Sunday, April 20, 2014

Magical places

One of two Sphinxes
No matter where you travel, you’re going to find some sites that spark your imagination. London has many Cleopatra’s Needle, these are presented to successful military personnel. The Needle, along with two sphinxes, are down on the London Embankment. They harken back to the days when Egypt was being explored and the romance and mystery of the desert.
of these. Colonization, as well as participating in wars can lead to the collection of artifacts. Sometimes, as with

Entrance to the A&V Museum
The Albert and Victoria Museum is another of London’s magical places. Filled with everything from traditional Chinese carvings to Botticelli masterpieces to textiles to Beatrix Potter’s letters, this jewel of a museum will take you all day to even begin to experience. One of the great pieces of art in its entryway is the Chihuly hanging. This jaw-dropping piece of glass catches the sunlight and is mesmerizing.

As a devoted mystery reader, a trip to London just isn’t complete without a visit to 221b Baker Street. There is a funky little museum with period pieces that are arranged as though they belonged to Sherlock, Watson and even Mrs. Hudson. Part of it is rather creepy, in that they have life-like manikins
Mounted Head of the Hound
representing some of the characters in the cases, including their rather grizzly demise. However, one of the most spectacular oddities (or spectacularly odd) was the mounted head of the Hound of the Baskerville.

Hedwig at #4 Privet Drive
For me, the most magical locale is not in London but in a nearby  suburb. For 10 years the cast and crew of the Harry Potter movies literally lived at  Warner Brothers Studio in Leavesden. Several of the sets are still intact, and it’s amazing to think that over the 10 years the beds in the Gryffindor tower set that the boys slept in were never enlarged, so they had to scrunch up to look as though they fit. The back lot has Tom Riddle’s grave, the Knight Bus, and two houses including Number Four Privet Drive; Hedwig, Harry’s owl (yep, he’s live along with about half a dozen other varieties of owls there for educating the public) sits in front. Many of the drawings, complete concept paintings, and full scale models are on display and are quite astonishing. There are also costumes, makeup
Door to the Chamber of Secrets
areas, and probably most interesting, the animatronic heads for some of the characters. There is, of course, butter beer available. The tour was supposed to take three hours, but we were there for closer to five; going behind the scenes is quite possibly more fascinating that the actual movies.


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