Category Archives: Travel

Here, there, everywhere.

The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour

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At last: my birthday gift to me!

I laughed.

I cried.

(Well, nearly.)

And I wandered Leavesden Studios in a daze, remembering with fondness every moment of Harry Potter mania – the seven books, the midnight release parties, the costumes, fan fiction, and hushed spoiler whispers – and the anticipation of the films that brought the magic to life.IMG_1132IMG_1065On the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, eager fans (e.g. yours truly + Marijn, my trusty comrade in arms) can revel with abandon in the literary and cinematic masterpiece of fifteen years of Harry Potter – from the 1997 publication of the Philosopher’s Stone to the box set release of all eight films.

Props, sets, costumes, interviews, pranks and quirks, production secrets and behind-the-scenes gossip – soak it all in, children of all ages. The magic lives on. IMG_1124

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Field Notes | Walking to Strand Campus

Time: (morning rush)

8:30am – 9:30am (typical London workday is 9-5 or 10-6);shops generally open between 10 and 11am; larger chain restaurants open between 7 and 9am, smaller cafes and restaurants may not open until 10 or later)

People and Activities: (varied by area)

St Katherine’s Docks – sparsely populated, mostly men and women on their way to the Tower Hill Tube Station (business professionals) wearing suits or business-appropriate attire, assumed middle class, many taking personal calls on mobile phones, most walking alone, occasional solo runners, little interaction with others, restaurant staff setting up chairs & table settings for the day, short queue at the pop-up coffee vendor’s stall

Tower of London – largely tourists standing at rails to photograph the tower and each other; some professionals entering/leaving Tower Hill subway to access tube/train stations; generally benign, but occasionally brusque, interactions between the two as tourists stroll or stop and professionals attempt to hurry; tourists are primarily individuals, couples, or small family groups (no large, guided tours, no students); conversation primarily around the poppies for the WWI display in the Tower moat

Financial District – almost entirely business professionals streaming out of the tube station and toward their offices on the streets opposite; 2 charity canvassers attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to stop and chat with passers-by (myself included, though I too ignore them). Two men stand amidst the crowd handing out newspapers and another distributes fliers, presumably for a special taking place at the restaurant in which he works (he’s wearing a white apron); mostly white, middle class, English-speakers (those who speak at all) traveling alone or in pairs as they seem to have met up with a colleague along the way

St. Paul’s Cathedral – at this time in the morning, St. Paul’s is still rather quiet; business professionals walk by. Similar situation to St. Katherine’s Docks re:professionals and occasional runners; a few more family groups of tourists but again no large groups as it is still early

Fleet Street/Temple – greater number of young people around (whom I assume to be students) and more casually dressed business professionals; shops are beginning to open up, and tourists stand in small huddles on street corners consulting maps

General – Driving traffic is moderate, we are a bit past the morning rush by the time I enter the city; mainly cabs, buses, and personal vehicles but occasional construction trucks pass by; about two dozen cyclists pass along the way (from experience, this number would have been much greater earlier in the morning) and these seem to be young professionals, and predominantly white men (equal parts wearing jeans or cycling gear and suits; all carrying bags)

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Critical Caffeine Cartography

The Housing Hunt has Ended

Since moving out of my lovely little Basotho rondavel in early August, I have jumped from hostel to house to tent to house to house across 4 countries and 2 continents. My life has occasionally condensed to a single backpack’s worth of shirts and underwear and only expanded as far as a duffel bag – twice that size. And much as I love travelling, when looking for a place to settle down for a year there’s a certain desire to unpack the suitcase that’s been glaring at me for the past 7 weeks (and I swear getting heavier by the day out of spite…).

Fortunately, the second in the series of sagas – that of London accommodation – has finally come to an end! The quest has been a source of much frustration, several downer days, and way too much money stripped off my Oyster card. Sadly, finding decent housing in London at a decent price in a decent area and with decent flatmates is like mixing a cocktail with only half the ingredients and substituting along the way.

I move in 3 weeks to east-central London. Expect some geeky gushing about the neighbourhood in about that amount of time. Housewarming parties to come!

Dragana Jevtovic Ceramics

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My Cape Town host also happens to create fantastic pottery!

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Table Mountain

“It is not your mountain until you’ve conquered it” – Dragana

I proudly claim ownership over a small piece of the domineering Table Mountain. Mark, one of my Cape Town hosts, and I scrambled the Platteklip trail to the top on my very first morning.

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To Cape Town I Go!

IMG_0625At long last, the Visa Saga is complete!

Following my Swazi border-jump, I re-entered the Republic of South Africa with a week to kill before my London flight. Naturally, an opportunistic trip to Cape Town was in order.

And just as I feared, I fell in love with the city. Hard.

In four and a half days I saw a major slice of Western Cape highlights, but left so much of Cape Town itself grievously unexplored. Can I persuade anyone to accompany me on a future South African jaunt?