UK Day 3 – Cardiff and the Doctor Who Experience


Since I’m already in the United Kingdom I decided I might as well go to Cardiff and see the Doctor Who Experience! I love Doctor Who but I encountered so many problems before actually getting to the experience! First, I realized that I booked my ticket for 12:00 – 13:00 which was a bad idea because it takes around 3 – 4 hours just to get to Cardiff from the Victoria Coach Station. I decided to take the train which ended up costing more than 3 times more! Also, on my way to London Paddington, some lines in the Underground were being maintained so I had to reroute which added to my worries of being late for my too early time slot for my entry.

But there really was not much to worry about! I got to Cardiff at 10:30 am! Just  in time to get to Cardiff Bay and be there a few minutes before my time slot started. Makes me think I should have just taken the coach to save money. Then again, the scenic route that the train passed by was really beautiful and I did not feel the 3 hours I was on the train. Time seemed to pass by so quickly even if  was alone.

It was so cold even animals needed extra layers

It was a sunny day when I got to Cardiff which was a beautiful sight to see as I have not seen the sun since I got to London and I’m incredibly used to the sun. The Doctor Who Experience was AMAZING! Fans of the show will really enjoy the first part which was really a pleasant surprise. I won’t spoil it anymore but we weren’t allowed to take pictures during that event because they didn’t want to spoil it for those who will  attend in the future. It really was an experience.

The exhibit part of the experience was really cool. It showcased the different Doctors, Companions, and Aliens that were featured on the show since 1963! It was amazing that even the most recent companion, Oswin, who has not even appeared as companion (only as a guest character at that time) had her own display amongst the companions!

It was smaller than the Harry Potter Studio Tour but there was still a  lot to see that would make any fan explode with excitement.

After I was done with the Doctor Who Experience, which took my approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, I went off to Cardiff Bay. It was the perfect opportunity to visit the Wales Millennium Center, which is the front of TORCHWOOD 3, and the Ianto Jones Shrine which seems to still be receiving a healthy number of visitors since there are still flowers there that look fairly recent.

After going around the Doctor Who and Torchwood related sites, I jumped on a bus to the city. Funny story. I rode the bus to the city and had no idea where to go down so I ended up riding the bus all the way to is next route which was in Sports  City. It’s pretty cool though since I was still able to tour around Cardiff with the fare of a simple bus rather than paying a hefty amount to ride one of those tour buses.

Finally, I got down at Cardiff Castle, which is a beautiful castle that is well maintained inside and outside! The interior of the Castle remains to be beautiful. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take pictures because my camera battery died and I was preserving my phone battery for my 3 hour trip going back to London.

I was considering staying back in Cardiff for a night and returning the next day but I accidentally left my iPhone charger in my accommodations and so had no way to charge my phone when it died. It’s funny now that I think about it that  was more concerned about the battery of my iPhone than with the fact that I had no change of clothes with me that would allow me to stay in Cardiff for a night.

Left Cardiff Central Station at about 5:30 pm and got home by 9:00pm. It was an incredibly tiring (and expensive!!) day trip! I enjoyed every second of it and i don’t regret spending so much money on the tour. Not may people are able to say that they have ridden a TARDIS!

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UK Day 2 – Harry Potter Studio Tour

Being a huge and long time Harry Potter fan, the Studio tour was the first thing I booked after my flight, and i booked it for the day after I arrived because I know I needed as much energy I can use to maximize my visit. My accommodation is at the East side of London while Leavesden, where the Warner Brother Studios is located, is on the West so it was a bit of a long travel. I feel like I’ve already mastered the art of riding the tube in the two days that I have been here.

I got to Watford Junction just in time to catch the bus headed to the Warner Brothers Studios. It’s the easiest way to get there and you can’t miss the bus! It’s covered in Harry Potter!!

When you enter the studios, you’re greeted by giant portraits of the actors, a cafe to the left and the gift shop to the right (where I spent so much money on!!!) I joined the queue to enter and in no time I got in. You first have to go through two video showings before actually seeing the real studio. The first movie was mainly about the general success of Harry Potter with the fans. The second one got me crying, where the three main actors explained the purpose behind the studio tours and how it’s like a tribute to everyone behind the films who made the success possible. I think I reached my breaking point when Emma Watson said “(The crew) made the magic world real and our real world magical.”

 

Coffee and Harry Potter… two of my favorite things

 

After the film viewings we’re finally allowed into the studios. The first set that we see is the Great Hall which is indeed great. Although it does look smaller as compared to how it looks in the films, I really felt like I was in Hogwarts getting ready for supper with my house (Ravenclaw!!)

 

 

Once you get past the Great Hall, you enter a really big studio which contains the other sets used in the movie such as Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor dorm and Common Room, the interior of the Burrow, Umbridge’s Office, Hagrid’s Hut, etc. It also cotained several displays of props such as Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Rita Skeeter’s quill, the Goblet of Fire and some brooms! There was actually an area where you can ride a broom and fly around Hogwarts, the streets of London, the Great Lake (of course all via green screen).

 

The Studio Tour has two main studios indoor studios and is separated by an open area which contains even more of the props and scenes! This is where you can see the Hogwarts Bridge, #4 Privet Drive, Godric Hollow, the Knight Bus, the Grave of Tom Riddle Sr., and Sirius’ motorbike. They also serve butterbeer, which is really sweet and frothy, in this area and I really enjoyed it! I made friends with another solo traveler, a really sweet Korean girl and we decided we would take each other’s pictures around this area since we were allowed to pose on the props in this area.

 

 

The next area was the Monsters area! They showed the many different creatures that were made for the film and some videos on how they were made.   We got to pass through the actual Diagon Alley! I wish it was real so that I could go into each shop, get a wand, adopt a pet owl,  buy a broom, fit a robe. They also featured some of the paintings and scale models used to imagine how the scenes would look like.

 

 

 

Finally, and this was one of the most majestic sights I’ve seen, there was a really big and pretty model of the entire Hogwarts Castle! It’s really beautiful and you know that they’ve done a lot of work to perfect it! Wow.

 

The tour ends in the gift shop where I got some things for myself and for my Harry Potter fan friends. A lot of wonderful things to see. I wanted to buy a stuffed Hippogriff but I wouldn’t have any space for it in my baggage!

I really think every Potter fan should make it a point to visit the Harry Potter Studio at least once in their lifetime. It’s an amazing experience and you could really see all the hard work everyone put into making the amazing world of Harry Potter come to life! It took me almost four hours just to go through the entire thing! There was so many things to see! I would definitely want to go back if given the chance!! But for now I’m just happy I was given the chance to actually experience the whole thing first hand!

UK Day 1

After months of anticipation, the date of my trip to the United Kingdom had finally arrived! I had been incredibly paranoid and anxious about the trip for the past week and I’m just glad that everything worked out well. I was the first person to line up in the UK Border. I had read so many horror stories about being denied entry even if you have a visa. Thank God that went smoothly and I managed to get through border control and out of the airport by 10:30am!

The first adventure I experienced today was riding the tube for the first time! I took the tube going to my accommodations since taking a taxi would cost too much.

I got to the house at 12:30 pm and finally met Victoria! She’s really sweet and accommodating! The house is pretty and comfortable (and not at all expensive!). Victoria gave me a lot of tips on how to get around the area and where the good places to eat are! She left some pamphlets from restaurants in my room so I can go through them. I guess the reviews on Airbnb were accurate!

After settling in, I went out again to explore the city! It’s freezing cold and my sweater and boots still didn’t give me enough warmth! I was hungry so I decided to go to Borough Market.

I ended up buying dessert there instead because I couldn’t choose from all the good food in the area! I ended up having stuffed chicken with bleu cheese from a restaurant called Tapas Brindisa. Yum.

After eating, I decided to do some more walking. There was so many to explore and I’m sure my 12 days here won’t be enough for that! I decided to hop on the tube and just decide where I’m going once I’m inside.  I decided to go to Green Park and visit Buckingham Palace!

I found a couple that was struggling to take a picture of the two of them with Green Park as the background so I offered to help them and so they offered to take my picture in return! Reciprocity is nice! (Note: I don’t exactly like what I was wearing today. I was a bit excited to start exploring so I just threw anything on!)
I kept walking until I realized I was already in West End and that’s when I
really felt that my feet were aching already. I decided to go home. I forgot it was rush hour so I experienced  my first London rush hour in the tube! It wasn’t as bad as people claim it is. Then again, I experienced the MRT in the Philippines during rush hour so I guess large crowds in trains don’t faze me anymore.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Leavesden for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It’s on the other side of London so I have to go to sleep early. I’m incredibly tired from my walk home. I got so lost on my way home. Lesson learned. Will take the cab from Walthamstow station every day now!

On having kids one day

I think the biggest proof that I really do want to have kids some day is the fact that I work with (and watch over) almost 50 five year olds everyday and that is the part of my job that I love the most. I have always wanted to have kids and honestly my greatest fear is to go through life without having experienced the joy of having my own child. I know I’m being dramatic about this. I was just talking to Vida about how legitimately scared I was of the thought of growing old without the chance of having a child of my own.

She called me praning for this, but I’m known to be a television addict who lives in TV Land. Two of my favorite television characters, who both wanted desperately to have kids, had issues with having kids. Granted, these are all fictional stories, their stories really got to me and it really hit me hard that there’s a possibility that someone like me who was really set in a life with kids may not actually be blessed with one.

Photographic memories

 

Last week, I finally downloaded all my pictures from multiply. There were several “What was I thinking” moments in there, but generally it was a very nostalgic experience. I don’t know how many times I’ve lost my pictures because my hard drive crashed or I accidentally deleted a file or I just lost the CD that it was in so I decided to select some of the pictures of really good memories and print them out to include them in an album or maybe even a scrapbook if I’m not lazy. When I was younger I loved flipping through the pages of old photo albums so why can’t I do that with my recent pictures? At least now I don’t need to access facebook or go through my documents just so I can go through my old pictures. 🙂 Yesterday, I went to the mall with my brother and printed out a few pictures that I chose from multiply just to check out how I feel about it and then I realized that it makes me feel good to have a physical photograph that I could hold in my hand while I reminisce the fun days I had in college.