Hayden’s Page 2016

It’s The End of The Trip As We Know It

Remember how my post from two days ago was completely and entirely devoted to the Beatles?

This one is completely and entirely devoted to Harry Potter!

Today we rode a London Midland train (not this one) to a suburban station and boarded a shuttle bus to the Warner Brothers studio complex, where all of the props, sets, and costumes from all eight films are housed. Pretty awesome.

The Great Hall!

The Gryffindor dormitory!

Dumbledore’s office!

Snape’s classroom!

The door to the Chamber of Secrets!

The Black family tapestry!

The Hogwarts Express, a fully functional 1937 Great Western Railway 4-6-0 class steam engine!

The Marauder’s Map!

The Dursleys’ living room!

Hagrid’s motorcycle!

The flying Ford Anglia!

Diagon Alley (a completely indoor set!)

Annnnnnnnnnnnd….a 1:24-scale model of Hogwarts in its entirety, used for all the panorama and Quidditch scenes in all the movies.

Incredibly intricate.

Just plain awesome.

Unfortunately, this will be the final post from Hayden’s Page 2016. Our return flight to Philadelphia departs early tomorrow morning. From everyone at Team Strong, thanks for tuning in.

- Hayden M. Strong

The Children Assert Their Dominance

This is us, in a seven-story toy store, one of the largest in the world.

Wondering why that was a part of our vacation? Because we (“we" being Violet and myself) got to choose everything we did today. Remember that promise of random stuff to come? 

Well, here it is!

We started out at Holland Park Playpark (that awesome playground from the post entitled “Yay! I Am No Longer On A Plane”).

Me on the zipline.

Then we took an Über car to Regent Street, home to Hamley’s toy store. (This is actually the second time I’ve been. The last time was eight years ago. Read about it under Hayden’s Page 2008, My Day at the Huge Toy Store. That concludes this brief infomercial.)

Seven floors of toys and games, although unfortuantely the giant Hot Wheels car isn’t there anymore. Instead, we took a picture in a giant Underground car.

Next, we ate lunch and took the Underground to the British Museum.

The real Rosetta Stone! Not a replica, reproduction, or reconstruction.

A huge statue of Ramesses II!

A Lykian (a part of Greece) temple to the Nereids (sea spirits)!

The original panels of the Parthenon!

A beautiful carved horse’s head!

An Easter Island statue!

A Mesoamerican carving of a snake!

The British Museum is way cooler than I expected and has stuff from all over the world. Greece, Rome, Egypt, Peru, Sudan, Iran…the list goes on. A great representation of artifacts from all sorts of ancient civilizations, from the Aztecs to the Ming Dynasty.

Sounds like a pretty fun day, doesn’t it? KID POWER!

- Hayden M. Strong

Why is This City Named After a Pool of Liver?

If you’re not a Beatles fan, I advise you to turn back now, because this page is one of the most complete collections of Beatlemania ever compiled.

Still with me? Excellent. Let’s proceed.

This actually happened yesterday. It’s pretty much the only thing we did yesterday, though, so don’t complain about not getting a post. Unless you want to hear about every single store we went to in order to buy Mom new pants, the combining of the day’s posts is for the best.

Today, however, was a bit more interesting. We rode a brand-new Virgin Trains trainset (an Alstom Pendolino) at 135 mph from Euston Station to Liverpool’s Lime Street Station. There, our guide met us and we began our tour of the city. To begin, we did a quick panorama of the city.

John Lennon’s birthplace, now converted into student accomodations at Liverpool’s local university.

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, owned by Paul McCartney.

A statue outside LIPA, with the Magical Mystery Tour bus in the background.

Me signing my name on Ringo Starr’s old house. The whole block is unfortunately slated for demolition.

Ringo's next childhood home.

Us at Penny Lane.

The real yellow submarine!

Me, actually getting to play one of John Lennon’s first guitars.

Us at Strawberry Fields.

That’s about everything Beatley we did…except this.

Oh, yeah.

Liverpool is an awesome city, full of cool architecture, both new and old.

St. George’s Hall, a huge convention center-kind of place currently being used for filming of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Neo-Classical with Corinthian columnades.

An office building on the banks of the Mersey, in the Neo-Deconstructivist style.

Liverpool One, a brand-new apartment building. Post-modernist, with a simultaneously narrowing and twisting façade. The spandrels alternate in thickness and the piers are canted. Pretty awesome.

One of the “Three Graces”, three huge stone buildings on the Mersey river. Georgian, Neo-Gothic, and I don’t even know what that one on the end is. Art Nouveau, maybe? That’s a lot of domes.

Hagrid’s flying motorcycle in Harry Potter!

Liverpool was pretty sweet. Situated on the banks of a two-mile-wide river, a mix of grand 20th-century buildings, retro-industrial and country homes, and full of interesting history.

Tomorrow, we’re going to do a bunch of random stuff in London. So get ready for random stuff!

- Hayden M. Strong

Brussels, Without the Sprouts

Who wants to read about another pair of rides on the Eurostar? Nobody? Well, too bad. Today we took an Über car (for some reason, they almost always seem to be black Vauxhall Insignias) to St. Pancras International Station. We then boarded another high-speed Eurostar train. After a brief stop in Lille, France, we arrived at Gare Bruxelles-Midi.

All this at 186 MPH. A hundred and eighty-six! These trains are amazingly fast but incredibly smooth. In short, they’re awesome.

Our guide picked us up in a tiny Ford Fiesta subcompact and drove us to our first destination, the Atomium. Built in the 1958 World’s Fair, it’s a massive replica of an iron molecule. Yes, it has an observation deck, and no, we didn’t go up in it. 

Our next stop was the European Union’s headquarters, nicknamed the Jukebox.

We walked through the Parliament Museum, which was really cool.

The European Union is pretty impressive. All the different countries, hundreds of miles apart, countless languages and cultural differences and they all cooperate to pass laws and whatnot. If the United States were fifty different sovereign nations, I’m pretty sure there would be no United States.

Our next destination was Autoworld, one of the largest automobile museums in the world. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of photographs, because I took pictures of everything.

A Hispano-Suiza!

A Delahaye!

A Citroen 2CV!

A really awesome old BMW!

An Alfa Romeo!

A Lincoln Continental Mark II next to a ’58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham!

A Mercedes 180-class!

An Isetta!

A Jaguar XK140!

A Bugatti!

A ’59 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible!

A Packard V-12!

A Testarossa!

A 308 GTB!

A Corvette Stingray!

and…a Pacer.

Now that approximately 75 percent of my post has been devoted purely to automobiles, let us proceed!

Our next stop was Brussels’ city center. There’s a lot of stuff here, so I’ll try and cover everything.

An amazingly intricate old church.

The buildings of the city center.

Another city center building.

Yet another city center building. 

The center is pretty impressive. After eating a delicious Belgian waffle, we headed back to the train station and boarded our Eurostar back.

All in all, a fun little day trip. It’s amazing how easy the high-speed trains make travel. Before the Channel Tunnel’s advent in 1993 we would’ve had to ride a ferry across the Channel or else fly. Now, we can wake up in London, spend the day in Belgium, and come back in time for dinner.

So long for now,

- Hayden M. Strong

Insert Clever Title Here

All right, let’s get this over with. I know you’re all saying “Come on, Hayden! You can at least come up with a half-decent title for this post!”

Well, for the record, coming up with a descriptive and informative, but also mildly amusing title, all in the space of ten words or so, is hard. You try weaving “Tower of London” and “National Gallery”, along with “subway” and “inclement weather”, into a hilarious one-line title.

See? You can’t! So don’t go complaining about my lack of a title.

Today, we rode the Underground (that’s right, no Über cars or Mercedes vans today) to Tower Hill station and walked to the Tower of London. Originally constructed in the 1200s, this mighty fortress has served as a prison, a royal palace, and even a mint. Today, it houses the Crown Jewels of England. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of them. Rats.

The fortress is mainly comprised of stone towers, but some Tudor-style dwellings and a few ordinary-looking houses also lie within the walls. The tower was originally surrounded by water and today sits in the middle of London’s central business district.

Old houses with the Shard in the background.

30 St. Mary Axe, better known as the Gherkin. What does this building have to do with the Tower? Nothing. I just felt like taking a picture of it.

After a quick Underground ride, we arrived at the National Gallery.

The Gallery was quite crowded, but we were still able to see some amazing artworks, including a whole room of Monets. After we toured the Gallery, we rode an Über car back to our house. (Remember when I said no Über cars today. I lied. Sorry.)

Thank you for reading.

- Hayden M. Strong

Parisians In The Mist

Today’s post is a brand-new, low-production, specialty limited-edition Hayden’s Page. For just one day only, you can follow not one, but two days of our travels - in one post! That’s right, you’re getting TWO for the price of ONE!

Okay, that’s thirty seconds. The advertisement just ended. Now back to our regularly scheduled Hayden’s Page.

Our adventures in Paris began yesterday morning, when we boarded a 186-mph Eurostar train at London St. Pancras International Station.

These trains are FAST. They’re so fast that every time you go in a tunnel your ears pop. After a 2 1/2 hour ride, part of which was underwater in the Channel Tunnel, we arrived at Paris’ Gare du Nord train station. We took an Über car to our hotel, the Hotel Chambiges-Elyseés. Our room was oddly shaped but nice, and the beds were very comfortable.

After napping, a Volkswagen van picked us up. (A shiny new VW van. Our tours are not conducted in rainbow-painted Type 2 Transporters with peace-sign headlights.) 

It was absolutely pouring for our entire tour, so most photographs were taken from inside said van. Here’s a brief overview of what we covered, in photographic form.

The Grand Hospital, built by Napoleon.

A Neo-Classicized church, complete with Greek columnade.

The Sacre-Coeur cathedral in Montmartre.

A panorama from the top of a hill.

The view from the restaurant we ate at, a great little Italian food place. The margherita pizza was so good I ate a whole pizza.

A stunningly beautiful portrait of my sister, taken by me.

The EIffel Tower from the banks of the Seine.

The tower in the clouds. As you can see, the entire city was blanketed by fog and mist. 

The tower covered in sparkling lights at midnight. 

Yes, I said midnight. We stayed up incredibly late last night, but the pictures we took were so worth it.

All we did today was ride the Eurostar back and sit around in our house. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to do tomorrow, so stay tuned!

- Hayden M. Strong

A Museum of Rocks and a City of Bathtubs

Today, our same driver from yesterday, Jeff, picked us up in a grey Volkswagen van, and we drove two and a half hours to Salisbury Plains. There, we met our guide, Cheryl, and rode a bus to the Stonehenge British Historic Site.

Stonehenge is a lot bigger than I’d imagined. The large stones are around twenty feet tall and the site is around three thousand years old.

We know the stones are from a quarry about 140 miles away, but we don’t know how they got them here. The larger stones weigh over 250 metric tons. They used to be arranged in rings and spirals, and the stones lie perfectly on the line where the sun travels on the equinoxes and solstices.

The stones were used for burials, but other than that we don’t know what they’re for. Why were the stones dragged so far? Why are they arranged in these shapes? Why were they stacked so precisely? We may never know the answers. 

Theories range from an ancient people erecting a monument at an important astrological site to aliens landing in sophisiticated spaceships and moving rocks around for no good reason.

After Stonehenge, we drove across the Salisbury Plain to the city of Bath.

Bath is built around the only bubbling hot springs in Britain. The Romans constructed an elaborate bath around these springs, full of underground channels and drains. Most of them still operate today. 

Our first destination in Bath was the city’s namesake, the Roman Baths.

Only the lowest level is original here. The columns, statues, balustrades and side buildings were all added during the Victorian era. 

The baths here were some of the most elaborate in the Roman empire. The complex featured a warm influx of water, a sauna, a steam room, cold, warm, and hot rooms, two temples, and a gymnasium. Water entered the complex through a channel, first to the Pool of the Gods and then into the Great Bath.

Then, the water drains through a sluice gate into the other baths. This is the hot room. The mosaic-tiled floor is set above a furnace that heats the room from above.

After passing through the rooms and eventually into the Cold Plunge, where the water has cooled significantly, the water passes through a waterfall and a channel:

and eventually into the Great Drain. 

The Drain leads out to a canal that then drains to the River Avon.

After exploring the Baths, we checked out the rest of the city.

Bath is a beautiful city, a blend of classical, Victorian, Georgian and Modernist architecture. After driving through the city, we hit the road and drove back to London. We spent about five hours in the van an according to my Fitbit, I walked about two miles, which doesn’t sound like a lot but combined with the car ride was plenty exhausting. Tomorrow, we ride the Eurostar high-speed train from St. Pancras Station into Paris, where we’ll be spending a day and a half.

Thank you for commenting on my previous posts. I really enjoy reading feedback.

- Hayden M. Strong

The City of Ferris Wheels, Black Cabs, and Large Clocks

Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture with all three.

Today’s tour was one of the most interesting I’ve taken. Our guide, Joe, picked us up in a Volkswagen (that’s right, not Mercedes) van, and drove us to Trafalgar Square.

Us, standing by the lions beneath Nelson’s Column.

No climbing on said lions.

The column itself.

After Trafalgar Square, we saw the Houses of Parliament and the Queen Elizabeth II Tower (more commonly known as Big Ben.)

The Houses of Parliament.

Us in front of Big Ben.

After that, we saw the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Overtouristed? Sure. But it is pretty impressive and lives up to the hype.

As we were driving to our next destination, we saw the Prime Minister’s car go by!

Leadenhall Market is a massive complex of shops covered by a beautiful Victorian-era glass roof. 

A lot of the filming for the Harry Potter movies was done around here:

The Leaky Cauldron (the blue building.)

Twelve Grimmauld Place.

The entrance to the Ministry of Magic.

After getting a bite to eat at another open-air market (Borough Market) we drove over London Bridge, which isn’t the original London Bridge. It was built in the early 1960s and is really boring-looking. But it does have some great views of nearby Tower Bridge.

We passed through London’s business district and got some views of the skyline.

20 Fenchurch Street, an office building nicknamed “The Walkie-Talkie”.

The Lloyd’s of London Building, nicknamed the “Inside Out Building”. All the air-conditioning, stairwells, ventilation, electrical conduits, water and gas pipes, and even the elevators are mounted on the outside.

The Shard, London’s tallest building.

Afterwards, our guide dropped us off on the south bank of the Thames. We stopped at the Tate Modern,

and then finished our visit with a ride on the London Eye.

The view is spectacular. You can see for miles. Here are some pictures, some of which I took.

High-speed trains leaving Waterloo Station.

Barges on the river and high-rises behind it.

Victoria Gardens from the air.

a Gulfstream business jet, practically level with our capsule.

After that, we took an Über back to our house. Tomorrow, we visit Stonehenge and Bath on an all-day tour.

- Hayden M. Strong

Yay! I Am No Longer On A Plane

Seven hours, thirty minutes.

Seven hours, thirty minutes onboard an Airbus A330-300, from takeoff at PHL’s Terminal A-East to landing at London Heathrow. After a very long night of watching movies, constructing Minecraft skyscrapers, and trying unsuccessfully to sleep, we eventually docked at Heathrow’s Terminal 3. We took a quick rest at the airport Hilton, and then our hired car drove us to our house, at Nine Pembroke Mews in Kensington.

No pictures. Sorry.

We unpacked and claimed bedrooms, and then headed out to check out the neighborhood.

We got a bite to eat at local restaurant Byron (and no, they don’t just sell hamburgers) :

Then we walked to Holland Park. Holland Park is a massive complex, with soccer fields, gardens, an orangery, an opera house, and the most epic playground I’ve ever seen. Even though technically I wasn’t allowed in (being over 12) I threw caution to the wind and played with Violet.

The “playpark” at Holland Park has three jungle gyms, banisters that are actually built for you to slide down, merry-go-rounds, rock climbing, a zipline, and this skateboard-on-tracks thing:

It was pretty fun. I fell off quite frequently but it was definitely worth it.

On our walk back, we saw some fountains and a heron.

And, for your amusement:

Tomorrow, we’re taking a tour that covers most of central London’s landmarks and a few less-traveled destinations. 

Thanks for reading!

- Hayden M. Strong

It’s The Final Countdown!

Contain your excitement! In just two short days, we’ll board an American Airlines A330 and the latest iteration of Hayden’s Page will go live! Experience the latest and greatest Hayden’s Page, with bigger and better descriptions, cool destinations, and stunning photos! Follow our adventures in near-real time with new posts - chroncling that day’s exploits - added everyday! With the all-new Hayden’s Page 2016, you won’t miss a beat. It’s the closest thing to being there.

Want to get a different perspective on our travels? Head on over to Violet’s Page and select 2016 from the drop-down menu, and see what up-and-coming travelogue author Violet Strong has to say. Or see our parents’ views at Kelly and Neil’s Pages. 

- - - All sites go live on May 25, 2016! - - -

© Knstrong 2013