If you haven’t already heard me blabbing about it to everyone and their mothers, I’m going on the nerdiest trip of my life in a few weeks! Early this year, a dear nerdly friend asked me if I’d be interested in accompanying her to the UK to visit some Harry Potter and Doctor Who sights (and sites). 🙂
While I find traveling thrilling, I almost enjoy the art of planning it even more: who wants to return home only to realize that there may have been something super cool that you missed?! A bunch of people have asked about our itinerary, so I’m plunking some of the major pieces here in this blog post for my fellow travelers, Potterheads, and Whovians in case you’ll find it helpful.
We’re swinging up north to Scotland for a few days to:
- visit the birthplace of Harry Potter (ok, so it’s one of the cafés in which J.K. Rowling first started to pen the series, but I’ll still take it),
- hopefully meet one of my favorite bloggers that loves the Potter journey as much as I do,
- take a bus tour through the Scottish highlands (mostly so we can pretend we’re on the Hogwarts Express). I generally don’t like bus tours, but I’ll make an exception for one that will take me through the Highlands! (Plus, this one is FREE!!!)
I don’t care if it’s ‘just’ a tea room. There’s something very magical about knowing this is one of the places where Harry was written into existence.
I would describe myself as a casual Doctor Who and Torchwood fan. My friend Sole definitely has me beat in this category. In fact, she has a TARDIS in her front lawn! However, I’ve taken on the very difficult task of watching most episodes of Doctor Who in order to have a better understanding of the characters and storylines.
- The Doctor Who Experience without walking around in a confused state. This will give us the chance to see the sets, props, and costumes used when filming the series. In addition, there’s a chance some of the cast may be there!
- Torchwood is a spin-off series from Doctor Who filmed primarily in and around Cardiff. The Hub, or headquarters, is ‘secretly’ located just under the Millennium Centre in the heart of downtown. There’s not an actual exhibit to go see, but we’re going to run around town seeing a bunch of filming locations. And, um, that’s about all I know about that… Better go watch some more TV.
On a non-TV note, also in Cardiff is Roald Dahls Plass, a plaza named in honor of my favorite children’s author (and who just happened to be born in Cardiff). My Matilda tattoo will feel so at home!
By some kind of Muggle magic, we happen to be in town while the first-ever Doctor Who Festival is taking place, so we’re going there!
No trip to London would be complete without a stop at Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross station, where all the young witches and wizards hop on the Hogwarts Express!
Also on the London docket is the Muggle Tour. Unlike the Studio Tour, this tour covers the real life ‘Muggle London’ locations that inspired certain set designs and were even included in certain scenes. I’m most looking forward to seeing the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic and the pub that inspired the fictional Leaky Cauldron!
A new addition to the Potterhead dream is the Wizard Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel. Ever wanted to sleep in a Hogwarts dormitory? This is the next best thing! We’re staying in hostels every other night on this trip, but splurged for one night on this beauty. Rumor has it that it’s haunted- I will be spooning Sole all night in fear, just in case!!
Staying in a Gryffindor dormitory? Yes, please! Hold the ghosts, though.
The impetus of this trip is the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, where much of the eight Harry Potter films were made. While I admittedly prefer the books to the movies, I cannot resist the ability to step into the Potter ‘verse and live it, touch it, breathe it. I was lucky to be here in 2012 and nearly broke down in tears from excitement when entering the Great Hall- and that was just the first stop on the tour! You get to walk around and see a ginormous number of sets, props, costumes, and more! Bonus: this time around, we’re going while everything is decorated for Christmas!!! It’s fitting that this will be the last stop on our trip, as I’m not sure anything could possibly beat this.
The Great Hall set at Warner Brothers Studio Tour London
And there you have it! Nerd-cation, here we come!!!