Two Harry Potter Nerds and the Quest of Edinburgh, UK

The first day or two were foggy and cold with some occasional rain. At this point, it was late June in the UK, but we were still wearing our puffer jackets, while it was 100+ back home in Houston (40+ Celsius). The damp weather can make it slightly more difficult to enjoy landmarks, views, and other sites but we were glad not to suffer the heat back home.

Our Airbnb was about 3 miles from town and we elected to walk the first day. We walked along small Scottish cottages and massive, old private schools with uniformed school children running about. We climbed down hill along a curve to Dean Village. A long river wound between walls of green trees and a terrace adorned with more cottages and long-standing buildings. It encapsulated the picture one imagined of a small village bisected by a river.

Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley

The best day of our trip to Edinburgh involved a Harry Potter themed walking tour! . J.K Rowling wrote most of her Potter novels whilst living in Edinburgh, and naturally drew many of her inspirations from the environment. We encountered a graveyard with headstones of Riddells and McGonagalls, as well as an English boarding school with 4 houses with the same colors as the 4 from the Harry Potter series. Our leader was vibrant, energetic and engaging. He led us down the inspiration for Diagon Alley, Victoria Street, with its joke shop, ice cream shop, and bookstore. Surrounded by a throng of nerds, we gleefully answered Harry Potter trivia and Slytherin won the most house points for the day.

Harry Potter Walking Tour

We traveled up to Edinburgh Castle on another day to take in the views above the city and learn more about Scotland. One issue in our privilege of this travel pursuit is the inability not to compare and contrast our experiences. It was difficult not to account for the admission cost of this castle and compare it to the cost and exhibits in another. In this manner, Edinburgh Castle was slightly underwhelming for us. It involved several museums with some military regalia and video, but all presenting similar sights and information. One neat area was the Crown Jewels and Scepter of Scotland and chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots. Overall, we were a bit disappointed in the $40 we spent on the castle, but we found a cheap Indian restaurant and shared a curry to warm our spirits.

Edinburgh truly had the timeless magical feel of Scotland that I had read about. Hannah and I agreed that the small green glens and hilly tiers of medieval styled architecture made it entirely unique and beautiful. It was also a busy city with generations young and old coming and going to work and play. We could easily have spent an additional 2-3 days in Edinburgh. One reason that we are glad we did not was the expensiveness of the city. The museums and attractions bore some of the highest cost on our journey. One spectacular attraction was the free to visit Museum of Scotland, which is akin to the US Smithsonian Institutes in its exhibitions and attractions. The displays were far encompassing and interactive in many regards. We agreed a place such as this would be an excellent way to spend a rainy day or two, especially if we had kids.

Adjusting back to a more westernized American-like society was still slow going. Our Airbnb in Edinburgh was near a massive grocery store similar to an HEB or small Walmart. We found ourselves in awe and also surprisingly unable to make decisions among the myriad of options suddenly available to us. Hannah contended that this particular UK Supermarket did not not do as proper a job of organizing products as American stores. She was probably correct, we found bread was in 4 separate aisles, and that was commonplace with other items as well. By this point in our trip, random supplies and items had started to run their course: holes in pants, shoe stability gone, toothpaste out, etc. We stocked up on a couple of cheap essentials, and we replaced our running shoes with some leather, suede walking/hiking shoes from an outdoor store that we hope will bear the brunt of long walking days to come.


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