Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Snitches and Broomsticks and House Elves - Oh My!

So the time has come. The time has come when I talk about London's newest tourist craze. The latest addition to London's over-priced, over-hyped tourist circuit.

When I started reading J. K. Rowling's boy wizard series almost 15 years ago I remember saying to a friend of mine that the dual magical/muggle world would make for a brilliant theme park. Now, all these years later, there is a theme park in Florida and close enough to one (minus the rides) just outside of London.

I am, of course, talking about The Making of Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour. Cue the screams of Potter maniacs, who, you should know, are not all under 30. Under 30? You say. That seems fairly old. It's a kids' movie. And yes, I grant you, Harry Potter is for kids, but those of us who read the books before they were a world-wide sensation are *shock! horror!* getting awfully close to 30 these days. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published in 1996, meaning that children of the 80s were at prime Potter age.
Staircase to Dumbledore's office

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Icelandic Vittles

At the end of our first full day in Iceland, we came up against the dilemma that all travelers must face eventually: where to eat dinner. I am certain that this causes the breakdown of many a traveling partnership. Someone wants Italian and the other reckons they can eat pizza anywhere - why not embrace the local culture and tradition? Why not, indeed.

The answer from the oh, so very helpful woman at the front desk of our hotel? You know Icelandic food is traditionally disgusting, right? Putrefied shark and things?

The Pearl

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Truth About the Blue Lagoon

We reserved day two of our trip for the quintessential Iceland experience. I speak, of course, of the Blue Lagoon. Famed hot springs and must-do, unmissable activity when in Iceland. We had the ultimate relaxing day there, floating around in the very hot water, so hot as to be uncomfortable in some places, getting a floating massage and enjoying the moonscape.
Now, I promised you a shocking truth about the Blue Lagoon and I do not intend to disappoint you, dear reader. Iceland owes its dramatic landscape to the fact that it is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and a hot spot of geological activity. This means that over 90% of the energy used in Iceland is green geothermal energy. The naturally hot water from the earth is pumped through power plants where it warms clean water for use in homes and businesses and creates electricity. When the water has gone through the Svartsengi energy plant just south of Reykjavik it goes...
Photo courtesy of www.bluelagoon.com

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

QE - Who?

This weekend, as London went bananas for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, we made a break for it. Saturday evening we hopped a plane and took off for Reykjavik, Iceland. Ooooh. How exotic. How exciting. Yes, yes it was. We had a fantastic long weekend and I, in no way, feel like I missed out by not seeing the floating security show of the Queen's flotilla.

In full disclosure, I must admit that Union Jack bunting hung from our balcony this weekend. Oh, the shame. A very enthusiastic woman came to the door one evening when I was out and convinced my laid back husband to let her hang it. Why on earth he let an unknown royalist into our home is beyond me, but being new to the neighbourhood and out of town for the festivities I decided to take a deep breath and let it go. Never did I think I would face a dilemma of whether to keep unsolicited Union Jack bunting on display. But I did and I think I may have failed that nationalist test. I flew the flag of my homeland's former occupiers. Perhaps I should fly the Irish flag from now on in an act of patriotic penitence. I did take great pleasure in throwing the bunting in the trash today, though, so perhaps that redeems me somewhat. When in Rome and all that crap.

I found Iceland less rife with moral and political quandaries.
The original geyser, Geysir