I’m charmed, seriously charmed, by Edinburgh (pronounced “Edin-boro” by true Scotsmen and I suggest you do the same to earn some serious street cred here). I was warned that this city would seduce me and it did not fail for a second. Edinburgh is a city sprawling over the Scottish Highlands’ mildest rolling hills and peeking out over the seaside, splattered with castles edging atop the very brink of its highest crags, and begging poets and vagabonds to stray into it’s foggy, dark alleyways. It’s no wonder so many fantastic writers have been inspired by this place.
It’s a patchwork of piled, stoned medieval buildings, rowdy pubs and sanctuary -esque cemeteries. Edinburgh’s streets bring images of the spooky “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” which, appropriately, was inspired by the city’s eery, dimly lit alleyways. I honestly wish I could see this place during Halloween. But bar none, Edinburgh’s most incredible trait is its turreted skyline. Castles silhouetted at dusk are too ghostly beautiful for words.
I’ve tried my hardest to put my finger on what exactly about Edinburgh has completely transfixed me and I haven’t come to a direct conclusion. But I do know that it’s a combination of it’s moodiness, historical emphasis on inspiring literature and poetry, my love for Scottish culture (it so happens I might be a descendant of the Burns clan) and it’s closeness to the absolutely stunning Highlands. Oh yeah, and I love bagpipes. Yes. Bagpipes. Don’t judge. Those things are incredible. P.S. I’m chomping at the bit to share the images Luke and I took of our time in the most spellbinding natural beauty I think I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m over-hyping it, but seriously… it’s the HIGHLANDS.
What would a week in Scotland be without indulging in some serious scotch? This has been Luke’s main interest while we’ve been here and I can’t say that I haven’t loved getting a basic knowledge on true Scottish whiskey. We’ve been doing our best at refining our palettes while experimenting with the six region’s finest little bottles. If you would have asked me four months ago what I felt about whiskey, I might’ve laughed at you. Turns out, I really like smokey, smooth scotch and even salty ones as well. Who knew? And of course, we’ve had more than our fair share of fish and chips, haggis, black pudding (yep we did it) and mash while downing our favorite scotches. Pubs in Edinburgh are fantastic.
And now my nerd moment… Harry Potter. Let it be known that my initial interest in traveling began at the age of ten and stemmed for my love of the boy who lived. After reading the first three books in about a month, my elementary aged self would have died to have visited anywhere related to Harry Potter’s creation. I was embarrassingly fanatical. Edinburgh was a huge source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling while she began drafting up the first novel. Her spark of inspiration occurred on a train between London and this city, where she’s quote as saying that Harry “just walked into her head.” As a newly divorced, single mother J.K. Rowling would frequent many of Edinburgh’s coffee shops and cafes with her newborn to write the first two books of the series. The Elephant House is now coined as being the “birthplace of Harry Potter” and I was all too excited to even be in the same space as J.K. Rowling even today. Luke actually ended up buying “The Prisoner of Azkaban” while we were in Taormina, so in a completely happy accident, I was able to read some while we sipped on some coffee and Scottish breakfast while we were there. Of course, this wasn’t the only place Harry Potter was written. In fact, we learned that a couple of coffee shops had to enter a drawing to be able to label themselves related to the Harry Potter book series. The Elephant House won and I’ve got to give it to this place. It’s view of Edinburgh Castle alone has Hogwarts written all over it, and its bathroom is scribbled with love letters to Rowling. It’s incredibly endearing and makes my heart happy.
A brief stroll down the alley from The Elephant House is Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, is where Rowling would frequently meander to when seeking character names (Moody, McGonagall, Crookshanks, and Tom Riddle’s tombs are splashed around the graveyard). The place is seriously like a page from the book.
Arthur’s Seat and the Salsbury Crags peak over Edinburgh’s outer rooftops of the city. As the highest point in the area and an extinct volcano linked with the legend of King Arthur, it basically was begging us to come climb it. And we did multiple times with camera in tow. As you may remember in my blog post about Capri, this girl loves craggy mountains. Being in a completely natural environment was like a breath of fresh air for Luke and I. We were so incredibly awestruck by its dramatic height and swaying wheat fields, we ended up putting our ear phones in and listening to Sigur Ros on our ascent up the mountain. And let me tell you, you can do just about anything while listening to Sigur Ros and feel epic. This was a whole new level!
It’s crazy to think that in less than a week I’ll be stateside and about to enter a new job. I don’t know where this summer went but I’m feeling all too weepy about it!