JoBlo.com does London!

NOTE: This is not a set visit report, but merely a prelude featuring my own personal experiences in the city of London and there-abouts. The actual set visit reports will be hitting the site very soon.

It all began precisely when JoBlo.com called to announce what I consider to be the most thrilling news I had received in a VERY long time!! I was elated to receive an invite to attend two set visits for New Line Cinema films currently in production. The city? London, England! The films? THE GOLDEN COMPASS and INKHEART.

My initial reaction to JoBlo.com's phone call was extremely loud shrieking followed by animated deep laughs, with intermittent boisterous screaming. To classify this reaction as mere excitement would be an understatement to say the least. If I could have, I would have jumped through to the other side of the phone and hugged JoBlo myself! Good thing it wasn't possible as I probably would have hurt him or broken him in half.

Why all the delirium and raucous you ask? Simply because London is one of the greatest cities in the world (next to NYC of course) and because it has been at the top of my to see list for several years! I also happen to have a soft spot for Englishmen and their accents! At last the opportunity had arrived for my dreams to be realized, with an extraordinary privilege of visiting two film sets to boot! It simply couldn't get any better than this (and yes, for once, the JoBlo.com readers will get a female point of view on this stuff :).

The days leading up to my departure seemed pretty much a daze as my anticipation continued to build. The prospect to embark on this journey became respectively sweeter upon discovering that Heather from ComingSoon.net would be my travel partner in crime. Having met and befriended Heather on a previous set visit, I was overjoyed to be accompanied by her on this incredible journey, thus further intensifying the level of excitement. The feeling remained surreal until our feet actually touched down in Heathrow airport January 21st, 2007. I was still in awe that this dream was really materializing (yes, I get excited pretty easily!).

Upon arrival and check in at our fancy 5-star hotel situated in the heart of London, we took a quick nap and went off to see some sights. Our hotel The Park Lane, was surrounded by the rich history that England thrives off and is symbolized by. Overlooking The Green Park, The Buckingham Palace was literally just around the corner and the popular shops on Bond Street within walking distance.

That evening, Heather and I enthusiastically took our concierge's recommendation, and decided to head over to a traditional but exclusive pub located in a posh neighborhood not far from our hotel. We were on a mission to indulge ourselves in a traditional British dish of "fish and chips". Unfortunately, we ended up on an extended expedition to locate this secluded Grenadier pub. We kept getting directed to a muse which we later discovered meant a small cobblestone street!! I can understand why this is a celeb fav spot. It is impossible to find!! The dinner was delectable however the locals came off as a bit snobby. I suppose the stereotype has some truth to it. Brits can be uptight, at least in this neighborhood. It was time to move on to the next destination...

Moving on from an appetizing dinner, we hit the popular lounge Blue Bar located in the Berkeley Hotel. At this point, our eyes were rolling to the back of our heads but we braved one round of drinks. At last we were pooped and headed back to hit the sack only to be faced inevitably with jet lag!! Adjusting from a 5 hour time difference, I was up tossing and turning for most of the night. God help me...I need sleep!!!

The morning of, Monday, January 22, 2007 marked the official "meet and greet" day with the New Line folks in their hospitality suite. They were super cool. We got the lowdown on the set visit schedule with a recommendation to go see a theatre show while in town. The consensus was Billy Elliot and off we were to purchase last minute bargain tickets in Leicester Square. 'Bargain' in British terms means half the price, but DOUBLE in US dollars!!

Before going any further, did I happen to mention that as North Americans we are reduced to poverty status in this country?!?! Our money is worth nothing here!!! We may as well hail from a third world country! Despite the feeling of getting raped with every purchase, we concluded that denial would be the best option.

The day quickly turned into night and we met with the rest of our large group members to attend a fab NewLine welcome dinner at a popular and packed Italian restaurant named Sale e Pepe. Regardless of whether it was part of their schtick or if they were genuinely fresh off the boat, the waiters were equally entertaining with their enchanting Italian dialogue. Following dinner, the group started branching out into smaller cliques, each contemplating on how to maximize the evening in the great city of London. Most settled on the hotel lounge. I joined a few of the reporters for some bubbly and small talk before calling it a night. Others disappeared into oblivion only to resurface in the a.m. Perhaps it was past their bed time...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 marked our first set visit at the Shepperton Studios for THE GOLDEN COMPASS. I must admit I was totally psyched for my next experience which was undoubtedly one of the most pleasurable and memorable. It was a special treat to a traditional British afternoon tea at the ritzy Dorchester Hotel where the likes of Grace Kelly had once frequented. Sitting in the lap of luxury, sipping on pink champagne and tea, nibbling on scrumptious biscuits, devouring an assortment of finger sandwiches, topped off with a climactic finale of fine desserts is an everyday tradition I can very well get used too!! Needless to say, the ecstatic experience left me completely fulfilled and yearning for more...

This was an evening where everyone went off with their own little cliques to enjoy a variety of entertaining venues London had to offer. Heather and I along with some others went to the theatre to see Billy Elliot, based on the original film of a young boy and aspiring ballet dancer, who triumphed in the face of adversity. Ok, so we had nosebleed seats but regardless, the show was outstanding and moved us to tears. We headed back to The Park Lane to seal another evening with some cocktails, bubbly and social yap.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 was day two of the set visit at the Shepperton studios for another fantasy film, INKHEART. The day ran a little longer than scheduled however, we made it back to our hotel just in time for Heather and I to pack and leave for our one day excursion to Dublin, Ireland!! We were radiating with enthusiasm and the reality of being in Dublin emanated an extreme excitement that became difficult to contain. We hit the famous Temple Bar district thriving with life, music and people. I even sampled my first official Guinness beer. Our night quickly escalated into vivacious fun with a couple of adorable and animated locals whose agility evoked continuous laughter from Heather and I.

Our early morning sight seeing tour was a bit excruciating. It was torture trying to keep our eyelids open as they desperately yearned for sleep and our head's felt like ticking time bombs. Regardless, we were troopers to the end. Dublin was absolutely magnificent; although coming from a very big U2 fan, the statement is laced with great partiality. I can vouch that the Irish know how live and enjoy life to the fullest! Dublin rocks!

Sadly Dublin was short but sweet and Heather and I returned to London to enjoy a few more days of sightseeing. Our return to London marked the end of our journey together. We split up to do our own thing for the few remaining days left in this fascinating city. I took a double decker bus tour, visited the London Eye, Tate Museum among many other historic landmarks. The architecture of every structure and building was exquisite. One landmark amazed me more than the next.

In conclusion, London is truly breathtaking and I really hated the thought of leaving! This was by far one of the most memorable trips I've taken thanks to the coolest site JoBlo.com and the wonderful peeps at New Line Cinema. I still dream of afternoon tea at The Dorchester as the taste continues to linger forevermore in my mouth!

NEXT WEEK: The set visit reports!!

Source: JoBlo.com



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