From Paris to Lytham to Hogwarts

In England by Eller Student

                It’s been a busy last couple of weeks for me here in London. Garrett, one of my friends on the program, came across two free tickets on the Eurostar Train to Paris. We wanted to use them, but the only time we had free was over Bastille Day weekend. Due to almost every train time we could find being booked, we were only left with being able to go and return on the same day, which was Bastille Day itself. We only had about seven hours in the city, but we made the most of it. In our whirlwind walk through the city, we saw Montmartre, the outside of the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame. We also stopped to see my dad’s former office in Paris, where he worked from 1960-1962, and his favorite bar, Harry’s New York Bar. Not only was my dad a fan of Harry’s, but it was also the regular hangout of Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite writers. When all was said and done, I spent less than 10 euro in Paris, because we only saw free attractions and paid for some bread and cheese at a grocery store for lunch.

                The very next weekend, I headed up to Royal Lytham & St. Annes for the 141st Open Championship. The six of us (Megan, Wes, Chris, Sam, and Ashley) had tickets to the final round, and we got to see all of the best golfers in the world in the same place at the same time. I bought a radio, which was the best decision I’ve ever made, and spent most of the time on my own, picking and choosing which groups I would see at my own pace. I followed the final three groups for the majority of the time, and because of my radio, I could keep tabs on all the changes in the leaderboard, no matter who I was following. It was a win-win situation, and the final groups were composed of Tiger Woods (my favorite), Brandt Snedeker , Zach Johnson, Graeme MacDowell (home course hero), Adam Scott (poor guy), and eventual winner Ernie Els (bringing it home for Callaway). The day was filled with drama, and it is one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. Highlights included witnessing Adam Scott’s fateful final four holes, cheering “Bear Down” for Jim Furyk, and seeing Adam Scott’s wife. To top it all off, I hopped on a train that got me back to London a full nine hours before I was scheduled to get in. No one checked my ticket, and I was able to get back to Kensington in plenty of time to get some rest for work the next day.

                But one of the best, of not the single best, thing I have done on this trip was going to the Harry Potter Studios outside of London. Stephanie and Emily and I spent over four hours wandering through the studios where all eight Harry Potter movies were filmed. We saw all the original costumes, props, and most of all, the sets. Full sets including the Great Room, Dumbledore’s Office, Hagrid’s Hut, and Diagon Alley were all in the exact condition and state that they were in the movies. I was overwhelmed by how detailed and pristine the sets were. It was as if the imagination of my childhood was coming to life before my eyes. After scouring every last inch of the Studio for hours, the best was saved for last: a 24:1 scale model of Hogwarts that is used for all the sweeping landscape shots that appear in the movies. The model was enormous, taking the space of roughly half a basketball court. I was legitimately speechless when I turned the corner and saw the model. It’s hard to describe the connection that people of my generation have to Harry Potter, as we grew up alongside the cast at the same ages of the main characters. I would recommend the studio to anyone who is visiting London, because despite all of the flashy things I’ve done in the city, I can honestly say that the Harry Potter studio was my favorite afternoon I’ve had in this country.