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Friday, April 13, 2012

London - Ancient, Where East Meets West and Time Begins, and an Inspiration for the Imagination

We took a private tour of Stonehenge.  We went early in the morning (think before dawn) and were there before it was open to the public.  Generally the public must stay quite far back from the stones, but we got to walk right among them.  Very cool.  Very very cool actually.

We happened to have incredibly cold and windy weather, but the sun was shining, once it was time for the sun to be awake.

How many folks get this picture?  Under one of the stone arches?

Casting my shadow on Stonehenge.

We spent a day in Greenwich, and went to the Royal Observatory.  Where East meets West.  Where time begins.

OK, so probably lots of people have this picture.  Well, a version of it anyway.  I don't think many other people have this actual picture.

The views from the Observatory were amazing.  This is looking towards the City through the Queen's House at University of Greenwich.

Inside the Observatory...

You'd only have this shot if you were taking it at the same time that we were.  Lots of Olympic references throughout London.  

Also in Greenwich is the National Maritime Museum.  Lots of interesting stuff there... also a lot of schoolchildren.  A lot of schoolchildren.

This is Prince Frederick's barge. This was built around 1732 for Prince Frederick, eldest son of King George II. The measurement is about 19.2m (63 ft) long and is the largest object in the National Maritime Museum.

We toured the University of Greenwich's Painted Hall.  This is an amazing room!

One of the most fun discoveries we made this trip was London Walks.  For only a few pounds (or a few more dollars), we were able to join a guided tour of one of London's many interesting sights.

We did a Deathly Hallows Tour - this is the summary: Celebrate the release of the thrilling seventh film with London Walks' very own Harry Potter expert, let alone uber fan! Kontiki Richard leads you through the most magical bits of old London. The wizard's bank. A fantastical mansion where we'll relive the last tortured moments of Charity Burbage. A gas-lit courtyard packed with Potter atmosphere and twice used by the Harry Potter production team. It's a walk laced with tales of good and evil, magic and legend. all of it wovenround the elder Wand, the Cloak of Invisibility, the Resurrection Stone and, of course, the Horcruxes.

Here are some of the things we saw....

This is where they held the release of the 6th book, and the inspiration for the Great Hall in the movies.  It is at Temple College (near the Temple Church, which you may recognize from another movie, The DaVinci Code).  

Though most of the movies were filmed outside of London, this building, The Royal Courts of Justice, were the inspiration for Hogwarts.

Leadenhall Market was used to represent the area near Diagon Alley in the movies.

This is one of the places thought to have inspired JK Rowling's Leaky Cauldron... the part that the Muggles could see at any rate.

This is Australia House.  They filmed the scenes for Gringot's Bank in the lobby here.  You can't tell from this picture, but if you could see it, you would swear that there should be goblins behind the counters!

You'll recognize this from the 6th movie - this is the Millenium Bridge that the death eaters destroyed at the beginning of the movie.

And this - though not in London - is the house in which Harry Potter lived when he was a baby, and the one in which his parents were killed by Voldemort.  It is in Lacock, an hour or so outside of the City.

I hope you are enjoying my memories of London.  Tomorrow I'll show you some things you probably have not seen, even if you have been to London many times!


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  1. What a trip! And a private tour of Stonehenge--that must have been amazing. Even in a crowded tour, there was a spooky kind of energy palpable there.
    Thanks for showing your photos!

  2. Wow! You had an amazing trip. I'm impressed you were able to get tickets to amazingly memorable events--Stonehenge, the Keys--and track down some great Potter locales too. If I ever get lucky enough to go across the Pond, you'll be the first one I ask for advice on what to see!

  3. VERY INTERESTING! LOVE your pictures of Stonehenge! The picture of the arch is awesome. We were able to get pretty close when we were there last time, but it sounds like they are keeping the public back farther now. I bought an incredible long book called Sarum, I believe. It was very good, but you have to like to read! We also visited pre-Harry Potter, so DANG! I just have to go back there now! I loved those books!