So let me be completely honest with you: if you would have asked me six months ago if Edinburgh was on my radar, I would probably have listed seven other places before Scotland even became a thought. Let me tell you just how wrong I was. This foray through Scotland ended up being one of the best trips I've ever taken in my life. Edinburgh has a gritty-chic feeling to it, with its rich history, unique architecture, and the blurred line between magic and reality, which you'll read about for the next several posts.
While I did my research, I stumbled upon AirBnb's experiences in Edinburgh and signed up for a Harry Potter walking tour for my first afternoon in the city. This ended up being the smartest thing I could have done for several reasons. Alishah, our tour guide was knowledgable, fun, and brought me deep into an enchanted world, while telling us stories about JK Rowling and the places where parts of her books were written and inspired. After this tour, it's become abundantly clear that without the charming city of Edinburgh, our beloved boy wizard never would have existed. My favorite part of the tour was Victoria Street, which was the inspiration for Diagon Alley. I ended up returning there several times during the week to visit restaurants or do some shopping. Victoria Street also has the shop that has been coined "The Original Flourish and Blotts," and I found it positively charming. Other sites on the tour included the inspiration for Knockturn Alley, the Elephant Cafe and even the grave of a Mr. Tom Riddle. I was blown away at the parallels between Edinburgh and my favorite books, though I feel that even without the magical background, the city would have been enchanting in its own right. This just added to the experience!
It was such a blessing to start my weekend in Edinburgh with a tour that was so interest-specific, since the nine people on this tour all became fast friends for the afternoon. In fact, I met a fellow travel blogger, Kahlee and we ended up sharing a wonderful dinner together after the tour at David Bann's, a vegetarian restaurant close to the Royal Mile. We had a great time talking about our travel experiences and goals and ordered all the dessert! It definitely pays to do some things in a group, even when traveling solo-- you might just meet some neat folks along the way!
The tour was also fantastic, because it gave me the basic layout of the city. We covered both sides of the river and Alishah did a great job of explaining where we were. This really helped set my internal compass for the week and I found myself using the places we saw during the tour as points of reference when navigating other sites during my stay. For example, I knew that the Balmoral Hotel-- where JK Rowling stayed to finish the last book-- was near the train station and also on the corner of the road that took me back to my hotel. Even if it's not interest-specific, a walking tour is a great way to help you understand the city, as well as evaluate your need for a public transportation pass. I ended up foregoing a pass in Edinburgh, since I came to find it was so walkable. This tour, which I was planning to do anyway, ended up saving me a ton of money in the long run.
I won't give away everything on the tour, since you should all do it yourselves. It really helped me capture part of the magic that encompasses Edinburgh at every turn, making me realize that the legends of new and old are still alive on the streets of the city and in the hearts of the people. Stay tuned this week for more about my Scottish adventure!