Before coming to London I didn't really believe in magic. Sure, I enjoy the occasional card trick and I've seen every Harry Potter movie at least three times, but this all seemed like fiction to me. However, since coming to London my belief has changed. I've been here for about a month now and I have experienced some of the most magical things that I never knew I would experience in my lifetime.
Magical Moment #1:
It all started with our trip to the Warner Brothers Studios! Located in Leavesden, the studio is home to hundreds of original costumes, props, and sets from all eight of the movies in the Harry Potter series. Upon starting the tour, we were greeted by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson in a video welcoming us to the studios. To be honest, I don't quite remember what they said because I was just so excited to go inside. As the video ended, the screen rose and right in front of us were the huge double doors leading to the Great Hall. Everyone waited anxiously as they slowly opened the doors revealing the incredible, original Hogwarts Great Hall! I honestly felt like I was in the movie as I walked through the hall which was filled with original costumes worn by Dumbledore, Hagrid, Snape, and even Harry himself during scenes that were filmed inside. The studio continued to be more and more magical as we saw more sets--including Dumbledore's office, Hagrids hut, and the original Hogwarts Express! The tour ended with a huge model of the Hogwarts Castle. As music from the soundtrack played and the lights illuminating the castle changed from red, to blue, to purple, I felt as though was walking through the movie and still to do this day cannot believe that I was able to experience it all! We finished off the studio tour (the studio was HUGE--apparently someone once spent the whole day from open to closing time exploring the studios) with a nice, cold glass of Butterbeer--which was extremely delicious--before heading back home. Back in my room that evening I looked at all the pictures on my phone/camera and probably took over a hundred pictures...
Magical Moment #2:
Last weekend I took a trip outside of the city to Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Bath. Salisbury was a quaint little town that had a huge, beautiful cathedral in which we were actually able to see a church service taking place. The chapel was huge and the sound of the organ rang through the cathedral--we could even hear it from outside after we left! Next, we headed to Stonehenge. Before visiting I had seen tons of pictures and was always extremely puzzled by the arrangement of stones. Actually seeing the prehistoric monument in person however was incredible. The stones were huge and it's hard to image how they were transported to the formation they are in today. After walking around Stonehenge (and taking plenty of pictures), we took a walk back to the visitors center through a grassy field covered in man-made hills. We walked up one of the hills and just sat down for a few minutes, just taking in our surroundings. The area around Stonehenge was so peaceful and the nature that surrounded us was an extremely nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Finally, we headed to Bath where we stayed the night (and watched some of the Rugby World Cup in a tiny pub where some locals taught us the rules of the game) and visited the Roman Baths the next morning. The architecture surrounding the springs were incredible, and it's hard to believe that some of the architecture in the city was built hundreds and hundreds of years ago! We even took a sip of some of the spring water from the pump at the end of the tour. Even though it's supposed to be full of minerals...it was slightly disgusting. But definitely worth the experience!
Magical Moment #3:
The theatre scene in London is incredible! As a theatre nerd I made it a goal for myself to see as many West End productions as I can while I'm studying here. And so far I am holding true to that promise! I recently went to see Miss Saigon and was blown away. Although my parents have seen the show multiple times and told me how incredible the music and story are, I didn't set my expectations too high. However, this was truly a magical show. Upon arrival, I bought my ticket and was pleased to discover that I was in the second row! Sitting so close to the stage, I felt like I was a part of the production and was completely invested in every second of it. If you are ever have the opportunity to see this show GO SEE IT! (I may go see it again if I have the time...)
Magical Moment #4:
My final magical moment happened this past weekend. Some friends and I took a weekend trip to the city of Dublin, Ireland. Upon arrival, we went to the Guinness Storehouse where we learned all about how Guinness is made, advertised, and distributed. The best part of the tour, however, is at the very end where you can see an incredible view of the entire city of Dublin (and sip on a free pint of Guinness!). We then ate at a pub called The Brazen Head. I stuck to the traditional Bangers and Mash and can honestly say that it was one of the best meals that I have had in Europe so far! The next day we woke up extremely early and went on a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. Like I said before, I never really believed in magic...until the moment that I saw the cliffs. Even though they are slightly scary at first--you can walk right up to the edge and look over at the water and sharp cliffs below--the sight of the cliffs was one of the most beautiful, breathtaking sights I have ever seen. I kept having to pinch myself so that I knew I wasn't dreaming. After getting on the bus and heading back to the East Coast, I still couldn't believe what I experienced at the cliffs and honestly am still coming to terms with how beautiful it was!
Time is going by very quickly here and I am so happy that I have been able to experience so many incredible, magical things on this wonderful continent. Here's hoping that there are many many more magical moments to come!