Posts tagged ‘Harry Potter’

The 2011 New York Trip

Joe and I try to get back up to New York every year or two – besides giving us a chance to go “home” (Joe’s from New Jersey and I’m from Brooklyn and then Staten Island – although we’ve lived in Florida for 10 years now and love our adopted state, things just always feel more “normal” when we’re in Manhattan – the pace, the accents, the attitude – everything that I didn’t like about NY when I lived there (OK, except the weather – I still HATE the cold) gives me a happy sense of nostalgia when I go to visit), we get to eat “good” pizza and bagels, delight in drinking water straight from the tap and pack in as many Broadway shows as we can into a long weekend. With Anything Goes, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Book of Mormon all in previews, we decided now was a good time to go. So we made reservations for a Thursday to Sunday trip.

Of course, things can never go as perfectly as planned and this trip was no exception – we got the news that Read more…


The Wonderful World of (No) Disney

There was a time where I was one of the biggest Disney Dorks known to man. Maybe not to the extent of Read more…

Harry Potter and the People Watching Opportunities

Joe and I went to go see Harry Potter 7 (well, Part 1 of Part 7) the other day. Now, I enjoy the whole HP enterprise but wouldn’t say I’m fanatical about it. I read all the books, have seen all the movies and think the theme park section at Universal is done well enough where I was Read more…

England ’06: Oxford, Harry Potter references, Avenue Q, Tesco’s

Wake-up log: Sharon 1st, Joe 2nd, Steve 3rd (wink)

It was a little harder to get to Paddington Station this morning, because we had to switch trains during rush hour. Finally got it done though and wow, what a HUGE station it is!

A small portion of Paddington Station. This picture really doesn’t give the cavernous place justice.

After we got our bearings and found out where our train would be, we wandered around for while and grabbed some breakfast (my choice was Starbuck’s coffee and 3 Millie’s Cookies…ahhh, now THAT is vacation breakfast!). Made it onto our 9:52am train to Oxford and, after some confusion of where our reserved seats were, we were on our way.

We booked tickets on the CitySightseeing Oxford tour, which is a group of double-decker tour buses that had live narrators on board. You could enter or exit as you pleased and the buses had stops all over the center of town.

One of the CitySightseeing Oxford tour buses

I thought that Oxford was a charming town, with buildings dating from the 900’s to 2001 and 40-someodd individual colleges that make up “Oxford University” (graduates of which include Bill Clinton and Kris Kristofferson).

“Charming little town” pic #1

“Charming little town” pic #2

Not so much a “charming little town” pic as much as “Steve doing what he does best pic”…talk to strangers. Unfortunately, these strangers were talking to him about human rights violations in Iran and, for once, Steve walked away rather quickly. Not as quickly as I would have, though (grin).

Joe doing what he does best…looking at the map (grin)

Our first line of business was to buy tickets for the Bodleian Library tour, since that was the only way to see the Bodleian Library, which, besides being rated one of the 10 most beautiful libraries in the world, also is the library that was used as Hogwart’s Library in the Harry Potter films. We managed to snag tickets for the 2pm tour but since it was barely past 12:30pm, we went on our way to our next stop, Christ Church.

Christ Church dates as far back as the 8th Century AD, although some buildings in the compound were built as late as 1863. Many of the characters that Lewis Carroll wrote for the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland series of books were inspired by Christ Church people and objects. Furthermore, the Great Staircase (which we couldn’t go up) was used in the first 2 Harry Potter movies and the Great Hall (which we couldn’t visit due to time conflicts) was the model for what became Hogwarts’ dining hall.

Sharon outside of Christ Church

Lawn inside Christ Church

The staircase we couldn’t go up (where Professor MacGonagall first meets her First Year students at Hogwarts)

The cloisters at Christ Church (where Harry is shown the trophy his father won as a seeker in Quidditch)

Christ Church is, of course, a church and we made a stop in there to admire the architecture and stained glass (well, *I* did. I love churches. Joe & Steve were probably just happy we didn’t stay very long [grin]).

Center aisle

Closer picture of the altar

Stained glass window at Christ Church

After finishing with Christ Church, we walked around for a few minutes and stopped into a covered market to get something to eat. Steve got something at a place called Ricardo’s and Joe got a turkey and bacon sandwich at The Oxford Sandwich Company. Joe also bought a Diet Cherry Coke that tasted NOTHING like the Diet Cherry Coke we’re familiar with. This tasted like all cherry and no Coke. It was pretty gross. Oh, and I didn’t get anything to eat at this stop…I was still full of cookies.

Our tour of the Bodleian Library (official site is here) began in the room known as The Divinity School, which was built from 1427-1488 and was the building used as the hospital in the Harry Potter movies.

Much of the monies collected to build the building was from wealthy benefactors, whose initials and/or coat of arms can be found on the ceiling of the room.

The Divinity School’s latest “addition” was in 1987, when electricity was added to the room. The room began as a part of the Divinity (which would now be called “Theology”, of the University still offered such a subject. It doesn’t.) Department but eventually went under the jurisdiction of the Library of the University.

From Virtual Tour of Oxford: “At the far end of the Divinity School is a door giving entrance into the Convocation House. Built in 1634-7, this room has a fan-vaulted ceiling and fine Jacobean woodwork, including dark oak panelling carved with a perspective effect of pedimented arches, the Chancellor’s Throne with a hexagonal canopy and simple benches. This room housed the Parliament of England during the Civil War (1642-6), and to this day has no artificial lighting. It is still used for University ceremonies, notably for the election of the Chancellor.” It had also been used in the first Harry Potter movie, as the classroom where the students learn how to “Wingardium Leviosa.”

Dark picture of the Convocation House

The next part of the tour was a smaller meeting room that was an offshoot of the first meeting room:

The University’s Library, called Duke Humfrey`s Library, was headed by Sir Thomas Bodley, whose life was devoted to developing the library system (hence the name, Bodleian Library). When the Library got too big, they would raise money and build an extension. There have been lots of extensions over the centuries, some as additions to the original building, some in other buildings and some even underground. The need all the space because the Bodleian Library has an ongoing collection of every book released in UK. Fortunately, almost all of the books are accessible via computer so readers can “find” their requested book on the computer and a librarian will “find” and “deliver” it in a short period of time. No one (not even royalty) is allowed to actually borrow books from the library…only look at/read them there. No one is allow to remove a book from the Library. Unfortunately also, no one is allowed to take pictures in the main library room (which was used as Hogwart’s library in Harry Potter). But since you can take as many pictures OUTSIDE the building as you want, here’s a window of the Library:

Click here for more information about Harry Potter shooting locations in and around Oxford and here for some more Harry Potter-referenced shots. I also found this (rather large) picture of the Library.

Once the tour was over, we walked around Oxford a while more, looking for Oxford shirts and “miscellaneous tourist crap” (mission accomplished), then went back on our tour bus so we could get back to our train.

We got to the train station about an hour early so we took a local (non-air-conditioned, crowded) train, instead of the (cooler, reserved seats) train we had originally booked. Oh well…live and learn and it gave us more opportunity to take a well-earned nap on the train.

We made it back to the Leicester Square exit by about 6:30pm and, after picking up our show tickets at Will Call and then some wandering and deciding, we sat down to eat at a restaurant called Black’s. The food was good…I had a steak and mushroom pie, Joe had a hamburger (very English) and Steve had a lamb dish.

After dinner was the original reason for our coming to England…to see Avenue Q at the Noël Coward Theatre (formerly the Albery Theatre). The show (between NY, Las Vegas and now UK, it was my 4th time, Joe’s 3rd and Steve’s 2nd time at seeing it) was, as always, terrific, and second only to the first time we saw the Original Broadway Cast. Of course, I wound up buying a bunch of Avenue Q “stuff”.

The Noël Coward Theatre at night

And during the day

After the show was over, we went back to our hotel room to drop off all our stuff, then went back out to visit the local supermarket, called Tesco, which was about a mile from Base2Stay.

We enjoyed walking around, seeing some very familiar items (did you know that “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is international?) and other items that made us scratch our heads and say “WTF?” (what IS the difference between “cookies” and “digestibles” anyway???) And why can’t WE have Fanta Apple soda?

Anyway, after making a few purchases, we walked back to the hotel, packed out newest treasures and ended our day.

Tomorrow is scheduled to be London Eye, Wesminster Abbey, laundry and Mary Poppins. See you then!