July 12-15, 2015: Edinburgh (aka: The Birthplace of Harry Potter!)

Visited the birthplace of Harry Potter!!!! And many, many, many more fascinating things. But none more important than Harry Potter… obviously.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, here’s a little Edinburgh 101:  J.K. Rowling began writing the Harry Potter books in a little cafe (wait patiently… we’ll get there!) in Edinburgh, overlooking the Edinburgh Castle and nearby cemetery. This castle was her inspiration for Hogwarts and she would stroll through the cemetery to get inspiration for many of her characters’ names (some shown below). That’s pretty much all you need to know about Edinburgh.

In all seriousness, Edinburgh was one of the coolest places we’ve been to so far and we HIGHLY recommend any soul who reads this to go visit. We walked around the old city, new city, did some beautiful hikes, and even took a tour through the Highlands and a boat trip on Loch Ness to go find Nessie!

Note:   ALL pictures in this post are 100% unfiltered and undoctored.

Warning:   This is our longest post yet. If you too are an HP fan, then I’m sure you understand and welcome it. If you’re not, well, then… #)(&&#*)(&%(.

Miles walked/hiked:       24
Miles transported:       ~620

Exploring Old Edinburgh

View from our hostel – Edinburgh Castle! (THANK YOU, Michal, for the amazing hostel recommendation… Kick Ass Hostel, for those planning to visit Edinburgh!)

Edinburgh - 1

Started the trip off with a grim stroll around Greyfriars Kirkyard (the old cemetery). Now what do we have here??

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Francy’s hero!! TRAITOR!! (If you can’t zoom in… the name on that grave is TOM RIDDLE)

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And apparently Salazar Slytherin paid his respects as well:

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McGonagall’s namesake:

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And apparently the below two graves actually belong to a Sirius Black and an Amos Diggory, but the headstones crumbled off:

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Could these two graves have provided J.K. the inspiration for the names of our beloved Professor Dumbledore and “Mad-Eye” Moody?

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Some beautiful shots of the old city from the cemetery:

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Greyfriars Bobby – a dog who supposedly sat by his owner’s grave for 14 years until he died himself. This statue was put up right outside the graveyard and myth has it that rubbing his nose brings one good luck, hence the poor little doggy’s discoloration:

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The Royal Mile – a mile(ish) long stretch of road between the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace (where The Queen stays when she visits Scotland):

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Crossing over into New Edinburgh (next morning), we got a great glimpse of the Scott Monument:

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The National Monument of Scotland – a half finished Parthenon built to commemorate the Scots who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, but was never completed due to lack of funds.

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This is the result of a lack of something else:

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Creeping on the tour guide, as per usual:

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The castle + old city from the monument:

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But apparently you can get an even BETTER view from the top of that ridge…

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So off we went!

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Halfway up – A nice view of Holyrood Palace:

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And of the monument that we had just visited:

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And aha! Hogwarts!

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As we continued our way up the mountain, it started to rain. And this crazy African was in flip flops…

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At last, we made it to the top! And got this… umm… OK view of the castle:

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But hey! Anything for a photo op!

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The Scotch Whiskey Experience

As we needed some shelter from the rain, what better to do than learn about Scotch Whiskey? We traveled through the whiskey making process on an audio-visual ride, sitting in a whiskey barrel, followed by a “smelling” lesson (learning to tell different types of Scottish Whiskeys apart by smell), and finished off with a tasting among a collection of thousands of whiskeys that belonged to a man whose name I can’t remember, but whose friend I want to be:

Scotch Whiskey Experience - 1

Scotch Whiskey Experience - 2

Scotch Whiskey Experience - 3

A visit to the Highlands and Loch Ness (”Loch” = Lake)

The infamous Hairy Cows of Scotland:

The Highlands - 1

The stunning mountains of The Highlands (there were TONS of backpackers hiking up… next on our bucket list!!):

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The Highlands - 3

Took a boat onto Loch Ness to search for the monster:

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Here, Nessy Nessy Nessy:

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Samsonite found her!

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And finally, the birthplace of Harry Potter

The Elephant House!

Scotland, The Elephant House - 1

Had a few hours to spare before our train, so sat down (in what we just assumed was J.K.’s table) for some coffee, stared out at the castle and graveyard, and waited for our billion dollar muse to arrive. It didn’t.

Scotland, The Elephant House - 2

Scotland, The Elephant House - 3


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