Besides September 10, July 4, December 25, and whatever eight days Hannukah falls on this year (but probably only one of those days because the other seven when you don’t have a party aren’t that cool), November 19 is my favorite day. No, it wasn’t Thanksgiving or one of the millions of holidays Spaniards take off from school/work. It was the premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.
My obsession with Harry Potter began at age 11 when I read the first book. Harry Potter is also 11 in the first book, so we hit it off great. Basically, I grew up with Harry. Harry and I have a lot in common. We both go to school, play sports, and occassionally toss around a spell or two. The only thing Harry and I don’t have in common is the fact that his best friend is a ginger. Oh, and I guess I don’t have a lightening scar from when the Dark Lord killed my parents and tried to kill me. No big.
Anyways, I got the opportunity to go to London for the opening weekend of the movie. One of Paige’s friends, Rachel, is studying in London, so Paige and I went to visit. Rachel and her friend Alice (who is actually British) visited Barcelona a month or so ago, so I was excited to hang out with them again.
The weekend actually started in Leeds, which is about a 2-3 hour train ride outside of London. Alice goes to school in London, but she is actually from Leeds. Paige and I flew into Leeds and Alice and Rachel met us there. Not only is Leeds absolutely adorable and beautiful (so much green), we also got to spend time with a real British family. When we got to Alice’s house, named “The Orangery”, we had dinner waiting for us. Sheperd’s Pie. Not a joke.
After dinner, we went out to meet her brother at a bar. As it turns out, this bar was a promotional party type thing for Absolut. It was also the strangest thing ever. The event was a cross between a haunted house, labyrinth, ping pong court, art studio, and ballroom. I’ll do my best to explain…
First we walk in from outside under a shower type thing. We had umbrellas. I didn’t get it. It was also approximately -20 degrees outside. The event took place in some sort of warehouse. The room we walked into was divided by a tall white sheet reaching from floor to ceiling. We were brought into the next room one at a time. Of course, I was the last one that gets picked. I was terrified. I don’t know why…It was a promotional party for alcohol, not a cult party for Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Behind the curtain was a type of maze thing with moving mirrors. It wasn’t scary. Just weird. Our next barracade was a hallway that was transformed into an obstacle course. You had to climb through these ropes to get through. It was like in those action movies where some Angelina Jolie type character has to make it through the green lazers without touching them or she sets off the security alarm…except I’m not Angelina Jolie, nor am I a secret agent. I was just a girl in a cocktail dress and stilletos climbing through rope.
Then we get to play in a band with a Jamaican man. He played trash can drums and we all got our own instruments. He sensed my musical talents, so he gave me the best instrument…the plastic egg filled with beads. Then we proceeded to play Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it Like It’s Hot”…I told you the night was weird.
We then moved into a sketching room. I’m in a sketching class in Barcelona, so I was thrilled to share my talents with the novices. After making my very own Piccasso (cubism style, of course), we moved on to play ping pong. Finally we were escorted out of the bar by ballroom dancers. And thus began our night in Leeds…
A few bars later, we all came back to The Orangery. We woke up the next morning to an actual British breakfast with the family including tea. The Boothroyds are amazing.
We hopped on our train to London, and as I’m fervishly finishing the seventh Harry Potter book (took me 4 days), I realized our train was going to pull into King’s Cross. *pause for scream of excitement*
So if you didn’t take part in that excitement scream, you must not realize that King’s Cross Station is the train station that the Hogwarts Express departs from. As soon as we pulled in, I pulled out my camera. I might have taken more pictures of King’s Cross than I did of the Eiffel Tower…that obsessed. Alice realized my excitement and informed me that they actually have a Platform 9 ¾ built in the station. I got to take a picture next to it and everything…dream come true.
We spent the next 48 hours trying to see everything possible in London. We made it to the London Eye, The Tower of London, The London Bridge, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden, and some other places I can’t remember right now. We had to sacrifice seeing Buckingham Palace to make it to Harry Potter…fair trade. Basically it just means that I have to go back to London in my life. I’m not complaining. Saturday was quite the “magical” day. After a day of sightseeing, we went straight from Harry Potter to the most incredible musical in the world – Wicked. AMAZING.
There are a few things I realized after being in London – I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to be in an English speaking country. It was so refreshing, but also odd. I didn’t understand why the guy selling us Wicked tickets kept talking…couldn’t he just give us our tickets so we could leave? Then I realized talking to people like the ticket guy, waiters, the lady in line next to you…that’s normal.
Oh, and you know the guy at the bar that’s kind of old and a little too drunk and says semi inappropriate things?? That guy you call creepy and get away from stat?? When that guy has a British accent, he’s just funny and harmless.
Then there’s the fact that they close pubs at midnight. In Barcelona, we’re normally finishing up dinner at midnight. Not in London. Instead, they just go straight from work to happy hour. Basically they’re drunk by 7 pm.
Oh, and for all of you YouTube fans, there was a little British boy on the London Eye named Charlie. His sisters kept saying his name in their adorable British accents. I considered whispering to Charlie to bite his sister’s finger, but I wasn’t sure if that crossed any sort of line. I don’t have a British accent, so I can’t get away with saying creepy things. Bummer.
I was pretty bummed to have to leave at the end of the weekend. I didn’t expect to love London as much as I did. The Christmas lights, the cosmopolitan city, the people, the energy…it was fantastic. I could actually picture myself living there – especially if Harry Potter hangs out with me regularly.