wizarding world harry potter hogsmeade hogwarts

The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling’s imaginative universe of witchcraft, wizardry, fantastic beasts, enchanted objects, and spellbinding adventures comes to life in the muggle realm at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In April, my friend Zoey and I checked out the opening weekend of the new theme park expansion at Universal Studios Hollywood to explore the rides and attractions that allow fans to immerse themselves in and interact with the story of Harry Potter through a full sensory experience.

For a glimpse into this wonderful wizarding world, here are some of my photos from my day trip to the stomping grounds of the Boy Who Lived. Something magical this way comes…

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american idol finale series farewell

An American Idol Moment Like This

Some people wait a lifetime for moments like the ones I had during what was, without a doubt, the time of my life in Los Angeles last week (all of which I am still processing – please, don’t pinch me just yet).

Thanks to the good luck of being in the right place at the right time to meet the right people (and extremely kind people at that), I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the two American Idol finale shows at the Dolby Theatre during the final farewell week of the series on April 6th and 7th.

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A Tale Of Two Cities: NYC and LA

East Coast (Brooklyn, 2007) to West Coast (Santa Monica, 2013)
East Coast (Brooklyn, 2007) to West Coast (Santa Monica, 2013)

If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?

New York City, New York and Los Angeles, California

I am a city girl. Always have been, always will be. I was born and raised in the ‘burbs of Vancouver but constantly longed for a permanent residence in the middle of the metropolis. While I love Vancouver for its Canadian pride, earthy atmosphere, majestic natural beauty, and yes, even sometimes its rain, I sometimes feel stifled by what I believe to be its yet unfulfilled potential to be as great as it could be. People have called Vancouver the “No Fun City” for this reason.

I have only ventured to New York City and Los Angeles once each – NYC during Spring Break 2007 with my Grade 12 art class and LA last Summer 2013 by myself, both times before or after my respective graduations from school, actually – but I never felt as at home as I did during my weeks in those two cities. There are countless things to do, sights to see, and people to meet in this pair of vibrant and diverse places. You could browse through the art museums in Manhattan or go stargazing in Hollywood, and that’s just on the first day!

I was fortunate to visit New York and California during the winter and summer seasons, but I would love to experience life in both coastal cities all year ’round. Springtime in Central Park and Christmas in Southern California? Sign me up! A balance between the hustle and bustle of the City That Never Sleeps and the laid-back, take it easy vibe of the beaches of the City of Angels would combine the two lifestyles I seek. And sure, navigating these mega cities may be daunting, but I think there’s something so exciting and inspiring about being one of the millions of hopefuls who go to NYC and LA to make their dreams come true, and I wish to be part of that group.

Searching for the Stars in Hollywood

Hollywood, USA – it’s where the star chasers come out to play! For decades, people from all over the world have traveled to Tinseltown to experience the luxurious lifestyle of the rich and famous, and if luck befalls them, to catch a rare glimpse of a celebrity in person. As a post-grad present, I took a trip to the entertainment mecca and had quite a few awesome star-studded encounters!

Wondering how you can get closer to the celebrities? Here’s my guide to searching for the stars in Hollywood…

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Hooray for Hollywood!

I had a sensational and memorable time during my trip to Los Angeles, California at the end of July!

Within a week, I was able to visit the sights I’ve wanted to see and accomplish the activities I’ve wanted to do in the City of Angels. I hiked up to the Hollywood sign, scoped out the stars along the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard (and even saw Walk of Fame ceremony for the late Peter Falk (Columbo)… and DICK VAN DYKE happened to be a special guest!), checked out the handprints at the TCL Chinese Theatre and saw The Bling Ring in cinema, watched two shows (American Idol Season 12 Tour at Nokia Theatre and Chicago at Hollywood Bowl), went to museums (Grammy Museum for music, Paley Center for television, and Hollywood Museum for film), did tours of Dolby Theatre (where the Oscars are held) and Paramount Studios (home of Lucille Ball, Community, Glee, and more television shows and movies!), chilled at the pier and beach in Santa Monica, shopped at Hollywood & Highland, the Grove, the Farmer’s Market, and Santa Monica (and window-shopped at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills), and spent a day at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland!

I took over 1000+ photos, which I’ve uploaded to my Flickr album (the American Idol tour pictures can be found on my other Flickr album)

Years ago, I left my heart in New York City, but now, Los Angeles has certainly stolen a piece of my heart as well. I’m already looking forward to the next time I travel to LA! 🙂