Posts Tagged ‘England’


Travel to Harry Potter Locations: Floo Powder Not Included

July 16, 2009

Harry Potter theme parkWith the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this week, you might be yearning to add a little more magic to your next trip. I would love to go stay at the Burrow myself, but since that’s not possible (yet – I would love to see someone open a Weasley hostel) let’s explore some other ways to get your Harry Potter travel fix.

You could book a Harry Potter tour around London and let someone else do the driving. Or, if you’d rather search out the places that have known magic yourself, put together your own Potteresque itinerary:

  • Visit London’s Kings Cross Station and get a picture of Platform 9 3/4. Yes, there’s a sign there for you. Also stop by Platform 4, where the filming was actually done.
  • The London Zoo is where we first see Harry talking to snakes. Please don’t try to let any of them out.
  • Walk through Leadenhall Market in London, which stood in for Diagon Alley. Ollivander won’t be there, but maybe you can buy a cloak.
  • The Millennium Bridge is torn apart by Death Eaters in the new film, but is perfectly sturdy in real life, so you can walk across it. (Check out this article about the special effects.)
  • Rick Steves has a list of other filming locations throughout England and Scotland.

Finally, the Harry Potter Theme Park in Florida is scheduled to open next year, so you can start thinking about a trip to Orlando.


Big Ben Turns 150; Still Looks Fabulous

June 1, 2009

Happy birthday, Ben!

That big clock in London, probably the most famous clock in the world, turns 150 this year. There are no big parties planned to celebrate it, but it’s not like you’d have a hard time finding a party in London, and you can say a toast to whatever you’d like.


If you do want a big party, festival season is coming up and England puts on some of the biggest music fests in the world. Grab a cheap student airfare to check out some of your favorite performers, meet some crazy people and take home plenty of dirt from the campsites.

Glastonbury is sold out, but other festivals and big tours still have tickets available. Try Lovebox 2009, the Reading Festival, Back to the 80s or one of the other dozens of events being held in the U.K. this summer.

Just FYI: Big Ben isn’t the name of the clock, it’s the big bell inside the clock. If you want to carry a bit of London around in your pocket, you can download a Big Ben ringtone for your phone.


Make Friends With Bill Bryson and CPRE

July 17, 2008

I super love Bill Bryson. He’s a wonderful author, a charming man, and probably one of the most good-hearted people on Earth. If more people showed his consideration for the planet, curiosity for other cultures, and appreciation for the life experiences that travel can give you, we’d be a much happier, healthier, friendly group of humans.

Now, through the power of Facebook, you can join Bill Bryson’s “Let’s be kind and do good things that help our countrysides and landscapes rather than crap on them, shall we?” team.

Oh, and that’s my slogan, not his. I don’t know that he would use the word “crap” in a team motto, although when I saw him at a reading in Boston a few years back, he did begin his talk with a more powerful four-letter word. Ah, how I enjoy his witty blended English-American sense of humor. 

Bill Bryson's African Diary

Bill Bryson's African Diary

Anyway, Mr. Bryson is currently working with the Campaign to Protect Rural England. It’s the kind of thing that locals usually get involved with, but just because you live in Toledo or Calgary or Perth doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care. What if you want to go visit rural England some day only to find it’s all been torn up and paved over? I imagine it’s the same way non-Americans feel when they visit U.S. National Parks and find them to be more smoggy and full of litter than the brochures make them look.

Which reminds me, you should read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Also, Down Under. Also, Notes From a Small Island. And of course, Bill Bryson’s African Diary, which benefits the non-profit CARE organization.

All other Bryson books are excellent as well, so read them too. Then loan them to your friends. Viva la Bryson revolution!