Chestnut Hill, or Hogwarts?

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? I know of only a handful of people who aren’t. (You know who you are!)

Do you want to go to Hogwarts? Do you want to play Quidditch? Ride the Hogwarts Express and Knight Bus? Learn and practice spells?

Yeah, I really want to do all these things…

And on October 21-22, 2016, in Chestnut Hill, PA, all of this (and more!) is possible!

Enter the Harry Potter Festival and Quidditch Tournament!

Chestnut Hill College is Hogwarts. Image from instagram.
Chestnut Hill College is Hogwarts. Image from instagram.

Chestnut Hill College will be transformed into Hogwarts, there will be a Quidditch Tournament, and a festival taking up 10 city blocks over the course of the two days.

There is also a Harry Potter Conference happening October 20-21, 2016!

Surprisingly, Chestnut Hill is in the Northwest corner of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If you are interested in booking a trip to Philadelphia to visit Hogwarts. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Fleur Delacour

Fleur Delacour stopped by our table at Ottawa Comic Con. She’s an adventurous spirit, or else the Goblet wouldn’t have picked her for the Triwizard Tournament.

I adore her hat!

Have you pre-ordered The Cursed Child? Are you planning on going to a midnight release party? We’re going to Pinecrest Chapters. I’m going to have to take a nap so that I can stay up so late! Will we see any of you there?

Manila, Philippines

On Facebook yesterday, a lot of people were sharing an article about The Nook Cafe – a Harry Potter themed coffee shop. Being a huge fan of Harry Potter, I decided to write a bit about it today.

The Nook Cafe in Manila. Image from aminoapps.com
The Nook Cafe in Manila. Image from aminoapps.com. Great article at the link, from someone who has actually visited the cafe!

The Nook Cafe is in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and celebrated their one year anniversary yesterday, June 7. (Happy Anniversary!)

They are celebrating all week. If anyone reads this blog and happens to be in Manila, go check them out! But be prepared for a wait – if they’re packed on a regular day, I imagine that it will be even more so during this week!

I now have another reason to travel to the South Pacific!

If you’d like help booking this trip (or others!). You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Influences on Reality

Fiction has had a lot of influence in our daily life. Just look at all the gadgets that Star Trek suggested would be the way of the future, that we actually have now in 2016! Tablets, communicators, cell phones, etc. But I’d like to look at the places that have been influenced by fiction.

1. Stargate Command

Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado is the base for NORAD, but there’s rumour that there is a door that has a sign saying “Stargate Command”. Unfortunately, since the US military moved back into the mountain, only tours with “a mission-critical rationale for visiting the mountain, where the tour is essential in performing their daily functions in defending the homelands” may enter the complex. Darn.

2. Platform 9 and 3/4

Any Harry Potter fan would enjoy visiting King’s Cross station, and they’ve even set up a trolley halfway through the wall between platforms 9 and 10. The station also has “Hogwarts Express” listed on their screens at 11 am on September 1st. I would love to show up on that day at that time, dressed as a witch. Anyone want to do that with me?

Image from www.cdn.collider.com/
Image from www.cdn.collider.com

3. 221b Baker Street

Although the Sherlock Holmes house doesn’t exist at this address, there is now a Sherlock Holmes Museum that you can go visit. When Doyle wrote the series, Baker St only went up to #85!

Image from www.res.cloudinary.com
Image from www.res.cloudinary.com

4. Ghostbusters Firestation, NY

There is a fire station in New York, Hook and Ladder Company 8, that was the setting for the Ghostbusters headquarters. They have some cute little nods to the movie, both inside and out.

Ghostbusters_Firehouse_2_(2007)
Inside the building. Image from wikimedia.

 

Outside the station. Image from bradstudios.

Let me help you plan your trip. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

South Korea themed cafes

Heading to South Korea? After seeing all these awesome little cafes, I just might go soon! Here are a few that I found that looked interesting to me!

Harry Potter

The newest is Hogsmeade; a Harry Potter themed bar. It’s in North Gyeongsang Province, on the East coast of South Korea.

 

Hogsmeade, image from utiedkpop.com
Hogsmeade Cafe in South Korea, image from unitedkpop.com.

They have all sorts of Harry Potter-themed treats, including butterbeer and chocolate frogs, and if you haven’t gotten your house robes yet, you can buy them here, no matter which house you’re in. (As a Hufflepuff, I always find it difficult to get merch with my house, although stores are getting better!) The interior is stunningly decorated, and you might forget that you’re not actually in Hogsmeade!

Sherlock

221B is a very classy and elegant cafe in Seoul, with great attention to detail in the decor – check out the picture of the bathroom wallpaper! They have Sherlockian coffee and food items, including eggs Benedict. 😉 There’s a TV screen that shows the episodes on constant repeat. I wonder if they had a viewing party when the new episodes came out this year?

Monster Movies

Monster Cupcakes in Seoul has sweet treats based on classic monsters. They haven’t posted any pictures on their Facebook page since 2012, but hopefully they’re still around!

Doctor Who

Although not a cafe, the Doctor Who Pub & Grill in Anyang is a cute little place with subtle (and some not-so-subtle) nods to the British TV show, mostly through the decor. The food is not themed, or at least it wasn’t at the time of the article that I linked you to (April 2015). We can only hope they’ve added Whovian related foods to their menu now that it’s been around for a while.

Charlie Brown

There’s a cute little cafe called the Charlie Brown Cafe in Oebalsan-dong, Incheon Airport. The food, especially the pastries, is absolutely adorable, with images of the characters included in the edibles. You can also buy merchandise. The decor is mainly why I want to go here.

The interior of the Charlie Brown Cafe. Image from blogspot.com.
The interior of the Charlie Brown Cafe. Image from blogspot.com.

Hello Kitty

Of course there is a Hello Kitty Cafe. Actually, there are several throughout South Korea. The decor is adorable, the food is themed, and you can buy merchandise.

I hope you enjoyed this quick run-through of the themed cafes in South Korea! There are more that I didn’t talk about here.

If you’d like help booking a trip to South Korea. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Umbridge

The most hated character from the magical world managed to get her hands on the TARDIS. I think I broke one of her Educational Decrees. Yikes!

Thank you to Popsquatch Designs for being such a good sport! You were fantastic!

Magischola

If you’re involved in any sort of Harry Potter community, you’ve probably heard about the LARP (Live-Action Role Play) that ran for four days in Czocha Castle, Poland. It was organized by the College of Wizardry, and the first event was so popular, that they opened up several more weekends. They currently (at the time of this article) only have a few spaces left April 21-24.

This idea was so well received in Europe that the Americas wanted to host one of their own.

Enter Magischola. A Kickstarter to get tickets for two weekends in summer 2016, that only launched on November 23, 2015, has already reached $161,640 (at the time of this article)! Last night (November 24), they opened a third weekend in July 2016, and I bet it’s already sold out as well. (Predicting the future! I should study Divination, if I’m correct.)

University of Richmond campus. Image taken from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nwmagischola/new-world-magischola-a-college-of-wizardry-larp/description
University of Richmond campus. Image taken from Magischola Kickstarter

For those of us who are not going, the stretch goals include a 15 minute documentary (already reached) and a 30 minute documentary (reached at 180K). I’m excited to see this. We will have a guest post in late 2016, written by one of the attendees, about their time at the event.

Do you have questions? They have answers! I learned that the University campus is wheelchair accessible, and will accept service animals. Currently, they only offer this event for ages 18+, but if they make enough money through the Kickstarter (300K), they will offer a family-friendly summer camp type event in summer 2017, that will include children ages 11-17.

Magischola will be offering their LARP on the campus of the University of Richmond, in Richmond Virginia on the Eastern coast of the United States. You can only buy tickets through the Kickstarter, and these tickets will cover your accommodation and meals during your intended stay.

But how will you get there?

People who are close can travel by car, or by AMTRAK train, but if you’re further away, flights will probably be best. The organizers will be looking into getting a shuttle from both the airport and the train station, once they know how many people will be travelling from each.

If you’d like help booking your train or flight tickets. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Halloween fun

This weekend is Halloween, and if you’re looking for something last-minute to do, I’m sure there’s a Halloween party just around the corner. In Ottawa, Can-Con will have Trick-or-Treating in the vendor’s room all day, and it’s free to the public, so be sure to stop by!

But if you’re looking for something a little further from home and off the beaten path, here are some great last-minute options!

Ithaca, New York

Do you like Harry Potter? Would you be interested in visiting Diagon Alley? For five hours on Halloween, Ithaca NY is transforming Press Bay Alley into Diagon Alley and I desperately want to go!! There will be a House Cup Competition, a Horcrux Hunt, a costume contest, presentations on magical creatures, wizarding chess, Quidditch re-enactments, wizarding duels, and so much more! This is their first event, so maybe I’ll be able to go next year…

A real-life Diagon Alley in Ithaca! I want to go!
A real-life Diagon Alley in Ithaca! I want to go! Image from http://ithacavoice.com/

The Catacombs of Paris

You would have had to enter the contest with Airbnb, but two lucky (or unlucky?) winners will be the first people to spend Halloween night in the Catacombs under Paris – the home of seven million corpses. Dinner, a private concert, breakfast, and a storyteller will put them to sleep with creepy bedtime stories “guaranteed to produce nightmares”. Who would like to participate in this? Certainly not me!

Hope the winners never saw the terrifying horror movie As Above, So Below or it’s trailer.

Creepy! Image from www.i.telegraph.co.uk
Creepy! Image from www.i.telegraph.co.uk

The Stanley Hotel in Colorado

The Stanley Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in the world. It was the setting for Stephen King’s “The Shining”. Reportedly haunted by Lord Stanley and his wife, as well as kids who run along the fourth floor halls at two in the morning, and many others, this would be the place to go to test yourself. It is open for business, and hosts a Ghost Adventure Package as well as standard room packages.

Just don’t order the Redrum…

The Stanley Hotel. Image from www.stanleyhotel.com
The Stanley Hotel. Image from www.stanleyhotel.com

If you are interested in going on any of these cruises, or others. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Happy Haunting!


References

https://www.facebook.com/events/1633034433638155/
http://ithacavoice.com/2015/10/2400-harry-potter-fans-to-transform-ithaca-street-into-diagon-alley/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11929209/Airbnb-offers-Halloween-night-in-Paris-Catacombs.html
http://www.stanleyhotel.com/

Norway

Norway is a beautiful country full of geeky opportunities. Tons of movies were filmed there, including “Empire Strikes Back” (in Finse), “Die Another Day”, “Eight Below”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra”, and “Captain America: The First Avenger” (in Svalbard), parts of “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince” (in Rauma), “Ex Machina” (in Norddal and Luster), and “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows” (in Mardalsfossen). Of course, “Vikings” was shot in many locations in Norway, including Sokndal, Bjerkreim, Gjesdal, Forsand, Aurland, and Stranda.

Note: Svalbard is an island much further North of the continent, and would probably be a trip all on it’s own.

And that’s not even counting Oslo, Norway’s capital. One of the best comic book stores exists there: Outland. They have everything you could possibly want, including Lego, board games, comic books (obviously), and collectibles.

Akershus Fortress is also located in Oslo. It was used as the model for Arendelle’s castle in Frozen, and Norway’s building in Epcot is a replica of the Fortress.

Akershus Fortress picture from www.visitolso.com
Akershus Fortress picture from www.visitolso.com

For History buffs, Norway is an amazing place to visit. They have museums, carvings, and historical centres all over the place. I read through this website, a mom and her six year old son’s trip to Norway was beautifully written.

She also writes about eight haunted places in Norway that you must visit. They have a Ghost Walk similar to the Haunted Walk in Ottawa!

Let’s not forget that Disney’s Cruise Line Magic has a “Frozen” themed cruise to Norway as well. See Norway with that Disney magic thrown in!

Anna and Elsa from Disney Cruise Line www.disneyparks.disney.go.com
Anna and Elsa from Disney Cruise Line www.disneyparks.disney.go.com

If you are interested in a trip to Norway, contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca