Happy Holidays! I hope whoever reads this is having a wonderful and peaceful time, no matter how and who you spend it with, whether you celebrate Christmas or whether “your” holidays happened already.
Anyway, as the year draws to an end, I find my calendar a lot fuller than it was all year round. I’ve had time off since Friday and, which I enjoyed very much, found myself spontaneously meeting friends for coffee and shopping. I’m not a very spontaneous person, usually, but whenever it happens, I realise how much it can improve your day if you add some nice company to it. Of course, it’s way easier when neither of us has to work that day.
Today, however, I and my mother got up way too early (a 7 AM rise is not how I usually spend my time off work!) and went on our way to Cologne. It’s about forty minutes from here and one of the biggest towns in our area, so going there the day before Christmas Eve is a completely new level of insanity. But we went for a good reason. We had tickets to see the Harry Potter Exhibition. Admittedly, it’s been on since October and will stay until March, so we didn’t have to go today. But when we talked about it, we quickly came to the conclusion that it was the only day we both had a day off together. So really, whatever, there are worse ways to spend the last days of the year, right?
We had tickets for 10:30 but arrived way too early. Luckily, there was a McDonald’s next door. We went with the plan to get breakfast but everything already smelled so oily and they didn’t have any baked goods that weren’t cake, so we only had some coffee. When we got to the Odysseum, we were still twenty minutes early but they already let us in.
The whole thing starts with what’s my personal horror, part show – part interaction, with an actress leading visitors through the Sorting Hat Procedure. It turned out very fun, though, even though I was glad that not everyone had to do it. My social anxiety would have been ablaze if I’d had to sit in front of a group of strangers. But the people who did it was fun and there was one older woman who was a total Harry Potter fangirl, it was adorable. She ended up in Hufflepuff, as she’d wanted. Between you and me, I’m pretty sure the Sorting Hat really listened to people’s wishes. 😉 Also, the actress seemed so much like a slightly older version of Hermione, it was almost creepy.
After that, we were led into a room with several screens that showed scenes from the movies and I’m pretty sure that everyone started thinking that it was lame, but right then one of the walls was pulled back and it felt like you were stepping right into Hogwarts, it was awesome!
After that, I felt like a kid in a candy store, except that I couldn’t eat – or touch – anything. I suppose you could walk through these rooms and feel like in a museum. Cool stuff, a lot to see, but no real connection. But if you look at the costumes and the little bits and pieces and really think about that they were worn and touched by the people you’ve seen on the screen hundreds of times, that they appeared right there in those movies that were such a big part of your life…that’s really impressive. I mean, Harry Potter is up there with other classics by now. Everyone knows it. There are small things, like the font of the logo, the melody of the intro…and you immediately think of Harry Potter, whether you really liked it or not. And then you’re standing in front of an outfit that is basically just clothes that could have been bought by anyone from the H&M around the corner but you know what it was worn in the very movie you only just watched a couple days ago – for the millionth time. And that’s just awesome! Oh god, I sound like such a fangirl, I’m sorry. I’m not even one of those people who’ll break into random fangirling at all times. I don’t have a lot of memorabilia from my favorite books or movies. But things like that really get me going. When they were showing the scenes from the movies and the theme started playing, I actually teared up. I felt like a total tool.
They showed a lot of the things you’d expect to see. Harry’s school and Quidditch uniforms, Ron’s hideous festive clothes, Hermione’s ball gown, the Deathly Hallows, the Horcruxes, that kind of thing. But also a lot of things you didn’t expect some you even only remembered when you saw them, like all the freaky things Luna possesses and wears, or the death statue from the graveyard scene. Most of the things were just exhibited and you weren’t allowed to touch them or even get too close, understandably so, but there were also some interactive parts like a “Quidditch field” or the mandrakes. My god, did I love those! They had set up a little field of mandrakes with signs urging you on to pull one up and yes, they actually screamed when you did it. Hur hur, that’s exactly right for Kathy! And another guy who was also very fascinated. My mom kept telling me not to do it (“Don’t! Don’t! DON’T!”) but there really was some magic possessing me, I swear.
What wasn’t so fascinating but equally hard to resist was the souvenir store. There was a lot of overpriced stuff, of course, that was mostly just merchandise that had nothing to do with the books or the movies at all. But they also had some really nice souvenirs like most of the magic wands (I so, so, so want Narcissa Malfoy’s!) or the Marauder’s Map. And I know mugs are some of the lamest pieces of merch ever but they had a really cute one that said “Dobby Is A Free Elf”. Aww! I don’t know how I did it but I went out of there without buying a single piece. Admittedly, the prices were crazy but that’s never stopped me before. I think I was mostly just overwhelmed by the possibilities. There was just so much.
The walk through the exhibition took about one and a half hours because we took our time, listening to the audio guide and remembering our favorite scenes. I suppose you could walk through it within thirty minutes or less if you just had a quick look but why would you do that if you paid so much money for the ticket?
Afterwards, we were both so tired but decided that, what the hell, we had come all the way to Cologne, so we could as well make the best of it. So we drove into town and parked by the lovely, lovely Heumarkt, a part of the old town. I’m not a Christmas fair kinda girl but the one there is so cute. They have these pretty wooden huts that are a lot more detailed than others and also add some cute decoration with Christmas gnomes. We were starving and cold, though, so we had dinner first. We wanted to eat at a more traditional place, like a brewery or a pub but none were open, so we ended up at Maredo, a steakhouse chain. The food was fine as usual but I’ve kind of gone off all these chains because there’s so much more to discover and they’re always the same. But the alternative would have been to eat something on the Christmas fair and it was so windy and nasty, we didn’t want to do that.
After lunch, we walked along the main shopping street. There were a lot of things I wanted to look for, my Agent Provocateur perfume, the Harry Potter books with the new covers (they had no books at the exhibition!), more clothes from H&M…but I found neither. My mom finally bought the perfume she’d been lusting after for two (!) years, probably because I guilt tripped her. I mean, I wanted to buy mine but couldn’t and she was about to pass up on yet another chance after complaining to me that she couldn’t find it previously? Not gonna happen! I ended up not buying much, only a couple things from the English Shop. It sells British foods, books and magazine and I was ecstatic to find they sell the Oat So Simple instant porridge pots. I could bathe in those! So I picked a few up, as well as a can of Diet Cherry Coke. Dear Coca-Cola, it’s totally time to start selling this here. A bit of a poor loot for a whole day in Cologne but probably for the best, so close to Christmas and another trip to London.
By the time we got back home, it was after five and I think it’s safe to say that it’s a miracle that I’m still up. The early rise, the excitement of the exhibition, the walk through town…I’m exhausted! But happy. It was a good day.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, I can only recommend visiting the exhibition. It seems pricey but it’s so worth it and I guarantee it will leave you with a smile on your face! What follows may seem like a lot of pictures but they’re only just a tiny part of all there is to see and it’s so much more impressive when you’re there in person. My phone camera couldn’t possibly capture the magic! Click here if you want to learn more about it and buy tickets for the exhibition.