Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harry Potter Walking Tour

I know, I know, more Harry Potter!  The good news is, this won't be nearly as long as before.  The bad news is...wait, there is no bad news, it's Harry Potter!  Anyway, London has a TON of these walking tours.  They're exactly like they sound, you pay, and the tour guide takes you around to different locations based on the tour you're going on.  I've already done two, an Olympics one and a Jack the Ripper one, both through the university I'm at here.  This time, however, I went with two of my friends on a Harry Potter film locations one.

Our tour guide was a wonderfully nice man named Richard.  We could instantly tell he was for the Harry Potter tour since he was wearing a Gryffindor hat, a gold and red striped tie and had a Gryffindor scarf tied to his backpack.  You could instantly tell that he loved his job and was passionate about Harry Potter.  Now, we didn't hit all of the big sites I wanted, so my friend Becky and I are going back out on our own Thursday to do that.  In the mean time, here's what we did see.

Things are going to get a little confusing, so I'll do my best to explain.  In the course of the movies, there were 3 locations used for the Leaky Cauldron.  This location was used in the movies when Harry and Hagrid were walking to the Leaky Cauldron on Sorcerer's Stone.  This was also the pub Scrooge went to in Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve right before all the ghosts showed up.

And Scrooge went to that pub because the next alley over is where he lived.  It doesn't look like much, but just imagine it all covered with snow and dark from all the smoke in the air.

Right next to the alley is the church with the bell tower that rang in all three ghosts that night to visit Scrooge.  It all really exists, Dickens didn't just make up alleys and churches and everything for his books.  Anyway, back to Harry Potter.

This is where they filmed Harry and Hagrid talking before going to the Leaky Cauldron.  In this scene, Harry's looking at his school supply list and is getting a little freaked out, because he needs a lot of unusual supplies.  So, our tour guide, Richard turns to us and says, "And what does Harry say to Hagrid while looking over the list?"  Nobody spoke up, and I knew the answer, so I spoke up and said, "Can we buy all of this in London?"  Richard then takes it upon himself to not only give me the little microphone he's wearing but have me walk down the street with him reinacting the scene.  At first I was mortified, but secretly, it was a lot of fun.  I found I didn't care if people were staring at me, I'd never see them again so why did it matter?  Plus, who else can say they've done that?

Remember when I said things get confusing with the Leaky Cauldron?  Well, above is the exterior to the Leaky Cauldron from the Sorcerer's Stone.  Before it was where they were talking to the Leaky Cauldron, this is where the actual Leaky Cauldron was in the FIRST movie (remember that, only the first movie, it's important).

Now to jump ahead to Half-Blood Prince.  We've already talked about Millennium Bridge in past posts, so I'm not going to post pictures of that.  This dome shaped building, however, was in the same scene.  In the scene, you see office workers looking out their window, utterly confused about what's going on outside (they don't know it's Death Eaters), and this is the building they were in.  Go back to the scene and look, you can see the sloped windows and everything.

Alright, time for Leaky Cauldron site number three!  In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry takes the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron.  Now, you couldn't tell before, but it was a REALLY narrow alley where the former film locations were, you couldn't fit a bus there.  So, instead they picked this location, where they could have the bus come flying down the street and screech to a sudden halt right here, right across from Bridget Jones' flat from Bridget Jones' Diary.

This last picture isn't a Harry Potter film location, but it's pretty crucial to the Harry Potter franchise.  This is the City of London School, an all boys school where Daniel Radcliffe (AKA Harry Potter himself) went to school.  It's right next to Millennium Bridge and has a lovely view of the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre.

So I mentioned how awesome our tour guide was.  We ended outside St. Paul's Cathedral, and there we did a little "cheer" from Harry Potter.  He gave all the little kids a fold up wand to throw into the air and everything.  You can see the video of this above just to get a sense of how cool it was (in a dorky kind of way).

Richard also took it upon himself to play us the famous "Hedwig's Theme" as we approached our first destination, the Leaky Cauldron.  You probably know the song and don't even realize it, it's the Harry Potter theme song, it's in all the movies, the trailers, etc.  You automatically think of Harry Potter when you hear it.  Sorry for the quality, but you can see a clip of Richard playing the song above.

So, that was our amazing Harry Potter walking tour.  If you're ever in London, check the walking tours out, they're a lot of fun, reasonably priced and you learn a lot more than you think you would in a fun way.

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