.
One of the sentries guarding the place. The Queen’s Guard are situated in all of the royal residences in London.
My brothers taking pictures and listening to the audio guide in the middle of bad weather.
It’s a little hard to imagine how I managed to take all these pictures while doing so many things at once - holding my camera, umbrella, bag, etc., walking in the rain, listening to the audio guide, fighting the wind, and just pretty much trying to survive this whole thing by forcing my tourist level to increase to level 99.
What some Tower of London prisoners wrote on the walls of their cells.
Sadly, I couldn’t take proper pictures of the place where the “Princes of the Tower” were confined, but their story was one of my favorites from all the Tower of London events.
Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, were the “Princes of the Tower”. They disappeared in 1483, but their bones were supposedly discovered in 1674. People believed they were murdered, but until now, nobody has really proven what happened. There are, however, suspects and evidences that lead to their murder, making the princes’ story such an interesting mystery topic for fiction and non-fiction writers.
Too pretty! As a kid, I loved reading about castles and princesses. As I grew older, I found myself totally falling in love with all things medieval - video games and movies that involved knights and whatnot turned out to be favorites.
Don’t these pictures remind you so much of Final Fantasy Tactics? Or King Arthur?
Took a picture of this for all my geeky graphic designer friends to see. Lovely logos.
The Line of Kings, on display in the New Armouries of the Tower. It’s a 17th century gallery displaying wooden versions of horses that different monarchs used.
A 16th century double-barrelled wheellock pistol.
This 14th century basinet weighs 7 pounds. It’s like you constantly have a baby on your head.
People are free to put their faces in and try to see through the thin slits for the eyes. I tried it and it was so difficult to see anything! But then again, I guess people back then also had to protect their eyes from being gouged out.
The Tower of London and part of the Tower Bridge in the background!
This is one of the Victoria Embankment dragons. The two mark the boundary between the City of London and the City of Westminster.
This is how the London subway looks like! Or at least one of the stations. I loved how it was all decorated with not only product advertisements but also music, museum and art exhibit advertisements.
It’s really weird - some people warned me about the weather being erratic all the time, the subway being messy and expensive, or the food not being that great (I guess they were comparing it to French or Italian cuisine?), but IDK, London was such a charming place for me. Although I do admit that my love for English accents should be partly blamed for this feeling. G’day! Fancy a cuppa tea? Or crumpets? Seriously, I could listen to an English accent the whole day.
Part 2 of my London pictures to follow soon. I wanna go back!