Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harry Potter, So Long It Has Been.

Hello! I'm back to blog about my Eurotrip! (Eurotrip sounds so ambitious, especially since Bernard and I only covered London and Paris...


I'm back to blog about my Eurotrip! (Eurotrip sounds so ambitious, especially since Bernard and I only covered London and Paris.) My previous blog post only covered what we did on the first day, so here's what we did on the second day (the first part will be slightly "huh?!", but bear with me, promise you that there will be good stuff at the end).

(Unless you don't like Harry Potter at all. Then you can stop reading now or you will be bored to death.)

We started the day by setting off for King's Cross station. Instead of taking the tube or the bus, my sister, the champion of all things pedestrian, decided that we should walk and take in the sights. Here are some of the sights we passed!

The Gherkin.

The Gherkin is a skyscraper in London. It is the 7th tallest building in London. It is 40 storeys high. *pause*. HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA. Sorry. You must understand my amusement as I sit in the bedroom of my HDB flat typing away. Yes, my bedroom on the 40th storey of the HDB flat that I live in now. I guess this also goes to show how tight on land we are, and how land isn't really that much of a concern in other countries.

We also passed St. Bride's church.
My ever informative sister said that many believe that the spire of this church served as inspiration for the very lucrative business that centres around the multi-tiered wedding cake. Also, yes the pointy thing is called a spire. Before going to London and France and visiting like a few dozen churches and cathedrals, I always thought that they were called "towers".

Along the way my sister also explained that London is divided into Boroughs, and the CBD area is known as the City of London. I wanted to draw a parallel with Singapore and GRCs but I decided that wouldn't work because Tanjong Pagar GRC and City Hall isn't really the same as the London and the City of London.

So you can see these bollards all around the City. I know they are bollards, but I think that they are there mainly for decorative purposes. Look! They look like they've been recently painted (read: no graffiti) and they aren't crappy looking. Also YEAH! They are called bollards *takes a bow*.
Here are some bollards lining an alley which leads to...
The Guildhall Library and the Guildhall! Guilds are like clans! Workers from the same profession join guilds and talk about profession related stuff and discuss issues related to their profession.
Very big and old looking Guildhall.
Have you realised that old buildings are full of details, sculpture and carvings? These days buildings are like steel frame and glass sheets and OKAY! We're done. Exactly how old is the Guildhall? Well, my sister brought us inside to show us this.
These are Roman amphitheatre ruins! Like freaking cool. The reflective part on the ground is actually a glass sheet covering ancient drainage of the amphitheatre. And the green lights show you what the place would have looked like in the ancient times. You must use a bit a lot of imagination.

But in case you don't have a lot of imagination, these are what ancient drains look like.
And these are what ancient walls now look like. I'm sure they looked better in their prime.
My boyfriend, the Roman Gladiator.
We went back out to the square and I HAD to take this photo of the lamp post and the flags. Because you know, I'm a tourist in London.
Proving my point about being a tourist in London.
We also walked by this bar called "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese".My sister had initially planned to bring us there sometime during our trip but we didn't manage to in the end. Oh well!!
I was telling my sister that Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory once said,"My God, they can't expect to put Ye Olde in front of anything they want and get away with it." via youtube (why do people disable embedding?) And my sister told me that this place is waaaaay old. This place was rebuilt in 1667 after the Great Fire of London burnt it down. REBUILT in 1667. Not even built in 1667.

And here is the plaque which declares that it used to be a haunt for Charles Dickens.
Also please take a look at this clock of the Guild Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West! It's the first public clock in London to have a minute hand. You know, because people in the olden days didn't really bother about minutes and didn't really care if it was 9:15 or 9:30. But then later on in 1667 they decided that life should be more stressful and that a minute hand would be good. TSK.
Before I move on to the more modern things in London, I would like to add that there are many gigantic stone buildings in London. And usually restaurants in these huge gigantic stone buildings would be located underground. As with the case of this amazing restaurant that we ate at.

Hawksmoor! Yes, the food was awesome enough to peak the interest of a non-food lover such as myself.
This was what I had - Wild Mushrooms on Toast withPoached Eggs Hollandaise. YUM YUM (is how I would describe it to Ness).
Bernard's Full English Breakfast!
If you're ever in London, you're bound to want to see the Guildhall and the Amphitheatre (right?). And Hawksmoor is really just around the corner, so please remember to drop by to eat some awesome food. (And I say this so casually as though London is a part of Singapore. HAHA.)

Anyway, I was talking about stone buildings. The point I wanted to make about this gigantic old stone buildings is that you don't get reception in them. Because the stone is really thick and you're usually underground, beneath all this stone. Which is great if you need an excuse to avoid someone, but bad for a fidgety social media whore such as myself. HAHAHA. (OKAY I'M NOT THAT BAD LA. Trying to make a point here!!)

Look! A rubbish bin which gives you information such as the time and weather!
HAHA. Okay but seriously, after walking around the City, we reached the City of Westminster, which is another borough in London.
And then I sat in a bird cage.
And we also saw this very interesting food stall.
And then we took the train to Watford Junction, WHERE WE SAT ON THIS BUS LOOK LOOK LOOK!
Ohmygosh like can you imagine our excitement?!! Like after reading all the books from cover to cover and watching all the movies and reading the books again and joining Pottermore andandandandand YOU ARE FINALLY GOING TO THE MAKING OF HARRY POTTER WARNER BROTHERS STUDIO TOUR?!!! IT IS REALLY SO INCREDIBLY EXCITING!!!
Here I am at the studio! I looks surprisingly calm. Well done self-control!
We got our tickets printed! My sister got the Mandrake, Bernard got Dobby and I got the Nagini. (Okay, I admit that I snatched Nagini and left Bernard and my sister to decide who got Dobby because we couldn't figure out what the Mandrake was when we first got the tickets.)
So there was a bit of time before our tour started, so we headed to the gift shop aka Honeydukes to snap as many photos as we possibly could. As we were tourists. And also because THIS IS HARRY POTTER YO.

Chocolate and candy in Honeydukes!
Clockwise from top left hand corner: Honeydukes chocolate, Peppermint Toads, Fizzing Whizbees, Chocolate Frogs and Chcolate Wands.

I also rode on a Firebolt.
And Bernard cast spells with the Elder wand.
And then we joined a long and winding queue. To get into the studios, you have to prebook your tickets online. It really just goes to show how popular the tour is. (AND ALSO HOW AWESOME, AND EPIC THE TOUR IS).
But it's really not like anyone minded the wait. There was plenty to look at while the line crawled to the entrance of the studios. Like the Weasleys' Flying Ford Anglia!
And portraits of all the actors which adorned the walls.
And believe me, there were many portraits. I took this in panorama and still didn't manage to capture them all! (I tried multiple times).

And then we even got to see the Cupboard Under The Stairs! Can you spot Harry's spectacles?
I FOUND THEM SEE SEE SEE?! I was so very proud.
We finally got into the studios and we watched a short show on the phenomenon that is HARRY POTTER and it really was amazing! Like there were videos of ardent fans from all over the globe dressed up in their best potter gear, screaming and shouting and waving. And we also got to see the Harry Potter movie posters in the various languages that it was screened in! Like Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, German and so on. VERY COOL AND AWESOME. And then we walked into another theatre where they screened a short clip of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. They did an introduction on how the studios were like their second home for 10 years and how they grew up on the set with the crew who were like family to them. It was a very good introduction. Very informal and conversational. I like.

When the doors opened, everyone swarmed into the hall. LIKE REALLY SWARMED.
Luckily, Bernard, my sister and I hung back and waited till the crazy tourists swarmed else where.
The only crazy tourist you can see here, is Bernard.

We got to see the different house tables, and the uniforms of the students from the different houses were on display as well! I'm sure you can identify the uniforms! But in case you live in a cave..

Hoho and I also took close ups of the house crests! *rubs hands in glee*
They also had the costumes of the teaching staff on display!
Okay so here you can see Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid and Lupin! But you also must note the structure with 4 hourglass like things! That's the House Point Counter, and each hourglass is filled with colouful glass beads! Apparently, the prop makers were very proud of their creation, even though the counter was rarely shown in the movies.

Also do you see the owl podium in front of Dumbledore? It's covered in REAL GOLD.

Next we went to see the production design!
We started off by looking at the set decoration and costumes from the Yule Ball. This was the model which was featured in the film.
And these are the costumes of Harry, Hermione, Victor Krum and Cho Chang.
Next came the Chocolate Feast!
Complete with chocolate desserts made from resin. Some of the chocolate items were baked for the cast to consume. But they didn't consume all of the edible items! The swiss rolls and the chocolate phoenix cake in the photo were baked and have survived seven years of storage. (Dare you to eat).

Then we moved on to set construction.
I would like to stress that it is extremely difficult to get a shot of the gate without anyone standing and posing with it. Like so.
And also so.
We also saw the Leaky Cauldron!

Like how makeup artists in the movie industry swear by MAC makeup and La Prairie moisturiser if you want to protect your skin from the constant application and removal of makeup!
And also how Harry Potter's costumes are courtesy of Topman and Uniqlo!
SIGH. I wish I was back there. Anyhow, my sister was looking at my photos and was like, "Eh what happened to your lens? Is there something wrong with it? There are black spots on the photo."
HAH. We were actually doing a zipai in the Mirror of Erised.
This is the only mirror which I shamelessly zipai-ed in. Please note that I feel that it is very unclassy to zipai in public toilets.

It's really awesome. It's complete with self-stirring cauldrons and bottles labels of rare ingredients and minerals from old alchemy recipes!

Here's a closeup that Bernard took. He stretched his arm as far as he could to take this. He would have gotten closer, but we think there are sensor alarms around or something. They beeped when he got within touching distance of the props.
We also saw the Gryffindor Boys' Dormitory!

Harry's and Ron's bed!
It's quite interesting to note that these beds were built when Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint were like kids. So during the filming for the later movies, the guys had to curl up in order to prevent their legs from dangling of the edges of their beds.

The tour was really interactive.

Take the Burrow for example!
You could move different levers to iron the clothes, scrub the frying pan, chop the carrots and knit a scarf.

You can't tell because this isn't video, HERE I AM IRONING SOME CLOTHES!
USING MY MAGIC POWERS TO KNIT IN THE AIR. And ooh look the Wesleys' family clock is here! Also, it was explained that no wall in the Burrow is at a 90 degree angle. All the walls were deliberately sloped to give it a higgledy-piggledy self-constructed kind of feel.

Lupin's trunk was also another interactive station!
You just had to press a button and the trunk would unpack itself!! It was waaaaay cool.

We saw Alastor Moody's trunk as well. But sadly, it didn't have a similar button for me to press.
Also went to the Ministry of Magic and Bernard is pretending to be crushed by the Magic is Might sculpture along with the other muggles.
OKAY. Actually I also have pictures of Umbridge's office and her outfits, and pictures of Death Eaters, and Galleons and OMG SO MANY THINGS. But I am very sleepy now. So you may view all the awesome pictures here.

And now I would like to show-off some very awesome moments of my visit to the studios.

Trust me, Butterbeer is awesome. Everyone has to go to London to drink it. I don't really know how to describe it. It's something like a root beer float. The liquid portion is fizzy and creamy, sort of like ice cream soda? And the top is um, according to Bernard, the same cream they put on top of your Gong Cha. But I disagree as I hate the cream that comes with Gong Cha but I love love love this butterbeer, cream and all.

Anyway! Here is Bernard, me and our butterbeer with the Knight Bus, which is made from 3 vintage double-decker buses.
And this is my sister and I in Hagrid's flying motorcycle (with our butterbeer).
And oh no! Bernard is going to be run over by the Knight Bus! SOMEONE SAVE HIS BUTTERBEER!
My sister and I in front of 4 Privet Drive! (Still with our butterbeer. I'm telling you, butterbeer is awesome stuff!)
My sister and I in Diagon Alley in front of Eeylops Owl Emporium. No butterbeer. :(. We finished our butterbeer before going indoors.
Here's Bernard in Diagon Alley!
He was very fascinated by this.
He was like, "DRAGON!!! Help me take!!!"

Here's the Hogwarts castle everyone! The castle you see in the movies is really this model right here! With hand crafted details, real plants and real gravel! So like, yeah, sorry to burst your bubble everyone. Don't think you can live in it.
The Warner Brother's Studio Tour was really awesome and a must-go for every Harry Potter fan. It was really one of the highlights of my trip. And I really saw much much more than what I can blog about or post on Facebook. I think I took about 400+ photos at the studios alone?

It was really cool to find out how the moving portraits moved, to walk past the Monster Book of Monsters and have it open its eyes and snap at you, to read about the different props and how prop makers went about making them and really how the entire film series was a gigantic operation with thousands of people where a million things could go wrong but everything just fell into place and produced an end result that was just, MAGIC.

Just some tips before you go on your trip to The Making of Harry Potter. In order of descending importance.

1. Charge your camera.
2. Charge your spare batteries.
3. Charge your phone.
4. Charge your portable phone charger.
5. Switch off your 3G. Instagramming/Tweeting/Social media can wait. (Can't believe I just said that.) If possible, switch your phone to airplane mode so that you can take photos, but no pesky texts or calls would come in and drain your battery.

Bernard, my sister and I cumulatively went through 2 HTC batteries, 2 Duracell chargers, 1 Energizer charger, 1 Canon battery, and 3 Sony batteries. Yes. It was that bad.

And it wasn't just us. I took this photo 5 seconds before a staff apologetically told this girl that she wasn't allowed to charge her phone in the middle of a passageway (which is actually the art gallery which is awesome as everything else is).
So please if you are going to London, do check out The Making of Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour! Tickets have to be bought beforehand from this website and are price £28.00 or SGD$56. WHICH IS VERY AFFORDABLE AND SO WORTH IT AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Okay and this concludes my blog post and so far I have only blogged about Day 1 and until 6 pm of Day 2. Well done and good job to me!

And now I will leave you with a photo of my handsome boyfriend.
❤ Jac.

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