Monday, October 16, 2017

Holiday 2017 - Greece

After a whirlwind London visit we headed off to Greece via Aegean Airlines. The first thing we found was that our Travel Agent didn't book luggage through so 55 Euros each later, we finally arrived in Athens. A very large sprawling city built on top of the ancient ruins of what was already a large city, and the weather was hot.

View from Top of Hotel

Looking down to the street

Distance View was 360 degreees.

We had allowed for an extra day before we joined  our Globus bus tour, but by the time we traveled the hour in, 2 hrs. ahead in time,  and unpacked it was dinner time so walked to a very nice English speaking restaurant and had a nice dinner and walked back. I noticed at that time after the heat, people are sitting every where especially the restaurant area which was a maze of hedges and trees between all. Nice and cool. A change from the main road.

Walking to dinner
Next day before we had to meet the bus group at 6pm, we found a laundromat, where the owner did the washing so we had to go back and pick it up. So much cheaper than going through the hotel system. Euro2.50  a kilo while the hotel had per item E7.50 - 11.50. Walking the backstreets of Athens though was noticably dirty and rundown, due to the crisis a lot of businesses have closed.

Our bus

So after a wonderful breakfast, the next day started our tour of Athens, Paliment House, Changing of the guards, 2004 Olympic Stadium.

Changing of the Guards done every hour

2004 Olympic Stadium

Roman and Greek soldiers ready to take your money for a photo.

Smile Please

  The Acropolis, of course being on top of a large hill so lots of steep climbing in 31C degree heat and crowded. It includes many buildings and temples from long ago, most in ruins or not there. It makes for extreme walking in the heat.

Image result for acropolis
From Tourism Athens.

The Female Temple - Erechtheum

Lots of ancient  marble in the paths and on steps, slippery if it rains.

Porch of Maidens ( copies)

Part of the Pathenon is under building construction. They are replacing a lot of the carving with copies and all original things are in the Acropolis  Museum, which after our return back to Athens 10 days later, we visited and with all the models and movies etc. the whole of this made more sense. So if you ever visit  do the museum first, to understand the history.

3000 year old Parthenon

Another Icon ticked off.

The constant crowd.

Waiting for the bus at the end.

We were warned not to buy anything from the shops around the archaeological sights as much cheaper  either in the township or at the factory which we visited later, and it was.
On our way back we had the choice of being dropped off at the Archaeology Museum which we took. Very interesting of several ancient cultures as well. A long walk back though as couldn't seem to find a taxi free.

Archaeology Museum

 That night we decided to do the dinner which was an extra to the tour, and after following our guide and  walking though the opened shops quite late at night, in the heart of Athens, ended up in a large restaurant. The service of this very crowded place was quite good and enjoyed a variety of regional dance styles along with costumes, including a very good Belly Dance. Had our first taste of Ouzo. Afraid I didn't like it even water down a lot.

Venue filling up
 Very late to bed at 11.30 to be followed by an early 6.30am  wake up. Traveled across the spectacular Corinth Canal.

Corinth Canal joins 2 seas and finished 1890

Then visited Mycenae famous for the Helen of Troy legend, and the Lions Gate, Europe oldest known monument. Not a huge place and seated on a hill. A burial place full of beaten gold was found here possibly a kings tomb.
Lions Gate. Lions heads possibly stolen due to being jewel encrusted. Note the Walls

 We then went on to the Epidaurus and impressive 2,300 yr. old theatre still used today, by locals and USA movie stars. A whisper if standing in the middle could be heard at the top.

Next day we set off to vist a pottery factory and to see where the original Olympic Games were held and the Temples of Hera and Zeus. Plus another museum.

First up the demonstration of pottery making at the factory and all its fabulous goods for sale.

Watching him throw a pot while we learnt the history of it all in Greece.
 Pottery styles


This design I got a small jug

Choosing a small white statue to add to ones I had bought in Europe years ago. (David)

Bought a coaster in this enamel ware on pottery plates. Lots of shiny dots

One thing I had already noticed by now is all these ruins are huge, that held large populations and spread out. This day happened to be 37C., windy and exhausting especially as by now was a week of constant walking since we left Australia.

Temple of Zeus behind me

Old Roman Baths put in after the Romans conquered Europe.

Shopping area

Entry to Olympic Stadium

The running track where you ran naked.

Visiting the museum

 So many statues are headless.

Slept like a log that night. I hope this wasn't to long, it is the end of Day 4 so you can see how much we did on this tour. Dinner was the usual Greek Buffet but we had a demonstration by the Chef on Tzatziki which was nice.

Next time off to Delphi.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Warner Bros. Studios - The Making of Harry Potter

I didn't think I would like this as much as I did. Our daughter chose it for a morning visit and the behind the scenes of all 8 of the  Harry Potter movies is represented. The time we were there was also a special on the costuming the actors wore, which was placed every now and then at certain exhibits. We caught a taxi to Euston Station and train then went to Watford Junction where we caught the Special Bus. Quite a few of the crowd were also dressed in Harry Potter Style.

Harry Potter Bus - One of many


Once you get inside with all its amazing pictures etc you line up, with audio gear to start the tour. Harry's  Bedroom under the stairs is the beginning while waiting for your group to go in.

Quite Tiny for a Bedroom

Then basically you start in the school hall and walk through into the next section till you get to the end which of course is the "Shop"

Hall is, as is when filming and very large.
Tables which were quite long

Front with  Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape Costumes

All around are models such as the Great Hall. 

 From the Hall you start working through one room after the other, lots of information how things were made even moving parts such as the door that was part of the Bank. Often also a TV screen running small documentaries on for instance make up being put on a character or dressmaking for an actor. Harry's costumes as well as others,  were also constantly being washed and labeled what day it was to be used and marked "Clean". Children actors only spend 4 hrs a day working, the rest of the time on sight at school.

Part of the Wig and Makeup section

Moving stairway with talking pictures.

Potions Class


Moving Bank Door (Gringotts Vault)

Door to the Chamber of Secrets

Stair Entrance in Dumbledore's Room
Daigon Alley with all the shops
Minister of Magic Building.
I was very impressed with all the models and art sections as a pre-requisite and story board ideas.
Lots of original drawings. No detail was missed out. A huge selection also. See if you can recognize anything.



Harry's Owl

Book of Spells
The Three Broomsticks

After all the art we then went into a new exhibit of the Forbidden Forest. The "wood" of the huge trees was very real and you could see a board on how they were made. The spiders dropped down unexpectedly and very dark.

Buckbeak he actually bent down.
Massive Big Spiders

Once through the Forest we then went outside to the Train Station to view Hogwarts Express.

Of course Platform 9 and  3/4.

 The train also featured the different carriages for the different movies and the characters got older and moved up a year.

First Movie with all the chocolate treats.

We then went outside to the Original Street where Harry lived with his Uncle.

4 Privet Drive

Mail of his Entrance to Hogwarts.
Knight Bus in the Prisoner of Azkaban

Covered Bridge from the Battle of Hogwarts

Chess Pieces from the first movie.

This model was very very large and used for a lot of the flying scenes. It had lights that turned it from day to night and could be covered in snow, with special effects.

Wand choosing in the shop at the end. No I didn't get one but it looked great.

Trying on the Hat.

Well that's it,  was a huge morning with so much to see. From there we went on to the musical Wicked  my birthday present which I thoroughly enjoyed. Fantastic Costumes

Image result for Wicked

Hope you enjoyed seeing The Making of Harry Potter. (Condensed Version)

Till next time. Off to Greece.