Chasing the Magic at Harry Potter Land - Universal Studios Hollywood

 

 

IMG_1828.JPG

For true Harry Potter fans, visiting Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios Hollywood is an experience like none other. 

I recently went to Harry Potter Land as a part of a birthday surprise from my bf who went above and beyond. We had an absolute blast running around the park (Instagram followers were privy to the live story.) If you are a fan and grew up reading the books, Harry Potter Land is a must-do. The attention to detail is impeccable. Everywhere we turned we found little nods to the books we loved. Of all the things to do at Harry Potter Land, the wand ceremony at Ollivander's and the Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts castle were our favorites. (And both were well worth the wait!) Plus, you can do "actual" spells with your interactive wand in Hogsmeade. It was so fun! As well as good practice for my O.W.L.S.

If you are a fan and grew up reading the books, harry potter land is a must-do.
Read on for a list of magical experiences straight from the pages of Harry Potter.

IMG_1961.JPG
IMG_1957.JPG

 

The must-do list at Harry Potter Land

get a wand

do Spells!

harry Potter & THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY ride  

drink a butterbeer  

visit the owl post  

eat at the three broomsticks

ollivander's wand ceremony  

explore hogsmeade shops

exploring hogsmeade

 

IMG_1855.JPG

I remember my first butterbeer.  

IMG_1960.JPG
IMG_1963.JPG

MY WAND "CHOOSING ME" AT OLLIVANDER'S

IMG_1962.JPG
 
IMG_1852.JPG

Action shot of me doing spells and general witchcraft in hogsmeade. 

IMG_1966.JPG
IMG_1959.JPG
IMG_1965.JPG

Inside the Owl Post (top left and right) and Honeyduke's candy shop (bottom left). 

IMG_1968.JPG
 
 

5 Essentials for Your Best Road Trip Ever

There's a sense of true freedom out on the road that's unlike any other mode of travel. You're in the driver's seat of your own adventure. Literally. Nothing stands between you and the great escape but sheer volition and the amount of gas in your tank.

On my past road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, I spoke with a recently retired couple that sold their home, their belongings, and set off in their camper with their dogs across the United States. (Goals, right? If you need to find me in 40 years, that's what I'll be up to.) Even if a country-wide drive isn't in the cards for you, there are plenty of ways to get out and explore the open road. 

To round off this little ode, I've included my top five essentials to make your next road trip the best one ever. 

Took a little drive to catch the sunrise on the Tetons. | Grand Teton National Park

Took a little drive to catch the sunrise on the Tetons. | Grand Teton National Park

A Solid road trip buddy (or buddies) 

First and foremost, pick your travel partner wisely. You know how they say, "you don't know someone until you travel with them?" Road trips take that sentiment to the next level when you're in confined space with someone for 8+ hours. Pick someone who has the same sense of adventure and travel interests as you. Equally as important, be the best road trip buddy you can be. Communicate, compromise, have a sense of humor, and have fun. 

A realistic route 

The biggest lesson in road tripping is to always budget for more time than you think you'll need. I tend to err on the side of throwing caution to the wind and "just winging it" when traveling. As it turns out, this travel style doesn't work well on road trips. I've learned that the best way to relax and enjoy the ride is to plan well and build in a "time buffer" for the trip. You don't need to set a grueling, cross-country pace to get the most out of your travels.  Besides, sometimes the best road trips are the ones that are only a few hours away from home. (Take last summer's road trip from Portland, OR to Crater Lake National Park for example.)

An actual map and written down addresses

In the age of smart phones and Google Maps— it may seem unnecessary to have a physically carry a map. But here's the thing about traveling, if you're well organized and well prepared, you can be the ultimate wayfarer your heart desires. Nothing will ruin your road trip like having your phone die and then finding yourself stranded at a fork in the road in the middle of nowhere. Reading maps is not only a resourceful skill to have, it's also pretty fun. 

Additional reading: MASTERING THE ART OF UNPLUGGED TRAVEL


Snacks

More snacks the better. (Given.)

The Rally song

Honestly, a rally song is the most important item on this list. There will come a time when you've been on the road almost fifteen hours and you need a morale pick me up. On the Pacific Coast Highway, the rally song was "Tiny Dancer". I still laugh whenever I hear the song and remember my brother and I belting the chorus out of the windows at 2 a.m. Don't stress if you can't find the perfect rally song. It will present itself in your hour of need. And you'll know it when you hear it— it's all a part of the magic of the road trip. 

Pacific coast highway FROM SAN FRAN TO L.A.  WYOMING NATIONAL PARKS •  MIAMI TO KEY WEST • WASHINGTON'S CASCADES LOOP • NEW ENGLAND COASTLINE • mONTANA'S GOING-TO-THE-SUN ROAD • savannah, GA to CHARLESTON, SC • BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY • UTAH NATIONAL PARKS • SEATTLE, WA TO BANFF NATIONAL PARK •


 
 

Photo Diary: Springtime in Seattle

paperairplaneblog_seattle.jpg

As a Pacific Northwest native, I've been up North to Portland's big sister city, Seattle, a number of times. Every time I visit this city the inexplicable happens: it's sunny, or at least partially sunny and not raining. For a city well known for "out raining" rainy Portland, this could be classified as pure luck. Take a few weekends ago, for example. 

My dear friend Rachel (and blogger extraordinaire of Love, Rachel), invited me to pal around Seattle for the weekend. We predominately hung out in Queen Anne and Ballard, exploring restaurants like La Isla for killer Puerto Rican comida, as well as a few bars and coffee shops. 

We also frequented a few classic Seattle spots such as...

Safeco Field for a Mariners game. 

Because, is there anything better than baseball season? Answer: nope. 

image.jpg
image.jpg

Pike Place Market for fresh flowers and people watching.

If you haven't been to Seattle, you have to stop at Pike Place. Sure, it can be a little crowded with tourists. That being said, Pike's is famously stuffed to the gills with local fishermen, farmers, and artisans showing off the freshest of the fresh seafood, baked goods, crafts, and more. The rainbow rows of flowers are my personal favorite. (More on getting the most out of your next stop to Pike Place coming soon!) 

image.jpg
paperairplaneblog_seattle_pikes.jpg
paperairplaneblog_pikesplace_seattle.jpg

Kerry Park for some of the best views of the city. 

Besides showcasing an amazing view of downtown Seattle, this park was featured in the (totally classic) late 90s movie 10 Things I Hate About You. 

As long as it's not raining, we count partially sunny as  "sunny" here in the Pacific Northwest.

As long as it's not raining, we count partially sunny as  "sunny" here in the Pacific Northwest.

paperairplaneblog_seattle.jpg

 

Thanks for the good times, Seattle.

I know that I'll be back for at least one more weekend trip before this year is over. Where are your favorite spots in the Emerald City? 

Adventure on, 

Chloe

P.S. Stay tuned for a few more Seattle posts and a very, ahem, spirited cocktail feature coming soon! 

Sláinte! An Irish Photo Journal of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

paperairplane_guinness_ireland.jpg

It isn't St. Paddy's Day without a pint of Guinness. 

 

Once upon a time my friend and I decided to backpack through England and Ireland for 10 days. Our time in Dublin was the highlight of the trip. At our hostel, we meet new friends who welcomed us into their group and we all ended up exploring Dublin together. Between exploring the city's sights, checking out historic pubs, and stumbling upon an amazing Irish jam band in Temple Bar (another story for another time), we had a blast. 

As it turned out, we had a free afternoon before dinner and decided to investigate the Guinness Storehouse in St. James Gate.

Entry tickets are a little pricey at €16.20 per adult, but it also includes a pint and a half of Guinness that you would otherwise be paying for at a pub.  

Once inside the 111-year-old storehouse, the history of Guinness and the brewing process unfolds through a self-guided tour of interactive features and impressive facts about the draught. Being that the Guinness Storehouse is such an iconic part of Irish history and that it has employed so many Irish men and women throughout its time, visitors can search for their ancestors in the Guinness database. 

This should go without saying, but the most fun part of the tour was learning how to pour the perfect pint and then tasting a full pint at the Gravity Bar overlooking Dublin. 

If you have a free, rainy afternoon in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse is a fun stop to learn more about the country's most iconic beer.

The best interactive station. Without a doubt. 

paperairplaneblog_guinness_storehouse_ireland.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg

 

 

 

We had a little bit of fun with the vintage Guinness signs on the advertising floor. (Pay no attention to the subliminal messaging.)

 

paperairplane_guinness_dublin_ireland.jpg

TO FAR TRAVELS AND GOOD TIMES WITH NEW FRIENDS.

image.jpg
image.jpg

 

 

Overlooking the city of Dublin and nursing my perfect pint of Guinness at last. 

 

Sláinte

 

 

If you go: 
Guinness Storehouse
Dublin, Ireland