{Travel Tales: Scotland & London, Part Four}

The tail end of the trip was in London. Our primary goal was to see the Harry Potter Studio Tour, but it ended up being so much more!

We returned to the Islay airport and took another small plane into London. This one also involved a brief stopover in Glasgow before arriving in London, and we immediately headed over to the Air BnB. It was in such a great location, just off Baker Street (yes, right near Sherlock Holmes’ house) about a half a block from the underground station. The apartment was located in a building that seemed to be all vacation rentals, and it was a studio that overlooked the park. We chose it because it was reasonably priced, and even though it was one room, it had two separate beds.

We had theater tickets and so after a brief settling into the apartment, we headed towards the theater area. We ended up being very early for our dinner reservation, and so we walked around the neighborhood.

Dinner was at The Alchemist, which was a really fun restaurant. They had a lot of “scientific” cocktails, most of which had a fun element to them, from dry ice to bubbles. I ordered the bubblebath, which bubbled over when you poured it into the glass. The food was good as well, and reasonably priced, but the cocktails were the fun part of the restaurant!

The play we saw was All About Eve, starring Gillian Anderson (The X Files) and Lily James (Downton Abbey). It was interesting, to say the least. It blended technology with theater, creating a multi-media experience. The show was based on the movie, which I have actually never seen so I can’t really speak to accuracy (though I really should watch the movie now). The costume design was lovely, though I found myself wondering what era they were going for. The clothing was clearly forties-ish, but the photographs they had posted of the actresses were obviously modern day headshots.

For the most part, the performances were good. It’s always fun to see people you are familiar with onstage. I will say that the London theater experience is a little different from New York. For example, when the “name” comes out on stage on Broadway, raucous applause generally breaks out. In London they don’t do this. Personally I find this refreshing and nice. I always wonder how it makes the other people in the show who aren’t as famous feel when everyone cheers for the “big star” and not the people who have worked their butts off on Broadway for years (and, in a lot of cases, are much better than the big name).

On Friday morning, we headed into Islington to fulfill a dream of mine: visiting Sew Over It! It was so amazing to see the shop in person, and to actually buy fabric from them in person. It was so fun to see the fabrics from the website sitting on the shelves in the shop, and to check out the samples and cardigans and home goods in person. I left with four different fabrics, and of course now that I’m home wish that I had gotten even more.

I didn’t get to meet Lisa Comfort, but it was still a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to get back there someday!

Then it was time for the big event: The Warner Bros. Studio Tour! We met our bus, conveniently located near the Air BnB and drove out of London and into Leavesden to the sound stages. After a few rounds of standing in rooms with video presentations, it was finally time to enter the studio. The first stop is through the Hogwarts doors and into the Great Hall.

Everything is absolutely beautiful, and the attention to detail is astounding. As a fellow designer, I appreciate this very much. There were little names on every bottle, fake inventions for Dumbledore’s office, store names, Easter eggs in portraits, etc. Most of these things would never, ever be seen by the naked eye watching the movies, but they all needed to be there and work together to create the look and feel of the world of Harry Potter. They had sets, props and – my favorite – costumes! (I will be doing a full post on the costumes in the next installment.)

I took so many photos, it’s impossible to narrow them down, so here’s a random sampler:

The exhibit is arranged in no particular order, at least as far as Hogwarts layout goes, but it begins with the Great Hall and ends with the scale model of Hogwarts that the design team built. They used it for wide shots and the CGI-ed various things into it. It’s a perfect model of the basic castle, complete with rocks and the smallest little details.

The tour bus dropped us off by the apartment, so we headed up to drop some things off and figure out our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum for the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit. In a nutshell: it was incredible. I adore Dior, and I loved getting to see some of his creations up close and personal. I am going to do a full post on the exhibit itself in a few days, so here is just a little teaser for now.

The Victoria & Albert Museum is a happening place to be on Friday nights. They had the exhibits running, talks going and what appeared to be a young members party. We didn’t stay for all of that as we had dinner reservations, but it all looked like a lot of fun.

Dinner that night was at Bob Bob Ricard, which had a “press for champagne” button. I stumbled across this restaurant almost by accident when I was researching placed to go for the trip, and the champagne button was too good to pass up. I’d actually seen pictures of the buttons before on Pinterest, but didn’t realize it was a real place. I had always assumed it was just a joke picture someone had manipulated.

Other than the champagne, the food at the restaurant is really good. I had a pork belly that was really amazing. It’s definitely a splurge, but what better time to splurge than on a whirlwind vacation? And being as this was the last night, it seemed like the perfect place!

The next day we were able to sleep in a bit as our flight was later in the day. After checking out of the Air BnB, we headed to a pub on the corner for some breakfast and to wait for out cab to the airport. We headed out, and had a smooth, uneventful flight home. The rest, as they say, is history!

Stay tuned for my upcoming bonus posts about the costumes of Harry Potter and a more comprehensive look at the Dior exhibit!

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