WB Harry Potter UK

WB Harry Potter UK

I’m making this “first post” of my experience at Harry Potter World UK (as I’ve called it) to give my first impressions and tweet about it…  I’ll give my FULL POST by making a PAGE dedicated to the experience!

I post this now, so as not to waste any more time.  It was April 18 and 19, 2016 that I visited!  I’ve let FAR too much time pass without making an entry!

Upon leaving the final day, I was asked, “What was your favorite part of the tour?”

I didn’t have a “favorite part”.  My answer was, “The people I met along the way.”  I meant, of course, the STAFF and HELPERS working at the tour!   

  • Learning the “behind the scenes” bits was interesting….  
  • Seeing the actual sets was fascinating! …
  • But the PEOPLE involved with this experience MADE IT WORTHWILE for me!

I chose one person who brought the experience to life for me!  If I trust my memory, which is dangerous to do, I will say her name was Louise… She was in the Backlot Cafe on day one.  She helped me choose which line to go into for Butterbeer ice cream!  (Then, on day 2, when there was a long line and I was EXHAUSTED and broke, she came out to explain the less expensive sandwiches so I could purchase something less expensive and more filling!  I walk with a cane, and carrying my tray, plus my bag and the cane is an ordeal!  She very graciously took my money to the register, and brought back an eggs mayonnaise sandwich in a bag!)  I will find her name and photo in my photos.  She said I impacted her!  I’m not sure as much as she impacted me!  
After I filled up on my sandwich, I took my remaining photos and had enough remaining to enjoy a small Starbucks coffee at the entrance, before taking a taxi back to my Airbnb in Watford.  The next day I journeyed back to Amsterdam and flew to NYC.  After a few days in NYC, I flew home.  I’m home now!  What an AMAZING TRIP!

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My SurvivalDay20

My SurvivalDay20

The stone I placed is the pink one at the top, above the R in “MARGOT”.

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I visited the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp Memorial.  It was exactly where I wanted to be today.  I have Miriam at my hotel, Restaurant und Landhotel Michaelishof, to thank for the experience.  She pre-arranged, by phone, a taxi-bus service for me.  I caught the first taxi at the nearby bus stop just before 11am, to go to the Bergen Hauptbahnhof station.  From there, I caught a second taxi to the Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen.  I spent the entire day at the Memorial site.

I spent as long as I needed at the exhibition center.  I learned of the Russian Prisoners of War held in the camp before it was made into a concentration camp, which I was not aware had occurred.  I witnessed several films, and observed many photos and sobering reminders of what horrors one person can do to another.  Some, I was aware of.  Some, I was not.

After taking a short break, I walked out onto the grounds to the mass graves and located the memorial stone for Anne Frank and her sister Margot.  I left the stone I have carried for Anne since last October atop that memorial.  I’m not certain if the photos will post now, but I will try.  I wanted to make the entry today, as it is April 16, 2016.

I’m back in Germany

After a long journey from my brother’s in Sweden to Northern Germany, I’m in my hotel room in Bergen, Germany.  Tomorrow I visit Bergen Belsen, day one.  The ceremonies to commemorate the liberation don’t begin until next week. I checked the website.  That’s okay.  I’m not here for that.  I’m here for my own reasons, and for my own anniversary.

It’s time to go to sleep, though.  Very brief post.  I’ll fill this in with a better account of my journey later.  Time to crash.

With my brother’s family in Sweden

With my brother’s family in Sweden

It’s very nice.  I’m enjoying it very much!

It’s a bit trying to my nerves, in that I’m not used to being around children.  

  • They have a 6 year old, who is very active and I knew from a distance in the states.  He’s my “Sir William The Great” (As great as ever!  He now speaks far more Swedish than English, understandable as he’s lived here since age 3 (late 2012) and,
  • a new niece, about to turn 1 at the end of April who is the happiest baby one moment then SCREAMS BLOODY MURDER the next!

I’m glad to have the time with them and not roaming Europe somewhere.  Watching them manage their day to day lives is astounding!  My brother has his own men’s haircut/shaving shop.  My sister-in-law works two days a week, as she’s starting back to work following her pregnancy leave of absence.  Parental leave is generous in Sweden.  In the US we “claim” to care about families, but no one passes policies to project this deep seeded “feeling” proclaimed by our politicians.  The best we can say is we can take off unpaid time to care for a sick family member/ourselves and not lose our job, if we’re lucky…

Anyhow, not going to go into all that.

As it is, I’m running out of money.  Rather, I’ve run out of money.

What I have:

  • I have my train ticket from Sweden through Denmark to Germany/Bergen Belsen, 
  • I have my train ticket from Germany through Bruxelles to London, 
  • I also have my two days’ tickets at HarryPotterWorldUK,
  • The Airbnb paid for walking distance from HarryPotterWorldUK,
  • Overnight from London back to Amsterdam –>> a stroke of brilliance by my sister-in-law, called “rail and sail”!

What I do not have:

  • Money to mail a box home from Sweden, the flat rate box is about $75,
  • Money for the taxi from the train station to the hotel in Bergen, Germany (not sure how much),
  • Money for the hotel at BergenBelsen,
  • Money for the bus to BergenBelsen memorial for two days, unless I meet a nice guest with whom I can bum a ride,
  • Taxi back to the train station when it’s time to leave,
  • Money for food from April 14 – 20th, the hotel in Bergen provides breakfast, but otherwise I’m on my own,
  • Money to reach my Airbnb from Downtown London,
  • Money for souvenirs at PotterWorldUK, but that’s the least of my concerns.

Traveling all day to Sweden is EXHAUSTING, but it will be WORTH IT!

My day began at 3am…

It’s currently 8:06pm

I’m traveling by train to my brother’s home near Stokholm, Sweden (Linkjöping) from Southern Germany.

There’s still nearly 2 hours of my journey remaining.

I LOVE that Swedish trains have free wifi!

I’ll write a better entry when I’m not dizzy as FUCK!  The rocking of the train makes it almost impossible to focus.  At least I can semi- focus and type because this is my machine.  This is my homeboy, so to say.

The last two seats I had were someone else’s and were claimed…  I had no idea my ticket included a reservation or I would have sat here from the beginning.  I’m facing forward and have use of a table!  Who’d’a’thunk!

My giant pack is back by the main door.  I get off before the two guys who helped me so far on this train.  They say they’ll help me get the pack off the train.  Or at least out of the baggage place they hoisted it.

I am SO FUCKING TIRED!

I haven’t eaten much, but that wasn’t the most important thing today.  Getting here was the key.  Now that. I’m almost in Chris’ car, it’s almost all okay again!  He will complain about my pack smelling like cats, but he’ll get over it.  I hope to wash it a few times while staying with them and fix that.

Okay. Gonna stop this now.  Getting super dizzy.  I’ll write more when I get there.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

imageI’m in the city I studied for 3months: September 2003, October 2003 and February 2004.

I had quit the best job I had EVER had to attempt something I had always wanted to do… I used all of my savings to enroll in a 2 month immersion German language course.

  • I received a scholarship to return for a month in 2004.  I chose February, because some of my friends were still there, and I wanted to return to work ASAP.  No one would hire a person due to leave again so soon.

Yesterday, I climbed to the top of the white tower you see in this photo.  When I work out how to post a full series of photos I’ll post the panorama I took!