Cooking Class

Hi all! Sorry for the radio silence! With Thanksgiving break and all, I just really wanted to spend some quality time with friends and family! But, I’m back now.

After we got back from London, classes resumed as normal. We spent some time enjoying the lovely weather in Dungarvan.

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We also got to see a dance performance put on by some of the dance majors who were traveling with us on our studio abroad! They all did such an amazing job, and it was really nice to get to see all their hard-work over the course of the semester pay off!

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An after-performance picture with our favorite ballerina, Sara!

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Dungarvan Harbor by night!

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And some of the best Indian food I’ve ever at had a great local place!

A couple of days later, we learned that he lovely faculty planned a very nice surprise for us: We got to attend a cooking class at the Tannery Cookery School in Dungarvan with the fantastic chef, Paul Flynn!

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This was a really exciting opportunity for us! The Tannery is a very nice restaurant, one most of us couldn’t afford to eat out because we’re all poor college kids, so it was a really nice chance to get to go in and sample some of Chef Flynn’s food!

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There’s the talented Chef Flynn!

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For the first part of our lesson, he went over a really light and easy to make chowder. He’s whole philosophy on cooking is that is should be inexpensive, healthy, and yet still delicious. I think he really lived up to that philosophy with all the foods we got to try!

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While the chowder was preparing, we got a quick lesson on beer from the local brewery in town, The Dungarvan Brewing Company!

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I’m not much of a beer drinker, but it was still interesting to get to try all the different beers and learn what to detect in all their different flavors. There was a pale ale that I actually really liked, which was very surprising!

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Check out that wicked side-eye. Not sure who, or what, I was looking at but it is now a documented photo.

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There’s a much better picture of me! Also, featuring one of my professor’s, Mr. Mills, who we loving called Grandpa Art, and our very own Nanny McPhee, the lovely, and ultimately too stylish, Gerty Murphy!

After our beer lesson and tasting, Chef Flynn had finished the chowder, and prepared a lovely fresh garden salad for us. We all started eating the chowder and the salad, while he began work on a very healthy quiche.

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The quiche is featured here! It was really very tasty!

He also whipped up some very excellent, and again healthy, chocolate fudge for us to eat as desert! We were given some time to wander around the school, where i noticed that he had some cook books available to buy, so I bought two and had him sign them! I gave one to my sister who is now living on her own, and can’t really cook yet, and kept one for me!

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We all had a really great time meeting Chef Flynn and getting to eat his delicious creations! Stay tuned to hear all about our trip out sailing on the Black Water River!

London Day 4: Lambeth Palace, Tattoos, and Phantom of the Opera

You can read about the start of our fourth and final day in London here.

Where we left off, we had just had coffee at the the cutest (and most hipsterish) cafe ever, called 2 Love. We had some good coffee, and I had a really good smoothie. We were basically at a loss of what to do with the rest of our day. We decided to just keep hiking in the direction we were going and see if anything turned up that seemed interesting.

We eventually cross a few streets and end up in an area of London that we didn’t really know where we were. We decided to check the map, and saw that Lambeth Palace was very close to where we were standing. We didn’t know much about the palace, and had nothing else to do, so we decided to check it out.

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Unfortunately for us, they weren’t doing tours of the inside that day. However, because it was such a perfect and lovely spring day, they were having a flower show in the gardens behind the palace. We paid a few pounds and decided to check it out.

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Below, you will see an assortment of pictures that prove I can never take a serious picture (this seems to be a recurring trend, I know)! Enjoy!

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Finally, a good one!

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Alighting down the stairs, like the princess I am!

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They had numerous tents and vendors all selling different types of flowers, plants, and shrubs. We just looked at all the vendors, but didn’t buy anything since we had no way of getting it back to Ireland. There were sooo many beautiful flowers there. They also had a tent set up with snacks and coffee and tea. Inside there was a kids area where you could make a bag.

Naturally, we three grown women sat down to make bags. They were actually really cool! You pounded real flowers onto the bags with hammers so the flowers natural pigment would dye the bag. It was a very unique idea, and the three of us had fun making them!

After we were done making our bags, we kept wandering the gardens. It was such a nice day, and the gardens were so pretty!

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That was my travel buddy, Sara. I’m not just taking pictures of random people!

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We finished in the gardens and headed off on out merry way. I would have loved a chance to go in and tour Lambeth Palace itself, but getting to explore the gardens, and on such a prefect day, was well worth it!

After we left Lambeth, we were a little stumped as to what to do next. So, we did what all people do on an afternoon when they have nothing else to do: we hit the pub!

We ended up exploring the Leicester Square area for a while. It’s a cool spot, very modern for London. It was full of shops, restaurants, movie theaters, your basic downtown area. We wandered a bit, debated about seeing a movie, then settled a pub for a drink or two.

We ended up at The Porcupine for a few drinks, before Heather, another travel buddy,  Heather, gets it into her mind that she wants to get a tattoo while we’re in London. My friend Kelsey and I both got one while we were in Dublin, which you can read about here, and Heather felt like she missed out.

She began searching for tattoo places and I graciously agreed to go with her. Somehow, still not sure, she convinced me to get one with her (I have never thought about anything less in my life, and now it’s permanently embedded in my skin).

We ended up at Tattoo 13 and got tattoos! Heather got some books on her ribs, and I got an unalome in my cleavage.

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After we were done getting tattoos, we raced back to the hostel because it was time to go see Phantom of the Opera! Unfortunately, our tattoos took longer than we thought they were going to and we arrived at the theatre late. We were in Her Majesty’s Theatre and it was lovely. We were in the nose-bleed seats, but when the Phantom was lurking around the top, and when he dropped the chandelier, it happened right in front of us!

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The dropped chandelier. I got yelled at by an usher for taking this picture, but it was totally worth it!

As we were walking back towards Trafalgar Square, we noticed a pretty fountain and stopped to take a few pictures!

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If you look really close, you can see the bandage on my chest from my tattoo.

We got back to the hostel and packed up all our stuff. We were flying out bright and early. Sara and I went down to the bar inside the hostel really quick for one last drink, and then we all went to bed pretty early.

We got up early, checked out, got on the tube, then a train, then made it to the airport. I was a little afraid that they were going to pull me over because of the bandage on my chest, but I had no issues. We got on our flight and made it make to Dungarvan before dark.

I had the best time in London! It really is a phenomenal city! I can’t wait until I make it back. There is just soooo much to see and do that the few days we were there didn’t quite cut it.

Stay tuned to see what I get up to next!

London Day 4: Westminster Abbey and London Eye

You can read about our third day in London here and here.

Our fourth and last day in London began bright and early, as always. We decided we were going to start the day off at Westminster Abbey since we didn’t get the time to go in the last time we were up in that area.

I was really excited to see Westminster Abbey because there are sooo many cool people buried there: Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and so many more people that I’ve read and learned about. I was sooo excited to go and see their graves. My older sister had gone when she studied at Cambridge, and told me I absolutely had to go when I was in London.

We got a late start leaving the hostel, and got held up on the tube. It was fairly late in the day by the time we actually got over to Westminster Abbey. We debated about what we wanted to do, since there was a very long line. We thought about leaving someone in line while the rest went to find some breakfast, but we didn’t want to split up.

We decided that by the time we made it through the line we wouldn’t have enough time to see the Abbey well enough to make it worth it. We decided to skip it and find somewhere for everyone to get breakfast.

I was pretty upset that we didn’t make it into the Abbey, but you know, things happen. Now, I have a reason to go back to London again. We continued out hike and things were pretty packed, with areas being blocked off, as they were gearing up for the London Marathon.

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Traditional phone booth photo!

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We found a cute cafe, called Caffe Concerto in Whitehall, and popped in for a really good brunch. I loved the 20’s-ish decor. It was fun to actually have a “tea” which is so very British.

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After brunch, we were quite sure what we wanted to do. We had planned on doing Westminster Abbey for most of the day. We started wandering around the area and spotted the London Eye in the distance.

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We crossed a bridge and ended up in Southbank. There was a festival or something going on and the area was full of food and bounce houses. It was a fun atmosphere. There were a lot of street performers and we stopped to watch a few acts.

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We hiked down Southbank, and debated about stopping in at the aquarium there, but it was pretty pricey. We saw Big Ben and Parliament and stopped for some photos.

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We stopped at a cute little hispter coffee stand, 2 Love, and got delicious coffees. I got a really good smoothie!

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We sat for a while, and enjoyed the views, before packing up and continuing our walk. We weren’t quite sure where we were headed. We decided to just wander and see where we ended up. We had no other plans for the day, besides tickets to see the Phantom of the Opera later in the evening, so our whole day was free.

Stay tuned to see what we did end up doing with the rest of our day!

London Day 3: Big Ben and The Tower of London

You can read about the start of our third day in London, where we explore St James Park and Buckingham Palace here.

And now, I’m going to follow that with a plea: please follow this blog! It’s for a class in college and it needs more followers! Thanks ahead of time!

So, once we were done messing around at the Wellington Barracks, we hopped back on the tube and ended up at Westminster Abbey and Big Ben! Again, I feel like these are some classically British sites and was so excited to see them! We debated about getting in line to tour Westminster Abbey, but the lines were long and it was closing soon.

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So, we decided to hike over to Big Ben instead and get some pictures with it!

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Since I can’t ever take a serious picture!

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Selfie with Big Ben!

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Nailed the cliche “leaning on Big Ben” picture! 

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We crossed the Parliament Square Garden to this line of statues we saw on our way over to Big Ben. There were son many historical people lined  up in this row of statues! It was cool to see the likenesses of so many famous people!

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There was a statue for Winston Churchill

 

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And one for Abraham Lincoln!

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There was a statue of Mahatma Gandhi! I had never seen a Gandhi statue before, so it was a really cool one to see in this row of statues!

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There was also Nelson Mandela!

We then decided it was time for lunch. We found a nice little pub, The Westminster Arms, for some food and a pint or two!

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I had my first taste of fish and chips! I also had Pims for the first time while we were there! They were both delicious!

After we were done with lunch, we decided to hop the tube over to the Tower of London! I was so excited to see the Tower because so many old British monarchs had been housed before their coronations (or, you know, their deaths) in the Tower that it is just chock full of history! I was so excited to see it!

Unfortunately for us, it had started to rain! We spent the rest of the day absolutely soaked to the skin!

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That’s London Bridge in the background!

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It’s the infamous Traitor’s Gate! They used to bring the “traitors’ in through this gate! It was something I had read about and I was soooo excited to see it in person!

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The first building we went into had to do with all types of torture! It went through the history of torture in the Tower. Sometimes it got a little gruesome, but it was set up really cool!

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What was cool about this display was that they had clear etched glass with the shapes of people inside the torture devices. It was interesting to see them actually being “used.”

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This is the White Tower!

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This is the Jewel House! It’s where they keep some of the crown jewels!

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It started with a video about the monarchy and the jewels, before going down a hallway with some of the monarchs of England.

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Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the actual crown jewels, but I can assure you that they were stunning!

We left the Jewel House and set off towards The White Tower and the old Roman Wall!

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That’s the staircase they found the two bodies under.

We then went into probably my favorite room in the White Tower. It was filled to the brim with the armor worn by actual historical people! Like I saw the armor that Henry VIII wore! How cool is that?

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How freaking cool, right?

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The next room of the White Tower was filled with all types of historical weapons and the like. Again, it was very cool to see that much history collected in one place!

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There was also this really cool dragon up there (don’t know why it was there, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it was really cool!)!

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After we left the White Tower, we climbed up into St Thomas’s Tower! It still had that medieval vibe, so I really liked it. Plus, we got to climb out onto the wall of the Tower of London, onto the battlements, and that was really cool!

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We had some good views of London Bridge on the way!

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We then moved from the bedroom area, into a beautiful little chapel! It had some really pretty stained glass!

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We left the tower, and were back out on the battlements. There was a really good view of London Bridge, so we stopped to snap some pictures!

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At this point, the Tower of London was closing, so we were shooed out by some friendly worker bees, and went on our merry way. Since we still had some daylight hours, we decided to head down to Molly Bakes for some delicious looking freakshakes!

After we found our way to Molly Bakes, we were not disappointed in the least! It was totally worth the tube ride and walk for that freakshake!

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Since the night was still young at this point, we decided to head back towards the hostel and find a place for a drink or two. Since I’m a huge Jack the Ripper nut (read about that here) I suggested the Ten Bells Pub! This is the pub all the hookers hung out in before Jack the Ripper killed them.

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I was sooo freaking excited to get a drink there! We had a few drinks before deciding we needed dinner. We found a cute little Mexican place, called Lupita, and settled down for a quick and tasty dinner!

When we finished dinner, we headed back to the hostel and all fell right into bed! Stay tuned for our forth, and final, day in London!

London Day 3: St. James Park and Buckingham Palace

You can read about our first day in London here and our second day here. You can relive our Harry Potter adventure here, here, and here!

So, our third day in London began quite early than we all expected when the roommates from hell got back at about 2 a.m. from a night out. They were not quiet, as they were getting in and getting ready for bed. That part didn’t bother me as much as when one got up to start puking in the middle of the night. He ended up tripping over my bad, spilling all my stuff, and breaking the lens cap for my camera. He then proceeded to puke in the bathroom for a really long time, rather loudly (They were terrible roommates). At some point, he stopped being sick and went to bed.

We eventually woke up and got ready for the day, QUIETLY, and left to head off on another London adventure. We had a ridiculously busy day planned, so immediately after breakfast, we set off for Buckingham Palace.

I was sooo excited to see Buckingham Palace, mostly because I was hoping to get a glance of the Queen’s corgis! Just kidding (but not really!)! I love all castles and I feel that Buckingham is just so London-y that we had to go and see it for ourselves. However, because it was the Queen’s birthday that weekend, it was packed! But more on that later!

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We got off the tube in Trafalgar Square (not realizing there was a closer tube stop) and walked from there. I loved that we accidentally got to see Trafalgar Square.

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That’s Nelson’s Column!

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We set off down The Mall with the aim being finding Buckingham Palace. img_3585

They had The Mall all decorated for the Queen’s Birthday festivities!

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We ended up getting waylaid at the Horse Guards Parade! This was really cool. We got to see them all dressed up in their uniforms and on their horses! It was a very cool experience!

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That’s the Old Admiralty Building behind them!

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We then crossed the street to look at the Guard’s Memorial! It was made in memory of Guardsmen who died in World War I. img_3595

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It was a beautiful monument, and moving to look at. Since we’ve been staying in Ireland, we all feel a real affinity for the Irish, so it was nice to see them represented on the memorial.

Since we were this close to St. Jame’s Park, we decided to cut across it and head over to Buckingham Palace that way. Since it was finally getting to be spring, the Park was lovely! There were all types of flowers blooming and wildlife out!

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That’s Duck Island Cottage (and my future home!)!

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Yes, St. James Park has pelicans!

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Buckingham Palace!

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That’s the Victoria Monument

We emerged from the beautiful St. James Park to see the beautiful Buckingham Palace. The area was absolutely packed full of people. We decided this was due to it being the Queen’s Birthday! I mean, how cool for us to be there for the Queen’s birthday! It made our trip that much more special (I bought a happy birthday postcard with the Queen on it to commemorate!)!

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We decided the crowds were too crazy to attempt to get any closer, so we snapped a few pics from where we were at and called it good enough. We fought our way back out of the crowd and onto the road. We debated what to do next when we spotted the Guards Toy Soldier Centre and decided to pop in and check it out!

It was actually very cool. It was all miniatures, some set up in big displays and some out for purchasing! The owner was very cool too! He knew a lot about miniatures and was so chatty and sweet. He told us to go around behind the building because the guards would be going by soon! We had literally the best view ever thanks to him!

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We had such a good view of their ceremony! We owed the owner after that, so we all went in and bought some postcards (that’s where I got my happy birthday one!)!

Since the Guards Toy Soldier Centre was so close to Wellington Barracks and the Guards Museum, we decided to play with some of the stuff they had out front!

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I’ll leave you with that lovely image! Stay tuned for the rest of London Day 3!

Harry Potter Studios Tour: Part 3

You can read parts one and two of my on-going Harry Potter Studios Tour here and here.

As with both of last two posts regarding the Harry Potter Studios Tour: there will be lost of pictures, and spoilers, so read ahead at your own peril!

After we were done taking pictures in the flying car, the tour moved back inside where got to see how they made the different creatures that were used in the movies!

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It also included some prosthetic worn by the cast, as well as the process that went into making those prosthetics!

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It’s Fawkes, the phoenix!

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It’s Kreature!

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The next room housed all the body doubles for the cast. It was a little eerie since they are very life like.

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The room also had the pieces that cast members wore to turn them into other things. In the picture below, you can see the Dementor costume pieces and the dragon head!

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They had screens set up around the room with videos playing that explained some of the mechanics that went into making some of the “magical” aspects work. This video was showing how they made the Mandrakes in movie 2.

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Poor Doby!

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One of the really cool things that we learned on the tour was that Hagrid was made large through special effects. They made a mechanical mask of Robbie Coltrane’s, the actor who played Hagrid, face and mechanized it to move. They then had Coltrane do all the voice acting for the role, then found a large man to wear the mechanical Hagrid mask, and be the body of Hagrid while Coltrane did the voice. It was so cool to learn that. I always assumed it was a CGI effect, so to learn how they actually did it was very special!

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They actually had this Hagrid head moving, which was a little freaky!

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it’s Voldemort! They actually had it wiggling and blinking, which was super creepy!

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Many of the things in this room would move, showing you the mechanics that made them work. I thought this would ruin some of the movie magic, but it really didn’t. I have so much more appreciation for the effort and meticulous detail that went into making this film series!

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It’s baby Fawkes!

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The next room housed some of the really big animals from the movie! The spider about gave me a stroke!

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It’s BuckBeak. They actually had him still working, so he would move his head, his wings, his beak, and blink. It was so cool to see him “living” and moving like that!

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After you were done in the room with all the mechanics, you got back to set pieces. The next room housed all the set pieces for Diagon Alley and it was magical!

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Me in Diagon Alley (and I’m not sure who that kid in the picture is?)!

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It’s Fred and George’s store! They had the arm on the top still moving the hat! It was magical!

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After exploring Diagon Alley, you get to see the sketches of the movies before filming started. These mostly included the layout of rooms and buildings, and some of the conceptual pieces from the movies!

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It’s the concept for Hogsmeade! 

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It’s the Hogwarts Express concept art!

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It’s Hogwarts!

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So, this room ended with a hallway that took a really sharp turn. As you come around the hallway, the room opens up and there in the middle is…

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freaking Hogwarts! And I burst into tears again! It was amazing to see the real life Hogwarts just there before me. And they were playing songs from the movies and I just cried (still not ashamed to admit it!)! This model is actually a scale model and the one they used to film all exterior shots of the castle!

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They had the lights change in the room, from a daylight yellow, to a night-time blue. When the lights in the room got dark, lights in the castle turned on! It was incredible to see!

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They had the castle on a platform in the middle with a descending ramp around it so you could see it from all angles!

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If they had had benches in that room, I probably would have just sat there watching the castle, and listening to the music (and crying) until they kicked me out! It was something so special to see! It’s probably the highlight of my whole trip to London!

After you leave the room with the Hogwarts model, you come into a room filled with wand boxes. It was actually about three rooms. On each wand box is the name of a cast or crew member who worked in any of the movies!

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It was the perfect way to end the tour. It reminds you of the scale and scope of these movies, and of all the people who put their blood, sweat, and tears into them to bring them to the screen. As you exit the room with all the wand boxes, there was a quote by J.K. Rowling that perfectly summed up the whole day!

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Once we finished our tour, and I stopped crying, we headed to the gift-shop. This is, I think, the biggest gift-shop I have ever seen. There was so much packed in there. I spent way more money than I should have, and I’m not upset about it!

Once we were done spending three small fortunes in the gift-shop, we hopped the shuttle bus (we found it this time) to the train station, hopped the train to the tube station, rode the tube back to our hostel, and all immediately fell into bed. The roommates from hell were there at this point, but that’s a story for another day. Stay tuned!

 

Harry Potter Studios Tour: Part 2

You can read about our Harry Potter Studios Tour: Part 1 here.

I’m going to preface this post the same way I prefaced the last: there will be lots of pictures, and spoilers, so be patient!

So, where we left off, we were busy exploring the Warner Brother’s Studios Harry Potter Studios Tour. This was an amazing experience since I love Harry Potter so much. After we were done looking at the doors to Hogwarts, we moved over to the section of the tour where they showed how they filmed some of their green screen scenes.

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It showed how they filmed the Quidditch scenes, the flying motorcycle, and many more scenes like that.

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At this point, the tour became kind of interactive. You had the option to take a “flight” over London and Hogwarts. They put you in a room, hooked you up onto a broom in front of a green screen, with a fan to make it seem like your clothes and hair were moving in the wind, and filmed you “flying.” They then took a couple of pictures of you on the broom and photo-shopped Hogwarts, the Quidditch pitch, or the Dark Mark behind you (we all ended up buying copies of our pictures because we’re those nerds)! It was so fun to get to experience what the cast experienced when they were filming!

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Next, we moved to the set of the Burrow, home of the Weasley clan!

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Next, we went to the Malfoy’s mansion, where they had the scene where all the Death Eater’s are gathered around the table. It was cool to see a scene from the movie set up like that.

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Next we saw some of the set pieces from the Ministry of Magic! They fireplaces were so cool to see!

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The Black family tree!

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Next, we saw some of the set pieces from Borgin and Burke, from Nocturn Alley!

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The Vanishing Cabinet! 

Next, we got to see Professor Umbridge’s office and some of her costume pieces.

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After this hallway, you suddenly turn the corner and there is the Hogwarts Express! I about peed myself!

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You actually get to go onto the Hogwarts Express itself, so naturally, we hopped right in line to go on the train!

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We then stopped at the food court area, for a snack and a quick glass of ButterBeer!

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The ButterBeer was actually really good. They made it differently than the Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Florida. In Florida, their’s is more of an icy drink, where as the one in London at the Harry Potter Studios Tour was more of a fizzy drink. They’re both really good though, so I can’t complain!

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At this point, the tour moved outside. They kept the bigger set pieces outside, like the night bus and the outside of Number 4 Pivot Drive!

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On the Night Bus!

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Inside the Night Bus!

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Knocking on the door of Number 4 Pivot Drive!

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The Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow!

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Thanks, Heather!

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They had the flying motorcycle and the flying car outside for people to get pictures with, so we naturally grabbed whichever poor human walked into our vicinity next, and had them take too many pictures of us goofing around on those set pieces!

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They also had more of the chess pieces from the first movie outside!

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Since that was a lot of pictures, I’ll end it there. There will be one more installment of Harry Potter pictures, so bear with me!!!