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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harry Potter and The Journey Around The World 11.10.10

With the excitement of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows coming out next week, I wanted to dedicate my blog to the many wonders and sites of the Harry Potter world. Of course, this does not mean my whole blog will be about London, especially since many people may not have the funds to visit there, even if they want to go. If you are new here, take a minute to subscribe to my blog on the right, for instant updates!

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What’s your favorite Harry Potter memory? Well, I have several, but one of my favorite things is the Knight Bus. Invisible to muggle eyes, the triple-decker bus weaves through traffic and crosses the English countryside super fast. While it doesn’t exist and we can’t actually ride on it – not to mention that there is no such thing as a triple-decker bus – you can take a double-decker bus tour almost anywhere you live. (Just Google: double-decker bus tour and the city you are interested in.) Most are hop-on, hop-off tours, where they have multiple stops and you can get off and get back on at your leisure. These can be as little as only $20 per person.

Another awesome thing going around the country (and probably to other countries soon) is Harry Potter: The Exhibition. Now at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle until the end of January, it will be making its way to other locations. Sign up for their newsletter to get information. The Exhibition brings real props from the movies, including Hagrid’s hut, wardrobe and the Hogwart’s Express. People who have seen it say that it’s amazing and shouldn’t be missed by a true Harry Potter fan, which if you can’t tell, I am. I’ll be heading up in January to set my eyes on this amazing exhibit and get all giddy over being so close to a part of the last decade of movie history.

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Too excited to wait to see the Harry Potter Exhibit? Why not make a trip to Orlando? Visit Universal Islands of Adventure and experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Stroll the town of Hogsmeade, visit Hogwarts on your way to the front of the line on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, meet Buckbeak on Flight of the Hippogriff, have a wand choose you with a visit to Ollivander’s, stop for a pumpkin juice and Cornish pasties in the Three Broomsticks and grab a frozen butterbeer (so much better than the cold butterbeer, in my opinion) on your way to the Triwizard Tournament’s Dueling Dragons. Sadly, there are only three rides, a few very short shows and only a handful of shops, but if you love Harry Potter, it is worth the trip to immerse yourself in all things magical. Get yourself a wand and practice your spells on other park patrons when you wait in line for other rides, like The Hulk and Spiderman.

Now’s the time to visit Orlando, because tourism is down with the kids in school. If you travel over the Winter break, try to hit up Islands of Adventure on a weekday. The lines will be much shorter and you’ll be able to get to everything without needing to spend money on a front of the line pass (which doesn’t work on HP and the Forbidden Journey anyway, the new most popular ride in the whole park).

Purchase the Eatandplaycard for Orlando and get discounts off car rentals (which is a must), dining and shopping.

Stay at the amazing Quality Inn Royale Parc Suites for as little as $62/night. All rooms are suites and have a lot of space. The bedroom is far from the sitting room, so if someone is still awake, they won’t disturb anyone trying to sleep, free park shuttles (though they don’t run all day, like you would expect…and this is true for all Orlando hotels in the area.), flat-screen TVs, free breakfast, rooms have a nice dining area and kitchen to help save some on your food budget, and are close to restaurants and other things, like Walgreens and miniature golf! The pool is beautiful, they have “cocktail” hour, a convenient store and BBQ grills available for guest use. Book by 11/14 for travel through May 2011.
Fall and Winter is also a great time to make a trip to Europe. Hermione went on a ski vacation with her parents over Christmas vacation there and you can find the Beauxbaton School of Witchcraft somewhere in France. While you probably won’t encounter any Veela, you will encounter breathtaking scenery and amazing food. If you are going to visit Paris, make sure you purchase a Paris Pass. It’s the best sightseeing card out there and can save you a bundle on Parisian attractions like museums, river cruises and wine tasting. It comes with a fantastic guidebook, lets you skip box office lines and includes unlimited Metro, RER and bus travel within the city.

Ron and the rest of the Weasley clan live on the outskirts of a wizarding town called Ottery St. Catchpole. Sad as I am to find out this town doesn’t really exist, I did find that Devon (the county in which the non-existent town supposedly resides) is an amazing place to visit. It’s the only place in England to have two coasts. Many famous names have come from Devon, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Agatha Christie, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Joss Stone. You can visit to see the Jurassic Coast, which consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs. There are also lovely beaches to visit, where you can surf, dive, kitesurf and boat. There’s hiking, tour Darthmouth Castle right on the water, visit Pennywell Farm with their miniature pigs and, of course, there’s always shopping.

There are many places to stay in Devon, including a wide selection of apartments and vacation homes where you can cook your own meals and come and go as you please. Check out affordable options like the Atlantis Holiday Apartments, Garway Lodge Guest House and Barramore Holiday Apartments HERE. There are also amazingly affordable options on Superbreak…starting at less than $15/per person per night.

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Viktor Krum, world famous Quidditch player, and the rest of the Durmstrang students can be found in Russia…maybe. Though it’s not quite clear, because they like to keep their school secrets, well, secret. Have a great time tromping through Moscow and St. Petersburg and watching the sky for any escaping Romanian dragons on this 6 night vacation that includes RT airfare, hotel accommodations, flight between Moscow and St. Petersburg, daily breakfast and taxes. From only $1126 per person, this a must for anyone hoping to make it to Russia soon. This price is good for travel in February 2011, but other dates are available.

Hermione modified her parents’ memories in between Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, so they would go into hiding in Australia without knowing what they were doing and not remember they had a daughter in case something happened while she was hunting horcruxes to defeat You-Know-Who with Harry and Ron. Luckily, you are safe from the Dark Lord, but if your lifelong ambition is also to go to Australia, you can do so a lot less expensively than before! Find round-trip flights for as little as $750 on Virgin Atlantic or bid on Australia vacation packages through SkyAuction for huge discounts!

This month is British Appreciation Month. For those hoping to get some insight into London, please view my guest post on Jetsetera.net on how to save money traveling to and around the city. Soon, you will also be able to catch a similar, but completely different, article on My Itchy Travel Feet. Stay tuned for news on that. You can also see my other guest posting ventures on the following sites:

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For those of you still waiting for my budget travel book to hit shelves, please don’t be discouraged. I am still trying to find just the right publisher/agent to take my work and give it the final push to publishing. I’ve got some good responses, but no takers yet. I’ll keep you updated!

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