I’ll never forget the fateful day I was at work in Los Angeles and my coworker, clearly sick of me trying to talk to her about Harry Potter, said, “Why don’t you see if there are any Harry Potter fan groups around here?”. I did a quick google search and voila, I had finally found other people on the planet who were like me. And they got together and did really nerdy stuff and were totally cool if I came by and joined them and took part in the well mannered frivolity. At that point I was just a fluffy Harry Potter fan. Soon, however, they turned me into a fluffy Doctor Who nerd, a fluffy Sherlock geek and when J.K. Rowling was unmasked as author to the Cormoran Strike novels – they were there by my side to obsess about those, too! It’s been a sweet slice of heaven. Thank you, Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army – AKA the LADA. I owe you so much.
Traveling for my fandoms, has become a very regular thing I do. It actually didn’t start with Harry Potter, but with Anne of Green Gables. Long before I even read my first Harry Potter book, I’d read every book ever published by L.M. Montgomery. So, when I finally started making a little money in La La Land, I booked my first nerdcation to Prince Edward Island, Canada to visit Anne Land.
Traveling for Harry Potter has taken me to London twice, to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Florida, to New York City for the Harry Potter Exhibition, to Portland, Oregon for a Harry Potter convention as well as cities and towns outside of London like Oxford and Lacock. This most recent trip, however, included BBC Sherlock sites and locations from the Cormoran Strike books. This last trip I was doing all of these fun sites with the Head Witch of the LADA, herself: Adrienne!
How did we attack all of these activities in and around London as members of the fluffy family? Quite easily and comfortably by hiring ourselves a private tour guide for a few hours and preplanning like crazy! Fate brought us to Graham Greenglass and London Cab Tours. Three hours with Graham was all we needed to catch up on all of our Sherlock, Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike sites – with Grahams added wisdom and knowledge about London added in. Between the two of us, the tour was affordable and worth it’s every penny, in that we didn’t have to drag ourselves up and down tube station stair cases getting to the next destination. Believe you me, we did plenty of that throughout our week in London – but the cab tour condensed what would have been two days into a few hours.
If a private tour isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of group tours out there for folks with fandoms and different interests. However, no one knows London quite like a London cabbie. No one, except Sherlock Holmes maybe.
For single destinations, like the Harry Potter and The Cursed Child play and Leavesden Studios, trains, busses and tubes are the way to go. The following is my advice in general for all three modes of transportation:
Trains – Whenever I could, I pre-booked my train tickets. This included trips from London to Leavesden and Cardiff, and tickets all across Europe. For the most part, train seats are wider and have a deeper pitch than plane seats. So already, a much more comfortable mode of transportation. The best part about most trains in Europe, is they’re rarely completely full. So I often took two seats to myself until the train seemed to fill up, and then we’d move back to two-to-a-seat. Getting in and out of trains is typically just a steep step from platform to stairs, and then 2-3 stairs up into the train. This can be difficult with luggage – and I often had to lug my 50 pound bag up the steps. Not fun, but over in 10 seconds. Sure, sometimes the aisle ways are a bit narrow, but step sideways a bit and you’re fine.
Busses – Overall super easy for fluffy folk. Usually just a single steep step or two up into the bus and seats are generally wide and comfortable. Same rule of thumb with the train, take two seats nearby each other until the bus gets busy and then move back to two-to-a-seat. Especially with a city like London, try to avoid commuter times and you’ll often find these modes of transportation roomy and with tons of space. *** If you try to move about a city like London when its locals are trying to get to or from work, you’re going to find yourself standing in a corner with a backpack smooshing you into a strangers armpit. Not to mention the hatred of the locals radiating into your soul. Best to avoid.
Tubes/Undergrounds – These can be the most convenient, yet potentially difficult ways to get around a city like London. London is all hustle and bustle and the locals aren’t really about leisurely paces. They move fast and with purpose and you can feel a bit in the way if you’re a slower walker like me. Try your best to move with traffic – and stay away from heavy flow. This is hard getting down into, and back out of the tube and underground stations. Oftentimes, like in New York City, the only way in or out is by stairs. Very few tube stations have elevators, so be prepared. You’ll find some with escalators, but again, in a city like London you won’t find people standing on escalators. They walk up and down these, too. My best advice is to keep moving however slowly or quickly you need to and oftentimes they’ll go around you if they want to. Take the elevators if you can find them but always yield your spot in an elevator to someone in a wheelchair. Tube seats are tight… I ain’t gonna lie. There are roomier handicapped seats, but again, yield these to elderly and handicapped folks. If a tube car is fullish, I’ll opt to stand, as it’s often less of a hassle than finding a seat. Oftentimes, you’re only going a stop or three so it’s just 5 minutes of standing. Again, avoiding commuter times will eliminate most worries.
Leavesden aka The Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour – is incredibly fluffy friendly. There are tons of rest stops and everything is flat and easy. PSG rating 1-2.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a small challenge for me. As you can see in the featured image of this blog, I’m much fluffier than Adrienne. We had seats very far away from each other as we didn’t book at the same time. I fought, as I always do, to get a seat for the play that was on the aisle. This way I’m able to lean away from someone if the seat is tight. I did this, but by the grace of all that is holy, I ended up having a no-show next to me at the play. This isn’t always the case – so I’m going to address theaters at a later blog as I believe it warrants it’s own topic.
Anyway, I made it happen… again. I was able to see everything I wanted to see in spite of being a Plus Sized Globetrotter. It just takes planning, patience and a bit of encouragement. As always, I want all the PSG folks out there to reach out if you have specific questions that I didn’t address. Whether you’re a fan like me and want to do London as a Nerdcation, or if you just want to see a gorgeous city — it can be challenging — but never impossible!