Life · travel

Wizarding World of Harry Potter weekend!

I did it. I finally got my letter to Hogwarts. And by “got my letter” I mean I paid a bunch of money for tickets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I’ve been a fan of the series for 20 years now and have been dying to visit the theme park ever since it opened. Let me just tell you, after years and years of waiting, it was everything I hoped it would be.

For my first day I got park-to-park passes, which allowed me to ride the Hogwarts express between the two theme parks. Walking thorough the brick wall and stumbling onto Diagon Alley was exactly like I always imagined it was in the books. It felt just like Harry’s first visit where he was simply in awe of everything and didn’t know where to look next. Standing there, looking at all the shops around me, with the sounds of the workers inside the Daily Prophet spilling out of the door next to me, children wearing their house robes and waving their wands, and seeing the dragon perched atop Gringotts in the distance, my eyes honestly got a little teary. The only thing missing was Hagrid.

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I spent my morning walking around Diagon Alley, checking out all the shops and amazing window displays. I heard the bird chirping from inside the vanishing cabinet at Borgin & Burkes, where I went to look at dark and dangerous artifacts. I chuckled at the U-No-Poo and Puking Pastilles display at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and watched a toy version of Delores Umbridge wheel overhead on a unicycle, shouting “I will have order.” I watched the wand ceremony at Ollivanders, spotted a Crumble-Horned Snorkack in the Magical Menagerie, and had an enchanted mirror tell me how lovely I was in Madame Malkin’s. I had my very first butterbeer (and butterbeer mustache) and ate lunch at The Leaky Cauldron. I also rode the Escape from Gringotts ride inside the bank, which was super cool! Every detail in the park was so spot on and true to the books that I was simply blown away.

Outside Diagon Alley were some other familiar sights. I caught a glimpse of Kreacher in the window at number 12 Grimmauld Place and took a look inside the Knight Bus before making my way over to Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station. The short train ride was a fun, mini ride (although the voice they used for Hermione sounded nothing like her), which brought us right into Hogsmeade station.

To be honest, I was slightly less impressed with Hogsmeade overall. It was cool to check out, but there was less to do there and less stuff to look at. I did pay a visit to Honeydukes while I was there though to buy some fun sweet treats to bring back to my hotel room. (I tried the exploding bon bons and peppermint toads.) Of course, the piece de resistance was a visit to Hogwarts castle. *squeeee* The ride inside Hogwarts was awesome (despite the fact that I got slightly motion sick, lol). I wish I could have gotten a video or some photos of the Quidditch pitch, the whomping willow, or the dementors for you guys. Just trust me that it was a fantastic ride. You’ll need to ride it yourselves some day if you can stomach it.

I went back to Diagon Alley my second day and revisited some of my favorite spots. I also decided to give butterbeer softserve a try…at 9 in the morning…because I can do whatever I want on vacation. 🙂 Honestly, I liked the butterbeer ice cream even more than the liquid version, which was a little too sweet for me.

I checked out a little bit of the rest of the Universal parks while I was there, but none of it was as special to me as the Wizarding World parts of the parks. I was exhausted and a little tired of people and lines by the time I went home Monday morning, but I loved every minute of my visit and can’t wait to go back someday.

Books · food · Life · travel · Writing

Step into the Multiverse

I’m back from a trip to the multiverse! This past weekend I went to Atlanta to attend Multiverse Con. What is Multiverse Con, you ask? It’s a newer convention for lovers and creators of fantasy and sci-fi. There were some amazing panels that I attended on Saturday, mostly about writing and story telling. My favorite was probably the “In Conversation with Seanan McGuire” panel, which was basically just a bunch of us sitting around firing questions at Seanan (who is a freaking delight!). I met some incredibly talented and inspiring people – both authors and fans alike – over the weekend. You know I also came home with several books in tow. 🙂

The rest of my time in Atlanta was spent exploring some of the cool neighborhoods, going to the aquarium, and eating a lot of delicious food. (Because half the fun of visiting new places is trying new food.) Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures at the con, so you’ll have to settle for these instead:

Life · travel

September At Last

In my last post I expressed all my disdain for cranberries, chronic pain, and depression. Let’s talk about some positive things this time, shall we?

It’s finally September! You know what that means! I’m sure a few of you are yelling “Back to school” and while you’re technically right, it’s way more exciting than that. (Although, I’m not a parent. Maybe back to school time is a huge relief for you. I’m not judging.) September is the beginning of Halloween season!!! Those who have been following my blog for a few years now know that I am obsessed with Halloween. Why, you ask? BECAUSE IT’S THE GREATEST TIME OF THE YEAR. Over the next 2 months I’ll be posting lots of Fall/Halloween reading recommendations, as well as other related topics.

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…Consider yourselves warned.

In other exciting news, Boyfriend and I are going on a much needed vacation next week. It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of months with all that’s going on at work and my mental health dragging me down. I am more than ready to get away for a while. We were originally trying it plan a trip to Paris, but, alas, the stars (and prices) were not aligning, so we will be going to Portland and Seattle instead. I loved my first visit to Portland and can’t wait to get to explore more if it this time. I promise, there will be lots of pictures from the stacks at Powell’s, mountain views, and delicious food when we get back.

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Lastly, I have a very important announcement that I need to share with you all: My cat, Merlin, is adorable.

You’re welcome.

Books · food · Life · travel

New York/BookCon 2019 Weekend (part 2)

Earlier in the week I told you all about the amazing time I had at BookCon this year, but I didn’t get to tell you about the rest of my fabulous weekend in New York. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I love New York City – the sights, the sounds, the people, the endless amount of things to see and do, and (most of all) THE FOOD. I could have easily spent the rest of my week there and still wouldn’t have been ready to come home.

I arrived Friday morning and made a beeline for Chelsea Market, which, in my humble opinion, is one of the best food/shopping halls in the country. While I was there I downed a huge bowl of delicious, thick hand-pulled noodles with cumin-lamb sauce, immediately followed by a black-and-white cookie (a childhood favorite of mine). Definitely not a bad start to my trip.

After checking onto my AirBnb I spent several hours wandering the streets of the city, hitting up old favorites and new places that I wanted to check out. One of my favorites was a bookstore called Kinokuniya. The bottom floor was filled with nothing but books in Japanese and a huge selection of stationary and Asian-themed gifts. The second floor was packed with English books of every genre, including tons of Japan-focused books (the cookbook section was amazing!). The top floor was packed with nothing but English and Japanese language manga, graphic novels, and anime. If there weren’t a dozen other places I wanted to visit, I would have easily spent half of my day in that store.

That night I ate Japanese curry and paid a visit to one of my favorite bakeries, Bibble & Sip, where I got a white chocolate-matcha cream puff, plus Totoro and Lucky Alpaca macarons.

BookCon took up most of my days on Saturday and Sunday. When I wasn’t hanging out with all the other book nerds, I was eating more delicious food and simply enjoying my surroundings. By the time Monday morning rolled around I was tired from all the walking and adventures, but it was worth every minute (and calorie). 🙂

Books · travel

Wanderlusting: Bookstores Around the World (Part 2)

It’s time for another round of overdue bookish wanderlust. 🙂

Libreria Acqua Alta (Venice, Italy) – The name literally translates to “bookstore of high water.” Due to the high rising waters in Venice, the shop owner decided to pile all of the shop’s merchandise into bathtubs, canoes, and various other types of waterproof containers so that the his precious books would not be destroyed. I imagine it’s quite difficult to actually find things this way, but I’d still love to check it out someday!

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid (Buenos Aires) – A bookstore in an old theater! Tell me this doesn’t look like a dreamy place to get lost for an afternoon.

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Parnassus Books (Nashville, Tennessee) – Definitely not the most visually stunning on my list of bookstores, but I’ve heard so many wonderful things about author Ann Patchett’s shop. They do lots of events showcasing well-known and local authors, carry a large selection of fiction and non-fiction titles, and even have a bookmobile that delivers books to the community. (I wish we had a mobile bookstore like that!)

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Need some more bookish wanderlusting? Check out Part 1!

Books · food · Life · travel

How YOU doin’?

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It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, so I thought it would be good to check in. I’ve been super busy lately with work, as this is our busiest time of the year. Between the extra hours worked and the stress of it all, I often come home and act like a giant slug in the evenings. Fortunately, we only have about two more weeks of this nonsense and then things should be returning to normal.

Despite the craziness at work, I’ve actually been feeling a lot better lately. I’ve been incorporating some alternate forms of medicine into my routine, plus more daylight hours means I have more capability to get outside and exercise. Winter is a rough time for people with depression, but fortunately I think I’m pulling myself back out of it again.

Boyfriend and I took an overnight trip to Raleigh this weekend for some exploring and shenanigans. The majority of the trip was spent consuming ridiculously delicious food (Morgan Street Food Hall is amazing!) and going to the Museum of Natural Science. Of course, we also paid a visit to one of my favorite independent bookstores, Quail Ridge Books.

 

What I’m currently reading:

Books · Life · travel

Wanderlusting: Bookstores Around the World (Part 1)

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a wanderlust post. Don’t worry, it’s not because I’m losing my sense of adventure or desire to travel. I’ve actually been planning and researching for the upcoming trips I’ll be going on this year.

There are two things I look for first when considering a place to visit: the culinary scene and how many bookstores they have. As a proclaimed foodie and bibliophile, these are the things that speak most to me. They call me late in the evening and whisper in my ear whilst I’m asleep. “Come to me!” they say. And I listen.

Perhaps I will do a future series of posts about all the foodie destinations I plan to visit someday, but for now, since this is primarily a book blog, I’ll focus on the bookstores.

Eliot Bay Books (Seattle, Washington) – There isn’t much history to this one, but I’ve heard it’s the best bookstore in Seattle.

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Shakespeare and Company (Paris, France) – This one has been around since 1919. The apartment upstairs housed several famous authors over the years, like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Boyfriend and I will definitely be visiting this one when we visit Paris in the Fall.

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Livraia Lello (Porto, Portugal) – One of the most stunning bookstores in the world, the neo-Gothic building was said to have been the source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts.

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The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles, California) – Lots of quirky character packed into this store, in addition to a quarter-million new and used titles. I can’t even imagine how many people go here every year just to take pictures under the tunnel of books.