Ah Europe. I miss the days I could book a flgiht/buy a train ticket just a couple of days in advance, hop on a plane (or train) on the Friday of that same week, and in 2-3 hours be in a COMPLETELY different city. As I study and scramble to keep head above the water with all the commitments and insane projects, tests, and deadlines I have in school, I find myself constantly reminiscing about the year that just passed. The time I was on my year abroad in London (read my tips on that here). It has only been only 3 and a half months since i've been back in Singapore, and already the memories from my exchange feel so distant.

Europe in a year. What a wonderful year it was.
From my internship in Paris to living for a whole year in London. I thought being away from home for a year would be too long, and that living in Europe for a year would give me sufficient time to explore the continent or learn more about the region, BUT I WAS WRONG. I could live here my whole life and still be fascinated - just like how after 21 years in Asia, I'm still as excited to go out and explore a different part of the region, and there is still SO MUCH I have yet to see!

Anyway, i thought i'd pay homage to my travels in Europe and come up with a list of 5 cities i'd love to revisit again.
I have been asked countless of times which are my favourite cities in Europe, and I never say just 1 city (the list goes on until I'm sort of telling my life story). So, are the 5 cities below, my favourite European cities (that i've travelled to/toured)? Maybe? But I can't say for sure. There were so many beautiful places I visited in Europe (Italy, Barcelona, Scandinavia - see what I mean about going on and on), and so many OTHER places I want to visit.
These 5 cities could be here because
a) I didn't spend enough time when in the city when I was there and had "unfinished business"  or
b) I want to experience everything all over again, or probably both. All I know is, I enjoyed myself in these 5 cities, and would steal ANY chance to go back!

O N E:  C O R N W A L L

With places like Cornwall, the pictures itself would make anyone want to go there. Seriously though. That gorgeous skies, the beautiful beaches and, cliffs and bluest of water. Everytime I read a cornish blogger's blog, I ask myself "why am I not living in Cornwall?!" Cornwall is so huge it doesnt really classify as one city. I've only been to west Cornwall, and even then I wouldn't mind going back. But i'd love to visit South Cornwall someday, heck maybe i'd jump on a plane, spend a couple of days in London, go to Cornwall and spend 2 weeks there. Someone please buy me an air ticket!
Cornwall is a place I will not hesitate to revisit if I get the chance to be back in the UK.

T W O:  B U D A P E S T

If you saw my post titled Not Enough Time in Budapest, you would have guessed this. Budapest is a city I want to revisit just because there is so much to do, and I didnt get to do all that I wanted to. Also, the Daunbe River is but the most gorgeous thing ever. Walking around the river and looking on to the Buda (or Pest) side of it is something I could do over and over and over again.

T H R E E:  I N T E R L A K E N

One of my biggest regret after my trip to Interlaken was that I did not get to go up the Swiss Alps.
Touristic or not, everyone has done it, and it has always been my dream to visit a mountain, experience what its like to see the snow caps of the alps. Learning about the mountains and rivers during geography lessons have only fuelled my appreciation and love for all things nature. Sadly, I didn't have that much time in Interlaken and it was rather pricy, somehow the situation led to me not being able to visit the Swiss alps.

I'll definitely have to visit Switzerland again someday - and Interlaken would be a stop in that itinerary!
To be honest though, one can never get enough of Switzerland. Its just incredibly beautiful! The landscapes are PHENOMENAL. Mountains, Greenery, rivers, the blue skies, it doesn't get any better than that!

F O U R:  B E R G EN

I don't know why but despite spending the most time in Bergen during my Scandinavian solo trip, but I still want to go back! Visit the neighbouring fjords - another spectacle that one can see over and over again - climb another mountain, I don't have specific reasons why I want to go back, except... I just do? It's a really lovely, chill, city, if it wasn't that cold (and expensive haha!), i'd totally live here!

I must say though, I wouldn't want to go back alone. I'd love it if I had company so that I can try out the different cafés and food options in Bergen!

F I V E:  A M S T E R D A M

Amsterdam...The first city I visited with Jerald, the first city I visited as a tourist, the city that made me fall in love with traveling in Europe! Amsterdam was so much fun, windmills, canals, autumn flowers, burgers, cheese markets, I would relive this experience again and again - I actually do, every time I see an image of Amsterdam's canals.
+ The people in Amsterdam are so nice and friendly, and they are EXTREMELY FLUENT in English - Yay to no language barrier.

Rotterdam is another Dutch city I'd love to visit someday, if I ever do, I'd not hesitate to stop by Amsterdam again!

One other country I loved that i'd want to visit again include CROATIA. Croatia is my ULTIMATE FAVOURITE European country. But I couldn't identify ONE city to revisit, plus, if I ever do go back, I would definitely want to see other parts of Croatia that i've never been to! The nature, clear blue waters, food and PRICE POINT is AMAZING in Croatia.
P.S. If you've never been to Croatia - just forget about the cities listen above and just go. Save up and go to Croatia! You wouldn't be disappointed!

Sadly, a return flight ticket to Europe would cost $1000 and my limited university student budget isn't going to cut it, so for now, it's more of exploring the neighbouring cities, seeing more of Asia learning the different cultures, visiting exotic places in South East Asia, and exploring the place I call home. Hopefully soon enough, I can make such a list for Asia!

Ah, selecting pictures for this post got me all nostalgic about my year abroad.
Explore, dream, discover indeed!

5 European Cities I'd LOVE to RE-VISIT!

29 October 2015 Europe

WARNING: This post will be extremely photo intensive (because, Harry Potter - duh).

how the magic happened in harry potter

Last winter when my family went over to London, I decided that visiting the Warner Brother's Harry Potter Studios was a fun activity for us all. 
As we made our way there that lovely afternoon (outfit diary here!) excitements were high. The night before, we watched as many HO movies as we could just to "prepare" for the excursion. Even mummy was excited. Mummy who doesn't know much about Harry Potter (ok she knows a fair bit because we made her watch some of the movies with us).
My sister, being the book-lover was throwing out spells from the 7 books she read through and through, and my brother and I were just entertaining her, whilst talking about our favourite HP scenes.

Harry Potter studios entrance images
harry potter's house under the staircase in the harry potter studios
Display of HP LED posters Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd

When we arrived we were greeted with huge posters of the Harry Potter Cast and an enormous Christmas Tree. Everyone waiting was bubbling with excitement as we queued up beside Harry's room under the staircase, snapping pictures as we passed by.
After we entered the premises, they played an introductory clip showing us lovely visuals from the different movies. Finally, the doors swung open and we came face to face with The Grand Hall. Oh my, you could hear the gasps.
It was as grand as it could be.

Grand hall in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd Grand hall with professors in front of the hall
The table details of the grand hall in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
The table set of the Grand hall and prefects attire in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd

The Hall looked just like how it was in the movies, with food lined up at the table, figurines of Snape, Dumbledore, Mcgonagall and the other professors in the front of the room. At that moment, I know my family siblings would run free and explore the premises on their own and I wouldn't get to see them until I reached the exit.

Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd the knight bus in azkaban
Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Huge chess pieces of Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd

So I went along with mummy and explained to her the importance of the different things on the table, and the different sets we saw.
From The weasely's house, to Hagrid's, gryffindor's common room, to Dumbledore's office, Umbridge whole lot of pink things and even the Knight Bus and Human sized chess pieces in Sorcerer's stone. The sets and props were so incredibly designed, the details in the different trinkets displayed around were just beyond believe. The amount of care and time put into making sure the sets are done up to that level of detail is unimaginable.
Eventually mummy decided she was more interested in things like how they shot the flying car scene, how the costumes were designed, and so I lost her after a while and went on exploring on my own.

Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Chandelier in Gryffindor common room Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
wands and other props in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
potion room Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Dumbledore's office in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Ron weaseley's house Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Hagrid's house Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd

Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd prizoner of askaban props

But when you're in the Harry Potter Studios, you don't ever feel alone. You don't realize you're alone, because everything is so fascinating.
After passing by the huge room with the different sets and displays, I arrived at the creature shop. Creatures. You have no idea how much effort and detail goes into creating them. I always thought they were done digitally, with some avatar, CGI, computerised stuff. But when you see the individual creatures up close, wow. You will be amazed at the HP Production team. Props to the for being able to make alive the creatures in JK Rowling's imagination.
Everyone else was just so fascinated by the figure of Dobby, Hagrid, the mermaids in the Tri-wizard tournament etc.

How they made harry potter creatures come to live
Faces and heads of creatures at Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd

Exiting the creature shop, I turned a corner, and then stumbled into what seemed like the most magical set. It was my FAVOURITE part of the whole tour. Diagon Alley.
The lights were changing, and music from the HP Movies were playing over the speakers as people walk along part of the set of Diagon Alley. You literally feel like you're there, and that Harry, Hermoine, or Ron could just pass by you any minute. The wand shop, the owl shop, everything looked so real. I felt as though I was on set, in the film.

on the set of Diagon alley in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Diagon alley in Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd diagon alley

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll probably be able to guess that I'm quite into architecture. I love the whole idea of visualising something and designing or building it. So when I walked straight into the brain of the HP set designers (or what felt like it) it was just incredible. The mini models and interiors of each set were built in so much detail, so meticulously pieced together, I was going "WOW!" the entire time in my head.

set model of Harry Potter Studios, EngalndHarry Potter Studios, Engalnd interior model of dumbledore's studio

The ACTUAL wow though, came when I saw a HUGE model of Hogwarts towards the end of the tour. It was like magic in its own way. I just stopped and stared in admiration at the model. How I wished the real school of Hogwarts existed!!

Before leaving the premises of the tour, visitors entered the wand shop. THE INCREDIBLE WAND SHOP. The names on each boxes were different. The colours of the boxes were vibrant. The room was an actual shop size. I wouldn't even begin to be able to imagine this in real life. It was the best way to end the tour! Mummy was so impressed she spent much time taking photos and reading names in the room. Ending off at the wand room, and then going into the harry potter shop just makes you wanna buy every single wand. But of course... Wands aren't cheap. My sister and brother bought one each anyway, and mummy was so enthusiastic she insisted I got one too. Instead of getting a wand, I got a buttload of goodies. Which was way more exciting for me! I mean... Harry potter Candy!!! Chocolate frogs! How cool!

Wand shop of Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd
Harry Potter Studios, Engalnd. The wand shop details
Souvenir shop of Harry Potter Studios, and wands

The Harry Potter Studios is available for a visit through out the year, which is perfect. People living in the UK or London, should find some time to get down, especially if they're harry potter fans! I foresee this being one of my favourite memories with my stay in UK. No Regrets. Never.

Harry Potter Studios - How the Magic Happened!

20 August 2015 Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Watford, Leavesden, Hertfordshire WD25 7LR, UK

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