Harry Potter Studios Tour: Part 1

So, you can read about the first part of our second day in London, when we explored the Globe Theater, here.

Warning now: this post contains lots of pictures! Be patient; they may load slow but they are totally worth it!

After we were finished with our Starbucks, we hopped the tube to the train station, and then took the train to the end of the track. Now see, in the morning, before we left for the day, we asked the front desk staff how to get to the Warner Brother’s Studio for our Harry Potter Studios Tour. Now, we were at the train station, and apparently all three of us remembered the directions differently (I actually had it right, for once!). We ended up making it to the end of the line, only to discover we were in the complete wrong place. There should have been shuttle buses covered in Harry Potter’s face, which we didn’t see. We asked a lovely worker at the little convenience shop next door, and he told us we screwed up majorly (only nicer and britishly). He was nice enough to call us a cab, since that was cheaper than taking the train back, getting on a new train, and then coming back.

It was fun to get to ride in a British cab. The back has four seats, two on each side that face each other. It was a different experience. Plus, our driver was Scottish and had a magnificent red beard (I’m a sucker for good beards, just sayin!)

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We did make it there eventually! And it was at this point that I started squealing like a small child on Christmas morning!

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So, we got our tickets, and headed into the lobby, where the childish squealing continued (There was a lot of squealing, just FYI!)!

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In the lobby, they have huge pictures of all the cast surrounding the ceiling!

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Then, we joined the line to head into the actual tour part. We didn’t have to wait that long. They do a good job of funneling people in.

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As you wait to go in, they have the cupboard under the stairs there for you to see!

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So here is your little spoiler alert warning: The next parts are going to get in depth about the tour itself. If you don’t want it spoiled for you, skip this post. You’ve been warned.

So, it was our turn to enter the tour portion. They put your tour group into a room filled with screens and play a little welcome video with info about the movies and casts. A door opens and you file into an auditorium with another screen. You sit, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione (aka Dan, Rupert, and Emma) come out in front of the doors to the Great Hall and give you a little information on the movies, sets, and the studios themselves since they actually filmed the movies here.

The characters open the doors to the Great Hall, and the screen rises and there are the doors to the actual Great Hall (I got goose bumps just writing that!).

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As if that wasn’t cool enough, the doors open and you are in the actual Great Hall! And that’s when I burst into tears (No, I’m not ashamed to admit it!)!

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I was giddy! I Don’t think I stopped smiling (besides when I was crying) the entire time we were there!

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After the Great Hall, we moved into another hallway, filled with costumes and props. The rest of the exhibits were kind of scattered and chaotic, but I didn’t mind!

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They had the original Fat Lady painting!

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The Gryffindor Common Room!

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The Invisibility Cloak!

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Dumbeldore’s office!

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The Goblet of Fire!

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They even included the animal cast members in a lovely exhibit!

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All the Hedwigs they used!

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The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets!

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I know that was a lot of pictures, so I’ll call it a day on this post! Stay tuned for part 2 of our Harry Potter Studios adventure!

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London Day 2: The Globe Theatre and St. Paul’s Cathedral

You can read all about our first day of London, our exploration of the Jack the Ripper Museum, here.

Our next day in London began bright, early, and smoothly (the roommates from hell weren’t there yet). We had a crazy busy schedule that day, and being a bit of a slave-driver, I was going to keep us too it. We had tickets to go to the Harry Potter Studios Tour at 3, so the first part of our day was basically keeping busy until we could head over for our tour!

I was beyond excited to get to go to the Harry Potter Studios Tour, being the gigantic Harry Potter nerd that I am (and my sister went while she was studying at Cambridge and told me if I didn’t see it while I was in London I’d be really upset)! But, I’m getting a head of myself. I still need what we did that morning!

So, we left the hostel real early, and found the nearest Starbucks for breakfast. It was full of fancy British business men and women, and we felt really under dressed. We got our coffee and some breakfast foods and ate really fast.

Our first stop after breakfast was the Globe Theatre. I was soooo excited to see the Globe Theatre. I know it’s not the original, but it was still really exciting to get to see it. As an English major, I’m a huge Shakespeare fan!

So, we set off for the Globe Theatre, and naturally, got horrendously lost. Luckily for us, some very nice construction men gave us the general direction it was in, and we were able to follow signs from there.

 

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I about had a conniption when I saw it! I was giddy with excitement (told you I was a nerd!)!

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That is the face of pure excitement! I don’t think the other two were as excited as I was, but I didn’t really care…

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We looked into getting tickets to take a tour of the inside, but they were a little pricey and would have taken too long. So, we ducked into the gift-shop instead, where I spent far too much money on Shakespeare paraphernalia (I got a Globe Production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream on DVD so totally worth it! It’s phenomenal!)!

We then figured we should find somewhere to grab some lunch before we headed off to the Harry Potter Studios Tour!

But, to get us into the Harry Potter mood, we decided to go back across the Millennium Bridge. If you don’t know why this is a Harry Potter thing, it’s the bridge the Death Eaters break and knock into the river in the 6th movie!

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So, after we successfully got over the bridge (no Death Eaters knocked it down while we were on it) we noticed that St. Paul’s Cathedral was right in front of us. We figured it was worth a look!

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We hiked around to the front of the Cathedral, in search of the front door. It really was spectacular from the outside!

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We decided to pop in and see about getting a tour. Unfortunately, it was pretty expensive and we decided to skip it. I did, however, get one picture of the inside, and it’s gorgeous, so I put it on the list for the next time I’m back in London!

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See? Gorgeous!

Since we didn’t go on the tour in the Cathedral, we decided to explore the area around the Cathedral looking for a good place for lunch. We ended up in Paternoster Square, where we found another Starbucks and decided that was good enough.

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That’s the Paternoster Square Column. It was really cool to see a historically looking monument in this really business-y area. 

I suppose that’s enough for today! I have soooo many pictures from the Harry Potter Studios Tour that I think it deserves it’s own post. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

London Day 1: Jack the Ripper Museum

Since getting home from Galway, I took a riding lesson, and learned how to ride in the European style. You can read about that interesting experience here.

Since the semester was winding down, we were able to take quite a few days off to head to London. There is soooo much to see and do in London that I was really glad we took those couple of extra days. We definitely did not see and do everything that was on our to-do list, but I am so glad that I got to do what we did manage to fit in (which was a lot. We were basically sprinting around London for 5 days!).

So, we left Dungavan bright and early, hopped our flight to London, landed, took the train into the city, took the subway to the stop nearest our hostel, and then proceeded to get lost. Really that was a good day for us. We had a tendency to get lost a lot, so us getting almost all the way to the hostel before loosing our way was a huge improvement for us!

We did eventually find our way there and checked in. I think this is one of my favorite hostels, called Wombats, of all the ones we stayed in. The staff was great, the rooms were spacious (even if we did have some unfortunate roommates), and they were super secure. If you’re ever in London, stay there.

We were super lucky that we were staying right in the heart of the area where Jack the Ripper killed all those prostitutes! Since I enjoy that kind of macabre stuff, I thought that was really cool! And since we were in his old stomping (killing) grounds, it only made sense to check out the Jack the Ripper Museum right around the corner from the hostel!

I loved this museum! I think it’s one of my favorites of all the ones we went to! It was so interactive. And Jack the Ripper is a special interest of mine. I really think he’s interesting, and actually did my senior project on him in high school.

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The museum was set up in an old house, with each of the 6 floors representing a different facet of the murders. The first room was Mitre Square, where the police found Catherine Eddowes, the second woman killed. All the rooms had wax figures, or things you could interact with. There were also speakers projecting sound into the rooms (sometimes it got to be super scary).

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This was the graffiti on the wall at the crime scene. 

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We then went up to the next floor. The next floor was a sitting room, with things the different personas they claimed Jack had where present. There was medical equipment, knives, and other creepy things!

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The liver that Jack sent to the newspaper!

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In some of the rooms, they had costume pieces that were period appropriate. Of course, I had a blast with these!

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We then went up to the next floor: the police station. This room had actual artifacts from the murders. There was the actual whistle Police Constable Watkins blew when he found Catherine Eddowes body in Mitre Square. There was also his notebook, handcuffs and truncheon he was carrying that day!

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I’m super intimidating, aren’t I?!?

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Constable Watkins!

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His cuffs and truncheon.

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We then went up the creaking final set of stairs to the bedroom. This room was terrifying because they had a voice that kept singing! It got really eerie sometimes!

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They also had pictures of all the women before they were mutilated hanging in this room.

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It was a little scary up there!

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We then trooped back down all the stairs to the basement of the building. In the basement was the Mortuary. This room was terrifying. It was dead silent, and through like three sets of doors. I really expected zombies to pop out at us!

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On the walls down here they had the original autopsy photos of the women. These were a little creepy, and hard to look at.

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We then hiked back up to the lobby and gift-shop area. I bought myself some souvenirs because I love Jack the Ripper stuff! The lady working the front desk there was beyond wonderful! She went above and beyond to make sure we had extra info!

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She also snapped this great pic of us, and told us where to find a really good Indian restaurant. 

We went back to the hostel, picked up Heather, who needed a nap while we ran to the museum, and headed off in search of Indian food. We ended up on Brick Lance. We actually ended up at an Argentinian restaurant, not Indian, called Moo Cantina. I’ve never had Argentinian food before, and it was delicious! We ended up drinking quite a few margaritas before heading back to the hostel to get some sleep!

Stay tuned for more of our London adventure!

Cliffs of Moher

Hi all. You can read about our first day in Galway here and here. You can read about our second day in the Aran Islands here.

Our last day in Galway had us up early with bags packed and on the bus. We would be heading to the Cliffs of Moher for the bulk of the day. We stopped first at The Burren. The Burren is part of a really interesting geological landmark. We pulled the bus over and hopped out for some pictures.

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Once we were all done taking pictures at The Burren, we were piled back onto the bus and drove the rest of the way to the Cliffs of Moher. It was really exciting to get to see the Cliffs of Moher. Again, I think it’s one of those kind of iconic Ireland sites. Like, if you’re going to Ireland, you’re going to make a point of seeing the Cliffs of Moher.

I was really excited to see the Cliffs because they filmed the cave scene in Harry Potter 6 at the Cliffs of Moher. Being a huge Harry Potter nerd, this had me really excited!

Eventually, we got there and got unloaded from the bus. We were given our tickets to explore the tower that’s there and then we were left on our own, with the express order to be back at the bus by a certain time so we could get back to Dungarvan that night.

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That cave is where HP 6 was filmed! You can go cave diving there! We were not allowed, otherwise I totally would have!

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That’s O’Brien’s Tower, but more on that later!

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It was a perfect day to go see the Cliffs! It was beautiful up there… albeit a little windy!

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We had a lovely tour guide who was very knowledgeable about the birds who live on the Cliffs. They have Atlantic Puffins there! And I was super excited to get to see them. I unfortunately didn’t see any, and therefore don’t have any pictures.

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At this point, we started the hike over to O’Brien’s Tower. The tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien a descendant of Brian Boru, who I’ve talked about before here, as an observation point.

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We were told that that’s the rock that Harry and Dumbeldore stand on in HP 6!

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The climb up into the tower was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done! I have never been on a smaller or narrower set of spiral stairs before in my life! And they were old! I was afraid we were all going to fall through them! But, we made it safely to the top, and then safely back down!

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Being up in the tower really let me appreciate the beauty of where I was. It provided some extra height (and some extra wind) but the views form up there were completely worth it!

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The roomies and I, of course, had to stop and get a group shot!

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After we were done exploring, we headed into the main building for some lunch (and some snacks for the bus ride back to Dungarvan), before we hit the gift-shop. The gift-shop there was pretty big, so be sure to check it out if you ever go! The main building itself had a lot of really cool stuff to check out about the history of the Cliffs and the buildings there.

After lunch, and gift-shopping, we piled back onto the bus and set back off for Dungarvan. I really loved getting to see Galway! Next time I’m in back in that area of Ireland, I’m definitely going back! It has a different vibe than the rest of Ireland!

Stay tuned to read all about my trip to London!

We explore Inishmore

You can read all about our first day in Galway here and here. So, our second day in Galway started off bright and early. Our hostel gave us breakfast, and then we were loaded back onto the bus and taken to the docks.

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We hopped on a big old ferry boat to take us over to the Aran Island, Inishmore. Inishmore was such a different place from any other I had seen in Ireland. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We got onto the ferry, and I sat white-knuckling it for about 45 minutes. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I have a pretty deep-seated fear of boats. The ferry ride was definitely a traumatic one as it was kinda stormy.

But, we landed safely at Inishmore. Now, on the island you can explore in three different way: you can walk, rent a bike, or rent a horse drawn cart. We went with the horse!

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The horse’s name was Johnny Cash. We were buddies!

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So, we all hopped aboard his little cart, and started off exploring the island!

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I loved Inishmore. It was so different. Here the people speak very basic English, and speak a dialect all their own. It has a really tiny population, and basically everyone goes horseback. I loved it there! It was rustic and how I pictured old Ireland. I had such fun exploring!

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One of the women we were sharing our cart with saw this abandoned church on the hilltop, and asked if we could explore it. Our driver let us hop out and climb up to it. The church used to be called Na Seacht dTeampail, or the Seven Churches in English.

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We came down off the hilltop, and hopped back into the cart. Our next stop would be the look-out to see Inishmore’s own seal colony!

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Sadly, when we got to the seal look-out there were no seals to be seen. We stayed for a while, hoping some might surface, but none ever did.

So, we hopped back into the cart and set off for Dún Aonghasa, or The Black Fort in English.

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This is the town they used to film the “Man of Aran” movie!

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It rained on an doff throughout the day. Luckily, our horse cart had screens you could pull down on wither side to stop the rain from getting in and soaking you. We stopped for lunch before heading up the path to Dún Aonghasa. img_2968

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The landscape up there was soooo different form anything else on the island. It felt like stepping into another world! I loved this part of the day. The hike was a little rough, but the views at the top were totally worth it!

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That’s the fort back there in the background. It was very cool to look at!

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The fort is located on top of a 300 foot cliff! It was a little nerve-wracking looking off the edge!

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So, being me, I decided to lay down and look off the edge. We were expressly told not to fall off, so with that in mind, I slowly scooched to the edge.

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It was a little scary! Clearly, from the look on my face!

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We finally decided to venture into the fort itself. There really isn’t anything much left on the inside. It was still cool to be up on the cliff and think of the people who used to be there and use the fort.

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And, since I’m me, I decided to go over the edge here too…

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Since it was starting to get ominous and cloudy again, we decided to vacate the fort and head back down to our cart and driver.

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We made it down just as the rain was starting to get really bad. We got pretty wet, but not as bad as some of our classmates who walked the island!

We got back into the cart, and he took us back to the dock.

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Inishmore has some of the last Man of Aran houses with the thatched roofs!

When we got back to the docks, we noticed the Aran Sweater Market, and just had to pop in to loom. Which means we all walked away with new Aran Island Sweaters! They are delightful! They’re so warm. I ended up buying all my family souvenirs from the Sweater Market.

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We got back onto the ferry, and had a much worse crossing this time as it was actually storming. Yea, it wasn’t fun for me.

Anyway, we made it back safely, and had the night to ourselves. We ended up exploring Galway a little, before settling down for dinner.

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We settled on a really weird half sports bar/half night club place, called McGettigan’s,  for dinner, but the food was really good!

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Our table was under a screen filled with trees to make it feel like we were in a forest. There was all types of uncut wooden logs around the table too. In another area, it was set up like an old-fashioned library. It was kind of a bizarre place decor-wise, but the food was great!

 

 

 

 

After dinner, we headed back to the hostel and went to bed. We were headed to the Cliffs of Moher the next morning! Stay tuned!