As some of you know, I went to London last weekend, so instead of posting about a book I’ve have decided that there was some things I wanted to tell you about my trip instead. I just hope that it doesn’t make you too jealous.
All of the Potterheads who follow this blog will know that Kings Cross is an important place for Harry Potter. It is where every Hogwarts student goes to catch the Hogwarts Express to school every September from Platform 9 3/4. It’s also where we first meet the Weasley family, who everyone knows is the BEST wizarding family in the world, and where we get to see Professor Dumbledore one last time. So I just couldn’t go to London without going to Kings Cross train station.
If you ever get to go there, the outside of the station doesn’t look anything like it does in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film (the only time we see the outside on screen). This is because what we see in the movie is actually the outside of St. Pancras International train station (that’s right, Britain has an international train station even though it’s an island, those very clever Muggles built The Channel Tunnel to connect Britain and France/mainland Europe by train). St. Pancras is literally right next door to Kings Cross, and the filmmakers thought that St. Pancras looked prettier, so they used that instead. Don’t ask me why there are two train stations right next door to each other, it’s a long winded story going back to Victorian times, that will only interest History and train nerds. You can get there really easily by Tube (It’s what Londoners call the London Underground). You want the Kings Cross/St. Pancras stop on the Victoria, Northern Line, Piccadilly, Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City, and Circle Lines of the tube (It’s a major interchange).
While this is what Kings Cross actually looks like:
If you go to Kings Cross, follow the Muggle signs for Platforms 9-11, and next to the ticket barriers (like you see Harry and Mr. Weasley use in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) you’ll find two things that a Potterhead will love.
The first is this:
It is a trolley made to look as though it’s disappearing through the wall to Platform 9 3/4, and you can have a photo taken to look like your on your way to catch the Hogwarts Express like this random Muggle tourist is doing:
I’m guessing they have put this here, rather than between platforms 9 and 10, because you need a Muggle train ticket to get onto the platform. This way tourists can visit it without having to pay for a ticket they don’t want (train tickets in the UK are very expensive if you don’t book them far in advance). Once upon a time, you could just go up to the trolley and get whoever you are with to take a photo of you with it, but now you have to queue up and have it taken by a photographer and pay for the photo, which is a real shame, because it was just a little bit of fun for us Potterheads. The only way around it is to be a little sneaky; while the photographer is taking the photo, get someone to stand to the side and take one at the same time like I am doing. The reason this has changed is because there is now this:
It’s a Harry Potter shop, and is my new most favourite shop in the world!!!!!!!!!!!! (This is where you collect and pay for the photo with the trolley.) It is full of official Harry Potter merchandise; including wands, brooms, Quidditch jumpers, school jumpers, scarfs, mugs, Chocolate Frogs, Bertie’s Every Flavour Beans, autographs from the Harry Potter cast and so much more. I brought Luna’s wand, a Ravenclaw mug, and a Chocolate Frog (which came with a Chocolate Frog Card, mine was Professor Quirrell).
These are now my most prized possessions (apart from the Chocolate Frog, which was eaten about a second after I took the photo), and I’ve threatened to use the wand to perform the Cruciatus Curse on anyone who touches them. If you don’t have much money of your own, bug your parents to buy you something, just be prepared to bargain with them if you want something expensive, such as promising to do extra chores for a week. The shop has a website called www.harrypotterplatform934.com and I think they do international shipping (some of their products are from the Noble Collection, so you can also find some of this stuff on their website).
I also went to see St. Paul’s Cathedral, which kind of reminds me of Gringotts, and less than a minutes walk away from it is the Millennium Bridge (which leads to the Tate Modern art gallery for anyone who is interested). The Millennium Bridge is the bridge that gets blown up by the Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. You need the St. Paul’s stop on the Central Line of the Tube if you want to go here. It’s also only a short walk to Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, The Shard, and The Gherkin, if you want to see any of these tourist attractions.
(I didn’t take these two photos, but they are better than the ones I took. I gave no idea who did take them though, as I found them on the internet.)
If you go to London, follow this link before you go www.empireonline.com/features/harry-potter-travel-guide It is a guide to Harry Potter related places to visit in London. A good walking tour of London is with a company called Footprint Tours (who also do walking tours of other UK cities). You can find them online at www.walkingtours.london You can of course also go on an open top bus tour like in most major cities around the world.
I wanted to visit the Leavesden Studios where the films were made, but because my trip was short notice I couldn’t get any tickets. You have to book your tickets in advance via the website (you can’t just buy them when you get here), and as it is a very popular attraction you need to book them a long time before hand. I was disappointed, but I hope that next time I go to London I will get to go.
And if you go to London around Christmas and New Years, visit the Christmas Wonderland in Hyde Park. It’s not Harry Potter related, but it is such a great place. It has a rather large fun fair, an ice rink, a circus, and Santa Land, as well as a large German Christmas Market. I found a little carved owl which remind me of my owl on Pottermore which I brought. I also saw some massive carvings being made which were really cool. You want the Hyde Park Corner stop on the Piccadilly line of the Tube.
And if you do live in or near London, The British Museum (which is a great place to visit if you are in London, and mostly free apart from a few small exhibits) currently has a competition to spend a whole night in the museum. It is in connection with the release of The Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. You can visit the website for more details at www.britishmuseum.org
Lunar Kitty and Arabella, I also had some Dutch Pancakes and thought of you both.
Saffron, I saw this horse outside St. James Palace and thought of you.
Lastly, I saw these at Victoria Train/Tube station, and thought you guys might like to see them. 🙂
I know that was a long post, but I hope you enjoyed reading it. 🙂 The photo at the beginning is of The London Eye, taken from London Bridge, which is a bridge Harry Potter crosses in the Knight Bus in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wild.