Sherrydayne Abroad: The unbelievable kindness of strangers

Hello fellow travelers! I’m not traveling myself, but my good friend Sherry (who I have mentioned a million times), was just on a short 3 week trip to Europe. She wrote this beautiful post about the kindness of strangers that … Continue reading

Next travel destination? You decide!

Hey followers! In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, head over to Tay at Home and take a read! Or, just look above! Yeah, I’ve scored myself an Intern position at an Ad Agency in Toronto! SUPER EXCITING! … Continue reading

Exploring the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry

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Hi all! So, today was the big day! I went to the Warner Brothers set of Harry Potter! I was alone (sad face), and felt ridiculous as a huge smile spread across my face as I stepped out of the bus and saw the building.
I had to take the metro and the overground train and a bus to get there, but I made it!
But enough about me, take a look at some of the photos I took today!
(the lighting was horrible sometimes so the pictures may not be amazing)

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Where it all began! Harry’s cupboard room under the stairs! It’s the actual set! Harry Potter slept in that bed! Ok, so it was Daniel Radcliffe and he didn’t actually sleep but the point is that these are actual sets from the movie! Oh my GOODNESS!
Next they took us into a theatre room where they showed a short film-clip with Ron, Harry and Hermione. Then, as they left the screen through a massive door, the screen lifted and that exact door was there! We all got up and walked to the entrance area, and behind the doors was…

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The Great Hall!

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It was massive! The only things missing was the ceiling showing the night sky and the floating candles. But still, it was awesome! Gave my Harry Potter – obsessed spirit a flutter!
Next:

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Oh, and the Entrance to the Griffon Stairwell is huge!

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Snape’s potions classroom was eerie and dark and the spoons in the potions stirred the pots all by themselves, it was like…magic.

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Check out the horcrux–Tom Riddle’s Diary–and it’s demise, the basilisk fang!

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And who could forget the Remembrall (tee hee, get it?) or the Time Turner and the all-important Golden Snitch!?

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I also got up-close to the clock of the clock tower!

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Despite lacking the proper passwords, I snuck past the sleeping portraits and got a glimpse of Dumbledore’s office…

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Then I snuck out of the castle with my invisibility cloak and visited Hagrid’s Hut!

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Then it was time to venture into the Chamber of Secrets…

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I saw Hagrid’s very loud motorcycle…

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…then visited the Weasley’s at The Burrow.

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I then visited the Ministry of Magic and saw all of the propaganda written by Rita Skeeter in the Daily Prophet!

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And yes, above is the actual Marauder’s Map used in the movies! Someone forgot to say ‘Mischief Managed’ the last time it was used…

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Butterbeer Time!
It tasted like warm butterscotch. I’m pretty sure it’s actual butter foamed on top, but I had to try it. Personally I think they could have come up with something a bit more creative…sorry Warner brothers! Oh, I did get to keep the souvenir cup!

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Tom Riddle’s grave…spooky!
Then a few more famous props: the flying car and the quiet house of number four private drive.

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Next it was time to go behind the scenes of props and makeup!

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Next it was time for Diagon Alley!

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Then we walked through a gallery of paintings/drawings by people who came up with the visual world of Harry Potter. Just by reading J.K. Rowling’s words they imagined the entire world of Harry Potter: character features, costumes, buildings, trains, cars, fight scenes–everything!

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Now we’ve come to my favourite part of the entire tour! The Hogwarts Castle. It is not only a model, but the model that was used in filming! Honestly, how do I get into film making, because it is amazing what they do! Eight weeks to build this massive model!

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Then a quick stop in the wand shop before heading into the ridiculously over-priced, and very cheesy, gift-shop.

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£9 for a small bag of jelly bellies! Ludicrous!
Anyways, that was my tour through Harry Potter! My recommendation: get the audio guide! I didn’t, but I saw people walking with it (aka bumping into me constantly and standing in the way) and there seemed to be a lot more on there than what they offer just walking around.
Ps got a group pic of the MacBackpackers Scotland Tour! Check it out!

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I Found Nessie!

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Hellooooooo!!! Wow, it has been an amazing couple of days in Scotland. Above is a picture of Duncan, our lovely tour guide, and I at Loch Lubneig. I booked a tour through MacBackpackers tour group a few weeks back because … Continue reading

Road Trip Day Three: West to the Surf

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Check out Day One and Day Two of this amazing last-minute road trip! The last day of our trip was a bit different. We read about a beach that was hidden down a dirt-road just outside of the town Raposeira, … Continue reading

Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

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Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

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Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

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We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

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We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

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Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

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Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

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Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

Day Trip: Guimarães, Portugal

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Before coming to Portugal, I knew little about the country. I knew it was beside Spain, that the language was Portuguese and that the capital was Lisbon. So, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Portugal to discover that it … Continue reading

Rainy day in Porto, Portugal

I decided a while ago that I wanted to go to Porto. The TBU conference was held here this year, and after reading many positive reviews I knew I would probably love it.
Unfortunately, many people in Lisbon looked at me like I was crazy when I sai I wanted to spend 3 days there. ‘You’ll be bored after two’ was the common response.
I refused to be discouraged.
I took an evening train from Lisbon (30 euro, a bus is 19 euro and has wifi) and got into Porto around 10 o’clock. It was dark and it was raining. Considering I have seen very little rain so far during my trip, I was a bit disappointed. Then, I had a hard time figuring out the transit system.
I felt lost. I had also just left some of the most amazing friends in Lisbon, so I was feeling lonely. But, I refuse to have another massive cell-phone bill (read more about that here).
I found my way to The Spot Hostel in about an hour, but only after arriving at the quietest metro ever! I was petrified!

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I got a good nights rest, and woke up the next day determined to explore no matter what the weather.
First, I had to go buy shoes. I left my hikers in Lisbon as I only brought a small bag for this portion of my trip. Silly girl. That’s okay though, I needed to buy more regular looking shoes anyway. I ended up buying a 25 euro pair of casual sneakers, an 8 euro umbrella, and 5 pairs of socks for 7 euro. Not too bad!
Then, I headed to the famous Majestic Cafe on Rue Santa Catarina.

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It has been open since 1923, not having changed it’s interior since then. It was truly beautiful, and a nice break from the rain.
But, be warned, it is expensive! I had already been wandering around though, and needed a small bite too since the hostel served ham and cheese and bread for breakfast (fail!).
I decided to treat myself to an American style coffee and some scones with cream and jam. Healthy? Nope. But it was the least expensive thing on the menu.
Oh my, was it ever delicious. The scones were served hot, the jam came in a small glass jar, and the cream was so sweet. Heaven.

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After, I headed a street over to the Marcado do Bolhão. It was what I expected: butchers, fresh fish stands, fruits and veggies and flower shops.

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And then a pleasant surprise: a store selling vegan/vegetarian food! I have been pleasantly surprised in Portugal with all of the vegan alternatives and how readily available they are!

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Armed with my umbrella, new shoes and a full stomach, I headed back to the hostel to pick up Andy (met him at Gspot he came along to Porto). We decided to head out and explore and grab some food. Thankfully the rain let up so despite the lack of sun it was warm and we were dry.
We saw some sights and got lost in the smaller streets of Porto. We walked by a restaurant and the woman saw us looking at the menu and invited us in. She was so pleasant! I had bacalhaul braga and it was excellent! It doesn’t look like much much believe me it was yummy!

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For a glass of wine, my meal, some starter codfish thing (?) and a coffee I paid 8 euro! Not bad!
Next we just wandered down to the water front and took some photos. I wandered into a touristy port/olive shop and was very tempted to make a purchase! But I’m going to wait for the port tasting.

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So far, I’m really enjoying Porto. The weather obviously makes it a bit more difficult to enjoy it, but so far I love the alternativeness of it. It’s less touristy, and I’m excited to visit the rua Miguel Bombarda area! Art galleries, cafes and book stores!
For those of you who know Alberta at all, Lisbon is the Calgary of Portugal, while Porto is like Edmonton. I think Porto is best appreciated over time, when you’ve had a chance to find the quirky cafes and hidden gems.

Hola Lisbon, Portugal

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First impression of Lisbon (Lisboa): just another big city. BUT, after less than 24 hours in the city I realized that Lisbon is described as one of the best cities in Europe for several reasons. My hope is that by … Continue reading

Roaming charges

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Do you see in the sidebar to the right where it says ‘cry’? Well this is one of those moments.
Well, it’s more a crying on the inside moment because there is little I can do about it right now.
I wrote a post before I left about using your iPhone abroad.
The good news: the tips and advice I have are still good!
The bad news: I didn’t follow my own advice for a mere 15 minutes while in Paris.
It was September 14. I arrived in Paris and I had no hostel booked, was overwhelmed by the large city, and had been turned away from a hostel I hoped to just show up at. I was alone and I was sad.
I called my best-friend.
And no, that wasn’t the expensive part of this ordeal. A 25 minute conversation cost me only $50! Not bad!
But, I was still lost, and in this state of panic I foolishly turned on my data to check my google maps.
Honestly, it was on for no more than 15 minutes!
But alas, two days ago I got a wonderful bill from Rogers for over $700! And, nearly $600 of that is just in data roaming.
One day. One fifteen minute period of panic. One moment of panic that has cost me dearly.
Is Rogers to blame? Right now I want to call them and say some very choice words. But, I was warned.
What are your thoughts? I don’t think I should have to pay $700 to Rogers considering I’ve been a loyal customer for over 10 years. Think they’ll take 50% off for me to ease the blow?
This is definitely one of those kicking-myself-in-the-ass moments.