Category Archives: Travel

A Visit to Harry Potter World Studio Tour Part I

We received tickets to Harry Potter World Studio Tour from one of G’s cousins as our wedding gift. I was thrilled as I read all seven books and watched every single movie that was adapted from the books. We had intended to visit during the holidays in December but alas, they were fully booked/sold out! I tried calling again in January and was told that all weekends until March were booked. However, while I was on the phone with the agent, someone else canceled and we were lucky enough to take their spot for the same weekend! Needless to say, if you plan on visiting, please book in advance!

The Harry Potter World Studio Tour is located in Watford Junction, just outside of London. We took a 20-minute train from Euston in London to Watford Junction for £10.20 per person. Once at the station, there were plenty of signs to guide us to the shuttle bus that runs from Watford Junction to Harry Potter World Studio Tour. It was £2 for a return ticket on the shuttle bus and it took about 15 minutes to get to the Harry Potter World Studio Tour from the train station. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Mullany coach bus to Harry Potter World Studio TourThe shuttle bus that runs from Watford Junction to the Harry Potter World Studio Tour

Upon arrival, we were to redeem our tickets at the Ticket counter near the entrance. We were told to redeem our tickets no later than 30 minutes before the starting time of our tour.

Harry Potter World Studio TourEntrance to Harry Potter World Studio Tour

Once we redeemed our tickets, we went into the Studio and wandered around the gift shop since we have a bit of time. There was a lot of memorabilia from the movies sold in the gift shop ranging from jewelry, clothing, toys, books, to food.

Harry Potter World Studio Tour Gift Shop StoreFloating candles in the gift shop store Harry Potter World Studio TourCandies, sweets, chocolate at Harry Potter World Studio Tour

As expected, the gift shop was busy given it was a weekend and we just browsed the store without purchasing anything. We then left to get a quick bite at the cafeteria before the start of our tour. The food was decent and overpriced as most tourist places are. There was also a Starbucks on site inside the Studio. After our refreshing ourselves with some food, we stood in line for the start of our tour.

Professor McGonagall, Weasleys, Moody Mad EyeFlying Car Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets Ford AngliaHarry Potter Closet Bedroom Studio TourCloset Staircase Harry Potter Bedroom Studio Tour

The tour then officially begins past a set of tours with a short film about Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Once the film ends, the screen is lifted to reveal the great doors to the Great Hall.

Doors to the Great Hall Harry Potter World Studio TourGreat Hall Harry Potter World Studio Tour

Once inside the Great Hall, one will find sets, costumes, and props lined along the walls with occasional screens of interviews with directors and producers.

Hufflepuff Great HallRavenclaw in the Great HallSlytherin in the Great HallGryffindor in Great HallRuben Hagrid Harry Potter Studio TourDumbledore in the Great HallSeverus Snape in the Great HallMinerva McGonagall in the Great HallMad Eye MoodyStart of term chocolate feastStart of term chocolate feast from Goblet of FireYule Ball Harry PotterYule Ball from Goblet of FireHair costumes Harry Potter WorldMake up and hairGryffindor Boys DormitoryGryffindor Boy’s DormitoryPortraits in HogwartsPortraits in Hogwarts that were painted after crew staff membersChamber of Secrets Snake DoorSnake door from Chamber of SecretsWizarding Money GoldGalleon (gold), sickle (silver) and knuts (bronze)Harry Potter letters The letters from Philosopher’s Stone

After going through all the elaborate and impressive sets in Studio J (the first of the two studios), I was eager to get some refreshments. Well, what else would be served other than Butterbeer at the refreshments corner?

Butterbeer Harry Potter Studio Tour

G and I both bought a small cup of Butterbeer for £2.95 each. I have been really eager to try it since I have heard good things about it. I wasn’t disappointed! It’s frothy, creamy and just delicious. If you like rootbeer floats, you’ll love Butterbeer. Sadly for G, he took a sip and disliked it, so I was left with two cups of Butterbeer to enjoy in all its glory! Woohoo! 😉

Butterbeer at Harry Potter World Studio TourCheers! (For details of outfit, click here)

There are more pictures to share but I’ll end the post here for now and will resume the second part in an upcoming post! Hope you enjoyed the pictures by far! 🙂

Travel – Amsterdam, Netherlands Part III

I’m finally on the last installment of my trip to Amsterdam! (Read Part I and Part II.) On our last day, we started the day by heading to the Van Gogh Museum. I had previously gone one afternoon while G was at work but the long lines deterred me from entering. There are separate entrances for those who have a pass or have purchased a ticket in advance but even those lines barely moved. I stood in line for 10 minutes before deciding to come back on another day. So on our final day, we were at the Van Gogh Museum by 9.30am and we were in the museum in a jiffy. We bought G an advanced ticket and I redeemed my Tulip ticket for the entrance. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

The line to Van Gogh MuseumPart of the long line on a weekday afternoon in Fall

I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing when it comes to art and visiting the Van Gogh Museum was a good insight into the famous artist’s life and work. Unlike most talented individuals, Van Gogh was not a gifted artist. He studied and experimented a lot in order to create the level of art that he did. He’s truly inspirational to those of us who dream or aspire to pursue a different path in life. Perseverance and determination, anyone? Okay, I digress… Well, if you are hoping to spot the Starry Night in the museum, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. The famous painting is housed in MoMa in New York. That however, doesn’t make a visit to the Van Gogh Museum any less valuable and I highly recommend it to those visiting Amsterdam.

After the Van Gogh Museum, G and I took a canal cruise as friends of ours highly recommended that as a great way to tour Amsterdam. Without researching in advance, we purchased tickets at one of the many tour operators near Central Station. Our cruise was operated by the Lovers Company and we had bought tickets for a Museum Line Hop On-Hop Off tour without realizing it (the only choice for canal cruise was one hour or two)! Our two hour tour had one too many stops for people to alight and the tour was nothing but a recording as our captain/guide barely added anything. While I think it was a canal cruise is great suggestion, I would highly advise picking a different company or tour.

Lovers Company Canal CruiseBoat Houses along Amsterdam CanalAmstelhotel AmsterdamReplica of the VOC vessel NEMO Science MuseumThe EYE Film InstituteMovenpick hotel Muziekgebouw Music CentreCantilever Buildings in AmsterdamCruise Ship AmsterdamFrankBeekwilder

During our trip, we ate at two restaurants that I would highly recommend. One is an Italian restaurant that serves great pizzas. (G has a travel rule where he has to eat pizza in every country he visits!) The food was inexpensive (entrees ranged from €6- €20) and according to G the pizza connoisseur, it was quite good. The pesto pasta that I had was decent and filling.

Pizzeria Toscana B.V.
Haarlemmerstraat 130,
1013 EX Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 622 0353

The other restaurant that I recommend is one that we stumbled upon, a Malaysian restaurant. As a Malaysian, I can vouch for the authenticity of the curry laksa. It was quite good and talking about it now makes me hungry! G had General Tso’s chicken and he enjoyed it. (Granted, take this with a grain of salt as they likely may not obtain all the actual ingredients but it was still quite good.)

Nyonya Malaysia Express
Kloveniersburgwal 38,
1012 CW Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 422 2447

All in all, we had a great time in Amsterdam and I most definitely look forward to visiting again soon!

Travel – The Hague, Netherlands

On the last leg of our day trip (part one, part two), we adjourned to The Hague, the seat of the government of Netherlands. We were driven around to see embassies and we did a quick pit stop at the Peace Palace before finally proceeding to Madurodam. If we had a choice, we would have happily skipped going around the embassies (nothing spectacular) and instead opt to spend more time at Madurodam since we had only very little time there.

Madurodam is a miniature park comprised of various famous Dutch places ranging from castles to public buildings, and transportation. It is absolutely fantastic (very interactive!) and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Netherlands. As someone who loves miniature models, I lit up as soon as I stepped into the magical world of miniatures. (G can attest to that!) (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Tram in The HagueTram near the Peace Palace

Peace Palace NetherlandsPeace Palace

World Peace Flame in The Hague

Hansje Brinker at Madurodam
Map of Madurodam, The Hague

Kinderdijk Madurodam

MadurodamMadurodamHet Loo Palace and National Museum MadurodamBasilica of Sint-Jan MadurodamRound the Sting Madurodam

Hotel Des Indes MadurodamMadurodam Mill "De Palmboom" in Schiedam MadurodamRijksmuseum MadurodamConcert Gebouw MadurodamThe Hague Peace Palace in MadurodamTrain tracks MadurodamAmsterdam Schipol AirportAmsterdam Schipol Airport MadurodamAmsterdam Schipol Airport MadurodamCrane Operator MadurodamShip in Madurodam

What I failed to capture in my snaps are the moving transportation throughout Madurodam. It’s fascinating to watch as the vehicles move around the miniature city. (Think mechanical trains on a train track for Xmas displays but in a grander scale!) Sadly, we ended up spending less time than anticipated at Madurodam as our tour guide thought the park was closing later than it was. 🙁 I would definitely love to come back for another visit in the future. There’ll be one more post coming soon to round up my trip to the Netherlands!

Travel – Delft, Netherlands

From Rotterdam (posted here), we boarded our tour bus and headed to Delft. Our first stop was the Royal Delft Pottery. We were given a tour of pottery which included beautiful exhibits followed by a tour of the factory. Aside from seeing some of the artists at work, we were also able to view a demonstration on how the beautiful pottery is made from the scratch.(WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Royal Delft Blue Netherlands

Royal Delft Blue Tiles

Royal Delft Plates

Royal Delft Blue China

Royal Delft Blue Painting

Clogs Royal Delft Blue

Artisan painting Royal Delft Blue ChinaOne of the artists at work

Royal Delft 2013 Christmas OrnamentsThe black ink turns blue after the heating process to seal the ink

Painted Tiles in Royal Delft BlueProcess of staining Royal Delft BlueMaking of Royal Delft tiles

Making of Royal Delft vaseMaking of Royal Delft vases

Royal Delft Blue China

Miffy Royal Delft Blue

Royal Delft Blue ChinaPretty porcelain items that one can purchase as souvenirs

After the tour of Royal Delft Pottery, we were taken to Markt, the main square in Delft also known as the market square. We were given a few hours (less than 3 hours, if I recall correctly) to have lunch and explore the town center. Our tour guide recommended visiting the Oude and Nieuwe Kerk, Old and New Church in the main square. There is a tower in the Nieuwe Kerk  that one can climb to get a bird’s eye view of Delft. G and I however, opted to take a leisurely walk in the main square checking out stores instead as we didn’t want to rush ourselves up and down the tower.

Delft New Church

Delft Town Hall Stadhuis

Delft Town Hall StadhuisDelft Town Hall (Stadhuis)

Royal Delftware Store

Cheese & More in Markt Delft

Delft China

Miffy magnets

Canal in Delft

Canal in Delft

Fall leaves

We enjoyed visiting Delft and would have loved to spend more time there. Alas, as with every tour group, time is limited so we had to reconvene and head to The Hague, our last stop of the tour. Stay tuned for the next post on The Hague! 🙂

Travel – Rotterdam, Netherlands

As mentioned in the previous travel post here, G and I took a quick one day trip in the Netherlands after his conference ended. Our trip included visiting Rotterdam, Delft, and The Hague. (I’ll be blogging about each place in its own post.) We paid approximately $70 per person for the trip through Viator which included transportation and entrance tickets to Euromast and Madurodam.

Our first stop was the Euromast in Rotterdam. the second tallest building in Rotterdam. (The tallest building is KPN-Zendmast Waalhaven, a communications tower that is less well-known.)  The Euromast is symbolic to Rotterdam as the Eiffel Tower is symbolic to Paris. Here are some snaps to share of our journey from Amsterdam to the Euromast in Rotterdam. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Windmill in Netherlands

Rotterdam Cube House Dwellings Kubuswoning
View from Euromast
View of Erasmus Bridge Erasmusbrug

Shipping and Transport College Group STC Rotterdam Netherlands

View from Euromast  KPN-toren Waalhaven

New Ocean Paradise Hotel and Restaurant Rotterdam

Poseidon and Neptunus

The SS Rotterdam at the Grand Harbour

Westerlaantoren Nieuwe Werk Luxury Apartments

There is a revolving restaurant on the Euromast where one can wine and dine overlooking Rotterdam. As it wasn’t a part of our tour, we did not stop on the level where the restaurant is located. We did however stop by at the deli on the ground floor while awaiting the rest of our tour members.

Euromast Deli menu

While G and I were tempted to order some desserts, we sadly didn’t have enough time! We had to return to our tour bus in a few minutes and the long line to place an order at the deli didn’t help. Oh well, we were whisked off to Delft next and that’ll be the next travel post! 🙂