November 27th, 2019
- Dean Village
- Greyfriars Kirkyard – Thomas Riddle’s gravestone
- Castle Rock Hostel
- Food & Drink:
Before I headed to Edinburgh, my friend Justin told me about all the Harry Potter-related spots in the city. I definitely wanted to see them, as someone who grew up as a committed reader of the book series. The magic of the books and accompanying sites also added to the enchantment I already felt for the city.
Sounds weird, but I was really craving a hearty bowl of porridge, so took a walk down to Marmont, where parts of the University of Edinburgh are. It’s a quiet and beautiful area, with a much more suburban and modern feel compared to the rest of the aging city. My porridge did not disappoint either, so I would definitely recommend a small walk to Brochan if you are a porridge fan like me.
My quiet morning continued with a walk to Dean Village, which more than anything, reminded me of a page out of a fairytale. The light drizzle created a moody haze and the village is located west of the main part of the city. Dean Village literally means “deep village”, and given the rainy weather, there were few people admiring the “Waters of Leith” and the fallen leaves on the ground. With the morning to myself, I walked along the river (despite the mud) for a while before heading back to the city to meet up with my friend Alessandro.
We spent the afternoon then hitting the last few spots we both wanted to visit before I left Edinburgh the next morning. From the Christmas Village, we visited the National Portrait Gallery (free) and then made our way to Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard which contains “Voldemort’s” gravestone. Close to the back of the cemetery is the famous gravestone, marked with Thomas Riddle’s grave, which is said to have inspired the character, Tom Riddle.
Continuing with the Harry Potter theme, we grabbed a light snack at the Elephant House, which is a café where JK Rowling did a lot of her writing. It’s quite a charming place that’s worth visiting if you are a Harry Potter fan, but unfortunately, it’s become commercialized and has a pretty standard menu with average food.
Afterwards, we visited the Scotland National Museum, which I can safely say is one of the weirdest museums I have ever been to. The content in the museum ranges from traditional clothing from all across the world to vintage motorcycles to musical instruments. No doubt, it’s fun, but it is very random, with exhibits that seem to be organized with little rhyme or reasons. Nevertheless, Alessandro and I enjoyed ourselves – we saw Dolly the sheep, played around with the interactive scientific displays, and wandered through all the floors of the museum.
The rest of the night was spent with some other friends, starting with a quiet evening in the hostel’s music lounge. It’s just crazy the people you meet all over the world. Alessandro, gently strumming the guitar, has the most beautiful voice. A few others joined in with their musical talents, as we listened almost in a trance-like state. I even joined in at one point, attempting to play some pieces I knew in the past on the piano.
Eventually, we had dinner at The Standing Order – very commercialized again, with standard drinks and bar grub like burgers and (below average) salads. We picked up some alcohol at the Salisbury and our little group retreated back to the music lounge and proceeded to get tipsy prior to the main event, or ceidlidh, at Stramash. At first glance, you think you’re at a typical bar with a large dance floor, but really, we were there to do some traditional Scottish dancing. A band with fiddles led us on the stage and taught us some incredibly fun dances that involved spinning your partner ‘round and running through tunnels of couples. SO much fun. Several gin and tonics and many dances later, we left in search of fries (thin cut, so not chips!) before heading back to the hostel for the night. One of the rowdiest nights of the trip, but definitely worth it. Do yourself a favor and go to ceidlidh if you get the chance.