Rubens At The Palace Allows Guests To Be Harry Potter For The Day, Magic Wand And All

Do you ever wish you could be Harry Potter for the day? You know, walk around with a magic wand, wear a cloak and giant glasses, hangout at Gringotts Wizarding Bank and visit all the places the young wizard himself did? With a stay at Rubens at the Palace in London, now you can.

The luxury boutique hotel, which is located across from Buckingham Palace, is currently offering a “Harry Potter Experience” package. Guests will not only get the chance to take photos at Harry Potter movie set locations, like Platform 9 3/4, Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron, Gringott’s Wizarding Bank, Victorian Leadenhall Market, and Brockdale Bridge, they’ll also get to feel just like Harry Potter himself. Package amenities include:

  • Complimentary breakfast
  • World-class accommodations
  • Three-hour Harry Potter tour in a chauffeured black cab
  • Harry Potter wand with cloak and glasses
  • Turndown service with Harry Potter cupcakes
  • Framed family photograph taken before the tour
  • Certificate of tour completion, to prove to everyone you did, indeed, visit all the set locations

Package is valid until December 31, 2012. Prices start at $965 per night, based on two adults and two children under 10 years old. Email or click here to make a reservation.

Holiday Travel: 5 wacky winter activities and traditions

Spice up your holiday traditions with one of these wacky winter activities in Paris, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and other cities around the world.

Lighted Farm Implement Parade
Where: Yakima Valley, WA
Holiday parades are a dime a dozen, but this one can’t help but make you smile. More than 50 farm implements (as in tractors), trucks, and floats participate in this 21-year-old tradition in Sunnyside, WA.
Cost: Free
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 4, 2010

Roving Snowcat Food Trucks
Where: Mammoth Mountain, CA
Starting Dec. 18, Roving Mammoth snowcat food trucks will serve breakfast, lunch, and snacks (including churros, burritos, and calzones) to skiers and snowboarders on Mammoth Mountain. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be sold, but you’ll have to save your après-ski cocktails for after you unstrap your skis and snowboards.
Cost: A one-day ski lift ticket is $92 for adults, $69 for teens, and $46 for kids 7-12; kids 6 and under are free.

Snow Bar
Where: Paris
The Hilton Arc de Triomphe, about a 10-minute walk from the world’s most famous arch, has transformed its outdoor courtyard into a winter wonderland. Expect snow makers, a cozy chalet bar with cocktails, and hostesses dressed up like Mrs. Claus.
When: Dec. 2, 2010-Jan. 1, 2011
Cost: Rooms start at 295 euros ($385) per night in December.

Pool-Turned-Ice Skating Rink
Where: Los Angeles
The W Los Angeles-Westwood has once again transformed its pool deck into an ice skating rink. The hybrid ice rink means that if you fall, you won’t feel cold or wet. The Snowy Snack Bar also lets you decorate your own gingerbread men or mini holiday cupcakes (add $10 per person).
Cost: $10 for a one-hour session with skate rentals; open to the public
When: Until Jan. 2, 2011

Chocolate Carousel
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
A life-size (and fully functional) carousel made with chocolate and sugar is part of the annual Holiday Village at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. Alas, the drool-worthy carousel isn’t meant for rides, but you can admire the intricate handiwork up close.
Cost: Free and open to the public
When: Until Dec. 25, 2010

[Photo: Courtesy Daily Sun News, Sunnyside]


Car art of the US landscape: Weird, wacky and wonderful

It seems fitting that car art has taken its place in the landscape of the United States. When Henry Ford was crafting his Model T, he probably didn’t foresee that his innovation would lead to another type of car creativity. Yesterday for Gadling’s day of Weird America, Jeremy posted about Detroit’s gigantic Uniroyal tire that was once used as a ferris wheel at the World’s Fair, and Sean posted about Mystery Hill, America’s Stonehenge. Car art brings these two together in a weird and wacky kind of way.

Drive along I-40 in Texas heading west from Amarillo (or east if you’re driving from the New Mexico border) and you’ll come across Cadillac Ranch. The first time I saw these 10 Cadillacs sticking up in the air in the middle of a field, their noses buried far enough down so that they’d stay in their upright angle, I was relieved. Actually, I think I felt ecstatic. If you’ve ever driven through this part of Texas, you know just how monotonous the landscape can seem. Flat, flat and more flat. Those cars have been a weird but wonderful visual treat for people traveling that highway ever since Stanley Marsh 3 put them there years ago.

Awhile back, I seem to recall, these cars changed colors with various paint jobs. These days, though, anyone can paint on them. Graffiti is the most common approach. Here is a blog by Alan Mizel who spent time basking in the wackiness of Cadillac Ranch as part of his current trip around the world. There are several photos that pay tribute to this creation.

Next up: Carhenge is more than just Carhenge. There’s the Car Art Reserve

We drove to Carhenge as part of our great American road trip from Ohio to Montana and back four summers ago. When we pulled up, our mouths open like a cliche, we came across a friend of Jim Reinders, the man who conceptualized the project. The friend was collecting the trash and was happy to give us background information about the place.

It was a surprise to see her since Carhenge is a bit outside of Alliance, the closest town. I was impressed to see that this attraction is one that has a method to what some might call madness. Next to this wonderfully weird car creation that was conceived of as a tribute to the artist’s father is a picnic area with tables and a parking lot. This is a regular must-see attraction surrounded by flat land. This outdoor sculpture park seems to say, “What’s your hurry? You might as well stay awhile because, heaven knows, the world is a mysterious place. Take a breather.”

Carhenge, a collection of 38 cars arranged in the manner of Great Britain’s Stonehenge, is only part of the 3-D exhibit set out in the middle of nowhere. The Car Art Reserve is included on the property where the creative spirit runs strong in other car artists’ work as well. One that I remember is “The Fourd Seasons.” Made of Ford cars painted different colors, this sculpture represents wheat growing during the four seasons of Nebraska. Part of the fun of looking at the art is to see what each installation is named.

Artists can still submit sculptures. There’s plenty of room. Carhenge’s Web site contains project history and how to become a part of it.

Here are two other examples of weird car art (of sorts) that I have yet to see.

  • At Wilkin’s Oklahoma Truck Supply south of Tonkawa, there’s an 18-wheeler that is perched on its cab with the truck bed straight up in the air. The truck boasts an advertisement for the business.
  • In Oregon Curiosities, the book’s author describes Yard-0-Fun near Fort Hill, Oregon. Located on Twarp Farm, the yard has a red, white and blue pick-up truck up in a tree. The truck is only one of the weird items on display. Supposedly, you can see the car from the highway between Portland and the coast.

And here’s a car art sculpture that no longer exists but may rise again if someone gets a hankering to reconstruct it.

Near Chicago in Berwyn, Illinois there was a car art shish kabob called “Spindle.” Created by Dustin Shuler, this artwork was made from eight cars skewered onto a pole. If you saw the movie, “Wayne’s World,” you saw this sculpture. Unfortunately, the town voted to get rid of the sculpture a few years ago. The top two cars were saved and stored, however, so someone looking to make Spindle 2 has a head start.

And finally, look for car art moving along U.S. roads and highways. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, several car art artists live here. Greg Phelp’s car with a “That Car” license plate is the one with all the doll parts. Here’s what it looks like in snow.

If you have any car art to share, let Kevin Mc at HubPages know. He’s interested. Thanks to his post on car art, I found out about the car kabob. A commenter of the post clued me into the pick-up truck in the tree.