Tag Archives: Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Part I

5 Jan
A welcoming sign stating that you're in the right place.

A welcoming sign stating that you’re in the right place

The shuttle bus was full & the lines were as expected but the gloomy weather didn’t dampen my excitement. My first stop was Ollivander’s wand shop. The line wasn’t that bad & I only had to wait 30 minutes.

Inside Ollivander's Wandshop

Inside Ollivander’s Wandshop

The wand that chose me was.., well no! The show & actor were clever & two kids that were chosen to have wands chosen for them did enhance the experience! I really wanted to be ‘the chosen kid’! My wand choice was either Prof Snape’s or Sirius’. I decided to buy Sirius Black’s as it was very ornate and handsomely pretty.

My treats

My treats

My next stop was The Castle. By now the lines were pretty long but the rain was heavier. The line was 2 hours long. So i decided to skip the castle & went straight for the single rider line for the MOST awesome ride.

The Forbidden Ride staircase. Wow. I was here. The ride was amazeballs. You were riding a broom chair; the effects were fantastic. You were taken on a journey through dragons attacking you with hot breath, spiders spraying you with their venom and Dementors trying to suck the life out of you. Luckily my spell of ‘expecto petronum” worked. The G force was fantastic; I did feel a bit queasy at the end from all of that broomstick riding through the Castle and escaping dragons down to the Quidditch oval! And I’m not a big girl when it comes to extreme rides! Note to self next time: DON’T have breakfast! And definitely not after you’ve had a butterbeer!

Magical writing on the column beckoning you into The Castle

Magical writing on the column beckoning you into The Castle

I went back to the Castle line & it was deceiving. It took an hour through the back of the Castle. But going through the dungeons was great. Dumbledore‘s office was fantastic. A hologram of him spoke to you & it was fantastic. The next room was where Ron, Harry & Hermoine spoke to you in their normal banter wanting you to escape a boring Potions class. Ron did an incorrect spell & snow came out of the large wooden candelabra in the classroom. Everyone gasped! I was hoping Professor Snape would also appear (as I do have a soft spot for him). Their banter did change throughout the five minutes that I was in the classroom – which made it more interesting.

Hermoine informed us of the Forbidden chair ride & how she’d put a spell on the chair. The paintings spoke to you and of course it wouldn’t have been the same if the fat lady wasn’t there! The attention to detail was fantastic with The Mirror of Erised from the 1st book The Philosopher’s stone, lots of quidditch stuff including the Triwizard Cup, images of The Great Hall, the font from Dumbledore’s office, the four founders etc etc.

More to come!



8 Dec

I’m not sure if I know anyone who doesn’t like celebrating their birthday. It is the one special day every year that is YOUR day. But at my age, birthdays should be a lot longer. Like a month! And today was the start of that month (actually it started a week before my BIG day) but hey, who’s counting days? Not me!

So today I woke up and where I am staying in Madrid with my wonderful host Sonia, who speaks amazing Aussie as she lived in Melbourne for a year back in 2009! She had left a little surprise for me. I didn’t have time to drink my tea or eat my brie, but I’ll work on that later tonight.What I woke up to this morning airbnb.com is THE best place to find an apartment. See mine by clicking on this link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/661255 

So my birthday trip to Toledo was amazing and what started off very foggy ended up being a lovely 12 degree, sunny day. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but what an amazing place. Gorgeous winding, cobbled streets and a view that reminded me of beautiful Sienna or San Gimignano landscapes in Italy.

I will share with you a few standouts: first how the Kings, Muslims and Christians lived in harmony for so long: unheard of today.

Second, El Greco’s unforgettable paintings are incredible in the Church which is on steroids. The Church took 200 years to build and while my photos don’t do it justice, I found this one to show you how LARGE it is! There is a mix of Gothic, Byzantine and so many other influences, you’ll have to read about in on Wiki:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledo_Cathedral Toledo Cathedral

This is El Greco’s famous painting “Expolio” – no not to be confused with Expelaramus from Harry Potter!


In Toledo’s Church of Santo Tomé, El Greco’s greatest work “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz” hangs. It is pretty amazing considering I am yet to hit Prado museum. This was painted by Greco 200 years after this event supposedly occurred. Two saints came down from well… St Peter is in the picture as well, so you can guess what happened. Greco’s bearded deceased wife is also in there as well! He always liked to paint her with a beard. I know. Why?


What else can I tell you? Well, there are two synagogues in Toledo. We visited Santa Maria la Blanca, with the original ceiling made of Lebanese cedar.

Santa Maria Church

It started off it’s life as a Jewish synagogue but once the Jews were given their leave pass in 1492 (does that year sound familiar)? It became a Catholic Church. While I am a doubter when it comes to religion, the fact remains that these monuments are amazing and worth seeing, especially the Toledo Cathedral. Out of this world really.

And finally, this is my birthday present to myself. The photo doesn’t do it justice but the artisans decorate non-precious metals with gold. I thought these earrings and pendant were pretty. Check out how they make Damascene jewellery . http://www.lands-faraway.com/damascene-about.htm

My birthday present - Toledo Damascene

Well one of my birth ‘day’ celebrations this year has been amazing. Bring on the next. Oh that would be tomorrow! Until then….

Xmas Present Woes – Give Experiences

18 Dec

This holiday season, instead of giving your girlfriends a necklace or a sweater, mix things up and gift them an experience they’ll never forget. Sometimes life’s responsibilities can get in the way of spending enough quality time with your gal pals, so what better way to make time for them than to give it as a gift? And the best part of experience gifts is that the memories and photos will last a lifetime. Here are 6 out-of-the-box girls’ night out ideas that you can share with your ladies, whether they are sporty, crafty, or have a sweet tooth!

c/- GeekTyrant.com

  1. Day spa
  2. Chocolate experience
  3. Wine tasting
  4. Pole dancing
  5. Zumba
  6. Book club

And lads, you can do the same thing… except no shopping on the list! And while you’d like to try pole dancing, I’m not sure how that would go down with your man-pals.

  1. Deep sea fishing trip
  2. Skydiving
  3. Wine tasting
  4. Duran Duran 2012 concert tickets (yes you may as well fess up – you loved ‘em too)
  5. Dr Who box set (or Star Wars) – fun for everyone & some downtime in the new year.
  6. Bikram yoga (yes… lose those unwanted Xmas kilos)
  7. If you’re in Australia – Harry Potter exhibition @Powerhouse in Sydney or Harry Potter World in the USA (and you can use the kids as your excuse)!
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