Life in Edinburgh feels temporary, in a weird way. It’s so full of history but, on the surface, the architecture of the buildings make it seem like all the modern-day people who inhabit them have a limited time here, and sooner or later all of the people who lived during Jane Austen’s time will be back to reclaim their Georgian townhouses and walk the wide cobblestone streets again.
This feeling may also come from the fact that Edinburgh doesn’t feel like it’s made the transition from past to present. With London, the rigid British traditions and the iconic landmarks are paired with shiny metal constructions like the Shard or the Gurkin, so even though you have buildings like the Globe Theater to remind you of a time when people like Shakespeare walked those streets, you’ve also got a Sainsbury’s on every corner to plant you firmly in this day and age.
With Edinburgh, yes you can find most modern-day places you could find anywhere else, but they’re outnumbered by the reminders of its history. It’s wide and open like London but without the congestion of people; it’s got cobblestone streets stretching to accommodate traffic more suited to horse-drawn carriages than cars, and hills that would give even the most athletic person a run for their money. To top it off, the divide between the New Town (again, ‘new’ being a relative term referring to the Jane Austen-esque buildings) and Old Town is prominently marked with a giant Hogwartsian castle built into the side of a cliff, with yet more hills to climb to reach it.  
On that note, if you’re a major Harry Potter fan (like myself), the UK is obviously a great place for you, and Scotland may be one of the best. Not only does HP author J.K. Rowling still live in town, but she wrote the first book of Harry Potter in various cafes all over the city, specifically the Elephant House near the center of town. Though you can get some Harry Potter merch in the main part of the shop, the real treat is in the small bathroom, whose walls are fully covered with Harry Potter-related graffiti that stretches even onto the ceiling, light fixture, soap dispenser, mirror and a few finishing remarks on the toilet. It’s a stark contrast to the neat elegance of the coffee shop, but with all the sweet thank you notes for J.K.’s work and the funny Harry Potter inside jokes, it’s very much worth checking out.
Another great Harry Potter site would be the Greyfriars Graveyard in the back of the Elephant House, where J.K. got the inspiration for many HP characters such the Potters themselves, Mad-Eye Moody, my girl Minerva McGonagall and Voldemort himself, Tom Riddle. It’s a bit of a scavenger hunt to find them all, but odds are you’ll be among other Potterheads doing just what you’re doing, so it doesn’t hurt to follow the crowd.
If you’re a fan of literature in general (also such as myself) there’s a great authors tour that runs every Sunday afternoon that takes you through the many unknown sites of Edinburgh’s greatest authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the wonderful Sherlock Holmes stories, Robert Louis Stevenson, writer of “Treasure Island” and J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan.” Because these are lesser known sites, the tour also has the added bonus of showing you the hidden backstreets of Edinburgh, giving attendees a whole new take on the city, one that I greatly appreciated. King Arthur fans will delight as well; on the outskirts of the city and at 541 meters, or about 1,774 ft., is the peak of Arthur’s Seat, where the original site of Camelot is said to have been. While the views are spectacular and I’d highly recommend climbing all the way up for those who are up to it, the climb isn’t for the faint of heart and let’s just say I deserve a knighthood after climbing that far up.
I honestly didn’t think these would be the stories I’d be telling about my time in Scotland; originally I wanted to chronicle my thrilling search for my lady Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, who, despite my not subscribing to conspiracy theories in the slightest, is without a doubt 100 percent real. Unfortunately, Scotland is a very old country with narrow, not-very-practical roads, so two hours into our planned twelve and a half hour tour of the Scottish highlands and Loch Ness, our tour bus was stopped due to a road blockage in the countryside and after sitting for two hours waiting for the issue to be resolved, we were forced to return to the city and have our tour cancelled. Nessie eludes me still; she’s a slippery beast. But my time in the city leaves me with nothing but happy memories. When we returned after our disappointing morning, we were greeted by the sun finally breaking through the overcast sky, the distant sound of bagpipes (Scotland sticks very close to its brand) and a woman letting people take turns at holding a quite large, beautiful eagle owl. So while I didn’t get a crack at finding Nessie, I did get to meet a lovely owl named Guinevere and on such a beautiful day in a gorgeous city, how can your spirits be down?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.