Posts Tagged With: Harry Potter

Optimism or Why My Mother Rocks

I don’t have many rules in my life. I don’t believe in any god or religion either. Pretty much the only gospel I follow is: ‘There’s nothing a little bit of shopping can’t fix’. (Sometimes shopping gets replaced with food, but let’s stay simple here.)

So today, when my mom asked if I wanted to do something with her, my first thought was ‘PRIMARK!’ like a crack whore whose last fix happened way too long ago. Which comes close to the truth, in case you’re wondering.

The thing with Primark is, it’s the bag of crisps among the shops. ‘I swear, I’m only gonna have a handful, I’m not even hungry.’ Uh huh. And out you come with ten heavy bags and a credit card screaming in agony. I did hold back today, though. Or actually, I didn’t feel like I did but I ended up paying way less than I thought and I still came away with a bunch of things I definitely hadn’t planned buying. Seriously, though, I know the puppy cushion was only 5€. I know it isn’t the worst kind of retail mania I’ve ever indulged in. But this newfound obsession with cushions for my couch really need to stop. In case you’re wondering: I have a 2-seater Ektorp couch from Ikea and that already has as little space as a couch will have. And I keep adding cushions because they’re all so adorable and pretty and uuuuggghh, I need them all.

But anyway, what I was actually gonna do was write a long appreciative post about the wonderful person that is my mother.

See that Hufflepuff shirt in the picture? See, I almost didn’t buy it. The thing with Primark and me is it has little love for my plus size body. With most of their shirts, their cardigans, their hoodies, well, most items that are meant to dress the upper half of your body, I will just about fit into their 20, sometimes more comfortably than other times. This often causes my heart to break silently when I browse their nerdy racks with all the Potter, Game of Thrones, Disney and other items. This time wasn’t much different and as usual, everything I didn’t want was available in all sizes, all the many available 20’s mocking me while I stared longingly at all the things I couldn’t have. When I saw these shirts, however, my inner Hufflepuff did a happy dance, followed by a sad dance when there were no 20’s left.

I dug out an 18 and looked at it, holding it up to my body and frowning dubiously, my usual ‘I know this is very irresponsible spending if I don’t at least try this on but the changing rooms are so annoying here’-dance, asking my mom if she thought I should just go for it or regret not buying it forever. When she goes, digs out a 12 and says ‘Or you could just buy this one for when you’ve lost all that weight!”

Awww, I know, right? That’s so lovely of her. Even though I know 12 is so ridiculous, it’s almost rude again, just the thought that she really, truly believes I’ll manage to lose all that weight eventually makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My mom is one of the most brutally honest and judgemental people I know. If she thinks you’re full of shit or what you’re going will crash and burn, she’ll have you know, and she won’t stop before you’re curled up on the floor, crying uncontrollably. But when she says something motivational like that, you know she really believes it. You know she isn’t just supporting you because it’s kinda her job but she absolutely, 100% has your back.

So yes, hormonal or not, I was not looking forward to the first moment I got all teary-eyed in a Primark but it really couldn’t be helped today.

I did end up being an 18, by the way. My mom may believe in the impossible, but I’m just not there, yet.

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Categories: Me Myself and I, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Piece of My Heart Lost

If you’re a perceptive person and glanced at the little Instagram feed waaaaay down on the bottom of my blog, you may have noticed that the past few days saw me feeding my IG account with a bunch of sightseeing pictures from London. Only just over a month since my last visit to this beautiful, beautiful city, I went back, this time to conquer the place with Mel.

Uhm...anyone alive?

Uhm…anyone alive?

After catching an insane 7 AM flight from Weeze to Stansted, we found an almost empty arrivals area and a slightly busier shopping area where we had to kill some time and enjoy a quick breakfast of sandwiches before catching out airport shuttle into the city. At this point I was already pretty convinced that I must have the face of a terrorist or a drug smuggler because at every passport control, it took a lot of glancing back and forth between my passport, their screen and my face and I was already preparing myself for a chat with a grumpy official. In the end, though, they always waved me through anyway. “No, officer, I’m not on any drugs, I’m just running on three hours of sleep!”

The airport shuttle was…a surprise. We’d watched all the huge modern coaches from National Express and Terravision come and go and I was already looking forward to an hour of napping in a comfortable seat when our Easybus shuttle arrived. I have no idea where they took the name Easybus from because the thing was pretty much an empty coke can on wheels, driven by a grumpy guy who seemed to trust that everyone would enjoy a little fearing for their life first thing after arriving in London. With hindsight, it was hilarious.

Heh.

Heh.

The shuttle dropped us off at Old Street from where we could catch the Northern Line straight down to our hotel in Clapham. Clapham is an area I had never been to before but I found it quite agreeable. There’s nothing exciting to do or see there and it’s really just one of the many cute little parts of London that are mostly residential but have a High Street to serve people’s everyday needs. But it was cute, with a large green common area and rather well kept town houses, so our hotel’s location could have been way worse. The first day, we had to walk quite a distance because the hotel’s information had said that it was right between two tube stations and it didn’t matter which one we got off on. The next day we found out that ‘right between’ means one is a 10 minute walk away, the other just around the corner. But at least we got to see a little of Clapham that way (and found that it had a café with a clever Game of Thrones reference.  Heh.). And being able to catch the Northern Line also is a good thing because it’s so easy to get somewhere with it. The hotel also seemed quite okay when we arrived, even though they wanted £4 just for storing our luggage. But it was either that or drag the suitcases around all day.

Come on, it's mandatory!

Come on, it’s mandatory!

After dropping our luggage off, we were faced with the decision of what to do first and guess what? We ended up at Starbucks! But not without saying hello to Piccadilly Circus. What is it about that place? You always hear about people running into celebrities there and even ‘mortal’ locals often happen to go to that place. I can’t imagine Parisians just randomly visiting the Eiffel Tower or New Yorkers to hang out by Lady Liberty’s feet but Londoners really seem to like Piccadilly Circus. Not like I could blame them, of course. It really is a magical place, even though I miss all the really cool stores they used to have there. (Read: I miss being able to buy records just anywhere in London without relying on HMV on Oxford Street!)

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Starbucks served us well, even though it’s safe to say we both felt tired and exhausted from the early flight all day. Since Mel had made plans with a friend to catch up, we told her we’d meet her at the British Museum, so we were headed there next. The thing with museums is that I have mixed feelings about them. Art is a wonky subject because I can’t get into everything but then there are pieces that capture me so much I can sit and stare at them for ages. With historical stuff, I can never get excited about huge displays of many tiny bits and pieces but I love large pieces and statue that make me imagine what they looked like originally, where they used to be before and what it must have been like there. So the British Museum is perfect for me. Their Egyptian, Roman and Greek exhibitions have so many remarkable things to offer and I feel like they’re doing such a great job at creating just the right atmosphere for every piece. For example in many of

Word!

Word!

the Egyptian rooms, the lights are dimmed a little, the walls are a little darker and they often created an atmosphere that made you feel like you were walking straight into a tomb. And the Roman and Greek parts were often really light and airy. I just love visiting this museum, even though its architecture is a little more modern and not quite as stunning as the Natural History museum. Mel’s friend joined us halfway into our visit and we explored the Asian exhibition and a few other parts together before finishing our visit in the library (cue me fangirling!). Sadly, the doors to the large reading room were closed but nonetheless, the library is stunning! What I wouldn’t give to spend a day there reading. The only thing I don’t like is that there aren’t any books on the shelves anymore. I get that it would just be too much work to take care of it all and people can’t go up on the galleries anyway, so it isn’t like anyone ever gets to appreciate what’s on the shelves anyway but I don’t know. An empty library feels a little like a dead body.

I don’t even remember if we had any more plans for that day but we ended up having what was supposed to be a quick dinner but got extended to a long dinner and drinks and chat session. Which was just as well, as far as I’m concerned. By that time my feet hurt and I was ready to curl up under the table and go to sleep. We talked about music a lot (well, for the most part I listened because, despite not being interested in some of the bands they talked about, I just love listening to people talk about their favorite music because it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to know people still appreciate it) and when we made it back to Oxford Street for some shopping at HMV, I bought two albums on impulse. The Third Three Years by Frank Turner which has live recordings from one of his shows in Wembley (because nothing ever beats Frank Turner live shows!) and Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem. Admittedly, no new discoveries but I finally caught up with some of my favorites.

After saying goodbye to our company, we made it back to our hotel for a somewhat early night in. For me it is always strange sharing a room with people for the first time. No matter how well you know someone, your evening and morning rituals are always something they haven’t seen yet. But I believe Mel and I made the best of the tiny space we had in our room. And tiny it was. But somewhat clean and the bed was alright-ish, so it was okay.

London has a beautiful love affair with modern ceilings like this.

The next day started with the usual question: What do we do first? We decided to go to King’s Cross first to feed our little Potterhead needs. Upon arriving at Platform 9 3/4, we were a little disheartened to find they made people queue up and pose in front of a professional photographer and everyone else. The good thing is you don’t have to get a professional photo done but can also just let your friend take a picture. So that’s what we did. Or Mel did, anyway. I still get a little breathless imagining myself posing in front of a bunch of strangers. It’s stupid and I kinda regret not doing it but there’s always next time and now that I know what it’s like, I can begin giving myself pep talks two months in advance. We also visited the Platform 9 3/4 store and splurged a little. I bought a ticket for the Hogwarts Express, writing paper and a card holder which came in handy for my several credit and ID cards, so I didn’t have to carry my huge wallet around all the time. When we left, I figured I should have bought postcards but when I told my mom about the whole experience, she said she wants to see it, too, so I suppose I’ll be back in November anyway. King’s Cross itself was a surprise for me because I thought it wouldn’t be so modern. Other than that, it was just a typical train station, I suppose. It also brought us the scariest moment of the whole trip, though. When we were in the HP store, there was an announcement asking all passengers and visitors to leave the station immediately. Suddenly, there was police around everywhere and no one knew what was up. I have to say, though, Londoners are quite hardcore about these things, especially after the whole Charlie Hebdo panic. Everyone was just randomly standing around, some people just went to get a snack and others even refused to interrupt what they were doing. We walked around the station in search of a Starbucks or some other place where we could wait and then go back in later but by the time we had walked around to the other end, people were already walking into the station again. We followed carefully, halfway expecting to get kicked out again but nope. In general, I’d say my anxiety over the whole terrorism affair is pretty bad right now and I had been a little nervous about going to such a popular place as London, so I didn’t really need this kind of shock, but I’m glad it ended up being nothing.

In front of Sherlock's door with my Harry Potter bag - does that scream NERD or what?

In front of Sherlock’s door with my Harry Potter bag – does that scream NERD or what?

Our next step took is straight to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I don’t know how often Mel apologized for ‘Sherlockizing’ this trip and I don’t know how often I told her it’s okay but it was often. We did a lot of Sherlock-related things and I didn’t mind in the slightest. First of all, it did introduce me to ‘new’ things about London I hadn’t seen and hadn’t done or even known about before. And then – as with the music talk – I just like seeing people get excited about the things they like. And I’m sure she’ll hate me for saying this but Mel is quite adorable when it is about something she’s truly excited about.

We ended our visit with mandatory pictures of ourselves posing in front of Sherlock’s front door. I was surprised to find there was no long queue outside because posing for pictures is completely free and I figured even a lot of passersby would stop to do so.

I’m nowhere near a Sherlockian but even I found some of the things they sold in the shop enticing. We didn’t buy anything, though, safe for the ticket to enter the museum. ‘Museum’ is a strange word here because it felt more like visiting someone’s home. 221b Baker Street doesn’t only look like a random town house from the outside, it also looks and feels that way from the inside, complete with cute wallpapers and creaking floor boards. The first two floors were awesome in the way that they looked like Sherlock was about to return any minute now. The last two were still cozy but they’d set up scenes from the books, using mannequins with often creepy faces and I didn’t like that as much. But the rest of the house I wanted to make my own. Even though my own rooms are so high and airy, I love small and cozy rooms, which a lot of British homes offer, and 221b Baker Street isn’t an exception to that. And the fireplaces! Oh dear!

 

Hay's Galleria - Our not so little shelter from the cold

Hay’s Galleria – Our not so little shelter from the cold

I don’t remember if it was our original plan or whether we made spontaneous adjustments but next we found ourselves at London Bridge from where we had a stunning view towards Tower Bridge. We decided to take a stroll along the Thames down towards Tower Bridge and passed Hay’s Galleria on the way. That’s another thing about London I love so much: You can just start walking somewhere and on the way you’ll pass many gorgeous little things you didn’t even know where there. According to the description, the Galleria used to be a wharf in former times but nowadays it’s something like a huge courtyard in which you’ll find bars, cafe´s and restaurants and also a few stalls selling crafts. We had a coffee at Starbucks and marvelled at the fact that we were sitting outside but somewhat sheltered, so it was unbearably cold.

Be still my heart!

Be still my heart!

Feeling refreshed, we pushed on towards Tower Bridge, but not without stopping to take a bunch of selfies in front of it. We were in good company, though, as a Spanish (?) travel group posed for a bunch of action group photos. Who could blame them (or us), though, since the bridge was simply stunning with the lights on and surrounded by all the other lights along the river. I can also proudly announce that after nearly five years, Mel and I managed to take our first real picture (well, pictures) together. And with Tower Bridge as our background, too. It feels like we’ve been waiting for this perfect opportunity.

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

We crossed the bridge, again feeling stunned by how huge and gorgeous and impressive it is up close, and found ourselves in front of the Tower. By then, it was too dark for any proper sightseeing. Or least to take proper pictures, as the seeing certainly wasn’t a problem with all the many lights around, making the whole city seem even more magical than it usually does. But since we’re little tourists at heart, we decided to put an end to the sightseeing for the night and went back to Oxford Street for some shopping.

Once there, our first stop was House of Fraser where I finally bought Mel her Christmas present. I’d given her a voucher for a Naked Basics Palette from Urban Decay since I didn’t just want to buy one and find she didn’t like the colors as much. It turned out to be a good decision because she wasn’t so excited about either of the Basics but lost her heart to the Naked 2 instead. So we bought that. I’m glad to finally welcome her to the world of Naked Addicts. Heh.

Next we went to Waterstones and the usual thing happened: I drag someone to a bookstore intending to BUY ALL THE BOOKS! but then end up not really able to find anything or get excited about anything and making an alibi purchase but my company buying something despite not even planning to do so. I’m also sorry to report that Mel’s purchase of Tinder was infinitely cooler than my simply continuing the I Heart series by buying the next instalment, I Heart Vegas. We ended the night with a visit to the Waterstones café downstairs where I had a delicious White Hot Chocolate and she had the grossest bottle of cola either of us had ever tasted.

The next early morning found us starting to hate our hotel a little bit because the fire alarm went off at four in the morning, and again several times between seven and eight. When Mel asked about it later, they said it was because of the construction workers they had around to refurbish and renovate the hotel but that they’d leave at six that night and it would be fine. Tired and still somewhat disgruntled but soothed by this news, we went out on our next adventure.

This time, our way led us to our next Sherlockian point on our to-do list, the Sherlock Exhibition at the Museum of London. Compared to the Sherlock Museum it was quite the culture shock because the whole museum, including the exhibition, was so very modern. All white, shiny walls, flat screens and audio effects. For me personally, the exhibition was very interesting because it focused largely on London during Sherlock (or Doyle’s) time, showing all pictures from the time, explaining a lot about the infrastructure and means of transport. But I suppose for real fans of the books, author and screenplays, it must be quite disappointing because it touches so many aspects but never really reaches much depth with anything. The museum itself wasn’t all that fantastic, either. The only absolutely cool thing was the Victorian Way, an area where they reconstructed what an old shopping district might have looked like (in a clean indoors kind of way, at least). It wasn’t amazing but I guess in a city that has so many museums, one has to be the lame one.

After leaving the museum, we walked down to St. Paul’s. Up until then we’d been so lucky with the weather, all blue skies and a kind of sunny cold. But that day was grey and dull and even a bit rainy and I’m afraid it pressed down on my mood a little bit. Nevertheless, we walked around the church and took some pictures but refrained from going inside because the entrance fee they’re asking for these days is just rude. And either way, the outside is already stunning enough for me.

I'm gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

I’m gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

The next step took us to the National History Museum where both of us had a fangirlgasm. Mel because of the architecture and I because of the little guy you see on the left. It was my third time visiting this museum and believe it or not, I had always forgotten to go look for a raccoon! Eek!  He’s a little faded and old and doesn’t look too friendly but I still wanted to take him home. I fear a couple of Asian kids thought I’d lost it because I snapped about a dozen pictures from all angles, and only of this little fella. Well, excuuuuuse me, I’m having a moment here!

Since stuffed animals and hordes of French school kids weren’t exactly to our liking that evening, we made it our of the museum after dragging me away from the critter and then…I flew. Yup, I flew down the entrance stairs, luckily only the last step, twisted my toe and ended right on my knees. I just crouched there and mumbled something like “OMG, oh please, oh no!”, feeling like the biggest tool. Luckily there was hardly anyone around, only a woman and her kid who probably thought that the chubby woman on her knees wasn’t just clumsy but also possessed of some kind of demon. A stronger character than me would have found this hilarious because even while I was falling I thought that, hm, this is kind of a slo-mo action here. Kudos to Mel who either pretended not to notice or left me the dignity of pretending I wasn’t sniffling and hobbling around all teary-eyed while nursing my bruised ego which was the only thing that took away a serious injury. Given my weight and the angle of the fall, I already saw myself in hospital with knee caps resembling crushed crisps. I also felt phantom blood trickling down my leg all the time even though I knew it couldn’t be bleeding because not even my jeans were sticking to my knees. Back in the hotel later, I found the left one a bit swollen and bruised quite colorfully and the right showing almost no sign of the accident. By now, the left is almost black (the first time I get to know why they call it ‘black and blue’!) but walking barely hurts anymore, so I guess I’ll get around seeing a doctor this time.

Despite the fall, I bit my lip and went through the rest on our list. To be honest, since I was with someone so much fitter and more in shape than me, I had already been struggling with keeping up all the time. During most of our trip I felt a bit like Samwell Tarly on his way beyond the Wall. But hey, even he had his pride and so did I! And that’s a good thing because so much good came out of that. First of all we got to do and see a lot more than if I had listened to my body’s complaining and taken a million breaks all day. Then I could just file it under exercise. And finally, apart from losing another piece of my heart to London, I also left over two kilos there. So really, the sore muscles and aching joints were so worth it.

Hello Gorgeous!

Anyway, after my free fall performance, we finally visited Big Ben to say hello. But again, it was too dark for proper pictures, so we walked to Trafalgar Square and down Northumberland Avenue, where Mel had another Sherlockgasm over the Sherlock Holmes pub. We considered going in for a snack but found nothing tasty and vegetarian on the menu and were a little too cheap to go in just for a coke. So we pushed on and had dinner from Subway before retiring to our hotel for a super early night in because we had to get up again at two in the morning. Early flights will be the death of me.

Again, to our horror, the fire alarm went off thirty minutes after we got to our room. And again, we got a different excuse. After Mel gave them a piece of her mind, though, all was quiet and we could sleep for a while, an hour in my case.

The trip back to the airport was straight from a horror movie because we had to catch two night buses but the stop for one of them had been shown in the wrong place on the map and by the time we found the right now, we had missed the last bus. With only twenty minutes left until we had to get to our airport shuttle, we finally decided to take a cab. An excellent decision because the cabby was the nicest old-ish guy I’ve ever met. He was so calm and sweet and helped us find the right place so calmly even though we must have confused the crap out of him. Thanks to his efforts, we made it just in time. Well, we did but our shuttle didn’t. It just wouldn’t come and when the next one on the schedule arrived, I halfway expected them to tell us there was no space for us. But again, we were lucky and had a super nice driver who instantly apologized and knew there’d been a problem with the previous shuttle, so we were finally on our way to the airport where, again, we arrived only just in time for the gate to open. Apparently, luck was on our side! But can I just say: Stansted, WTF? Your departure area is more of a mall than any of our actual malls! A MAC Store? Really? I was so glad London had left me broke and out of time or I would have found death of shopping right there.

So yeah, after a surprisingly short flight (two pages read, a quick nap and ta-da, we’ve arrived!), we landed back in cold and nasty Germany where we were greeted with a round of ice-scratching and by a bunch of insane drivers on the highway. But alas, it was a very, very, very fun trip that had its little hiccups and accidents but for the most part was so good, showed me another side of London and also happened to be my very first trip with a very dear friend.

So this tale of our little adventure has to end but let me finish with our first picture together (well, one of them!) that I rambled about previously…

Categories: Uncategorized, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good

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.

Categories: Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Positivity

I’ve recently joined another fitness challenge on MFP. For some reason, this is working so much better and keeps me going so much more than anything I’ve tried before. It is a Harry Potter-related challenge run by a member who really put a lot of thought into it. The basic idea is that the participants get divided into the four houses of Hogwarts (I’m in Ravenclaw, hooray!) and earn house points for losing weight or completing exercise, food or trivia challenges. It’s in its third week now and it’s so much fun. I’ve lost a kilo through it and have pushed myself to do more and try new things at the gym.

Of course, it helps that since my vacation, I’ve had so much more energy. Normally I go through huge ups and downs. It’s like going up and down the Alps. Either I’m throbbing with energy or I can’t get out of bed. It’s as much of a physical thing as it is emotional. So far, I haven’t been people to blame it on anything specifically – hormones, thyroid, Hashimoto’s, mental instabilities, I have no idea. It doesn’t seem to come and go regularly enough to be blamed on anything. That also means I can never really see it coming and just need to make use of any amount of energy as much as I can. But now, for about two weeks, I’ve been feeling great. It’s not just about having the energy to work out. It’s also the positivity I am feeling. Normally I have a bit of a pessimistic view at life. But at the moment, I can’t help but feel better about everything, like somehow I know it is all gonna be fine eventually. I got into a bit of an argument with my boss yesterday and yes, it made me really angry and consider my options of switching jobs soon. But usually things like that would have depressed me greatly and drained all my energy. This time I bitched and moaned for a few hours, then went to the gym and sweated it out. This morning I went to work feeling perfectly fine again. It’s nice and weird at the same time. I’m going to the gym again tomorrow and I’m a little scared. Yesterday, I walked my first two miles at a pretty crisp pace (for me) on the treadmill and today, my whole body is so sore. I’ve also been using more weights for the strength workout and my shoulder hurts like whoa. I just hope it’s the good kind of pain. Would be so me to mess myself up so early on.

Of course, I’ve also made some nice plans to look forward to. Over my four weeks of vacation, I didn’t manage to go away but booked two mini vacations for later this year. In September, my mom and I were planning to go to Mallorca again. But we could only get one week off together and in that one week, prices for flights and hotel rates were ridiculous. So we thought back and forth for a while, considered other destinations for a week in the sun – and then ended up booking a trip to Vienna instead. We’re flying down on September 6th and I can’t wait. I’ve been to Vienna twice and never really got to see much even though it was absolutely stunning. My mom used to go there a few times as a kid and has basically been fangirling about it to me forever. We said we’d go there together for years and years and now it is finally happening and I’ll finally get to see Schloss Schönbrunn and the Tiergarten.

Then in October I’ll be visiting the book fair in Frankfurt with a friend. It was a really spontaneous decision. We were talking randomly and somehow got to talk about the fair. Fast forward to an hour later and we had booked a hotel room and made plans for a whole weekend in Frankfurt, including some shopping and nice dinners to catch up. Not only am I excited about the fair but also about seeing her again. She’s been one of my besties for years but we haven’t seen each other in over a year because we live so far apart.

Those aren’t exactly big holidays but I couldn’t be more excited right now. And of course, I have something big and expensive lined up for next year. But after I’ve been announcing that I want to go to California “next year” for the past three or four years, I feel it’s bad luck to be spilling the beans too early.

Categories: Bookworm, Me Myself and I, Wanderlust, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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