I feel like I’ve been away more this past month than I have the whole year leading up to it! Last weekend I went to Edinburgh with my parents to visit my sister and visited my first Christmas Market, or Winter Market on the day it opened and had an open top bus tour. As Edinburgh is where JK Rowling was living when she wrote Harry Potter there’s a lot of buildings and places around that are supposed to have inspired her so we visited the supposed inspiration for Diagonal Alley (and I Mya have bought some things) as well as the grave of Tom Riddel, possibly the inspiration for Tom Riddle or Voldemort, and the cafe she wrote in.
I’ve always thought the hop on, hop off type open top bus tours seem a great way to visit a city. They are a bit expensive but you get to see the sites as well as get on and off it as many times as you want in 24 hours with a tour guide or recorded guide. It’s definitely a tourist thing to do but they go every twenty minutes so you’ll easily get one.
I have ended up writing this post on my phone, I wasn’t a very good blogger and my camera wasn’t charged enough before went so the battery died on my first photo! I’ve been waiting for the photos to send off my phone for three hours and still nothing so they’re the original versions. I will get better at blogging when I travel one day!
I’m not sure where to start, I guess the winter market is a good place though I forgot to take many photos and it was one of those things where you follow the flow of people and then try to make your way to the stalls you want to see. I did get a mug from there, my sister got some mulled wine and they charged £3 extra (I think) for a special Edinburgh Winter Market mug, but again it’s not photographed and in the dishwasher (I’m such a good blogger). There were at least two different mugs we saw, probably more available, but I liked both of them.
There were so many stalls there, there were quite a few duplicates like the Christmas decorations or places selling the same hot drinks, but some did stand out. There was one cooking smoked salmon and I think they sold it in soup or with potatoes, the line was too long to see, but the cooking process looked impressive as they had salmon tied to the inside of wood planks over the fire. I wish I’d got a pretzel, or some of the doughnuts we saw early on, but there was a feeling of not wanting to miss out on something rest later because I was too full. I’d recommend the German stall near the furthest right entrance in the gardens (I think that’s where we were) that had various salami style sausages and those giant pretzels. If I went back I’d definitely get something from there.
The food we did get I don’t even know the name of. It was fairly near the entrance and near that German stall and it was French but I have no idea if it’s a traditional food or just something they do. It was a mix of onions, potatoes and smoked sausage and tasted amazing. Simple but filling and different from what we often see around the European markets that set up at times around by us. There were definitely a lot of food stalls and if you wanted waffles or German hotdogs I think there were quite a few of each. We did see an alpaca stall that had little fluffy alpaca toys that were made of alpaca wool, kind of wish I’d got one of them!
We didn’t go down to it but there was a more child friendly area with stalls for kids snacks, kid rides and a Christmas tree maze that looked like fun. There were a couple of rides for grown ups, well one was also for kids but looked like any age could ride it, but the one was one of those rides with chairs attached, like swings with seatbelts, that goes out as the ride spins and it went so high. Don’t think I’d want to ride that!
Next we went on the open bus tour, though it was a bit cold. They did have three or four different ones leaving from the bridge and I can’t remember the name of the one we did but it was the green and yellow one. We went for one with a live tour guide and the two different ones we had, because of getting off and then on again later, were quite different and I liked the fact they had different ways of doing it, or rather different personalities into it rather than just a scripted thing. They do also have a horrible histories one that would be good for kids or one that went to various bridges.
We got off at Greyfriars Bobby, or Greyfriars Kirk which is the graveyard where a dog, Greyfriars Bobby sat and waited on his owners grave supposedly for 14 years, before he died. There’s a little statue and a grave for him where people have left flowers and sticks which I thought was cute. I didn’t take a photo as there were a lot of people around it, there are a few walking tours that include the graveyard or are purely based in it.
The main reason we stopped here was for Voldemort’s grave, well the grave of Tom Riddel who JK Rowling supposedly took the name from. There’s supposed to be a McGonagall around too but we couldn’t find him. We did see a John Watson as well as some of the names that were on a map at the entrance giving some important people who were buried there. Some.of the graves were very intricate, it was interesting seeing how detailed some were and how many skull and crossbones were included in the designs. I always feel a bit odd about taking photos of graves, not sure why, but kind of wish I’d taken some more as the light was great and I think they’d have been interesting photos.
We continued on the Harry Potter theme and walked past the Elephant House Cafe, where JK Rowling started writing Harry Potter, which has information on that in the window and, again, had quite a few people outside it.
We headed to Victoria Street, the inspiration for Diagonal Alley, and I can see it in this one. There’s a few nods to the Harry Potter books on some of the shops’ walls with one saying it’s like ollivanders. Half way down is a shop called Diagon House, though I have a feeling they had to change the name as it’s different to the one I have on the bag which is Museum Context. It’s 40 Victoria Street if you want to visit and crammed full of various things. There’s two distinct Linda of products in there; those based on Harry Potter and official merchandise and those that are collectibles and artefacts that seemed to mainly be from.the world wars or military.
I did end up buying things, I could have spent so much more sonwas quite restrained for me. They had all the wands, every book and any merchandise I could think of along with products that look like they’ve come from the movies like the wizard chess set or books. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of all things Harry Potter if you’re in Edinburgh. I ended up getting an enamel badge, I’ve started collecting them again recently, a chocolate frog (my card was Madame Hooch) and a piece of art of the shop front with various Harry Potter things and characters in it.
The chocolate frog was nice enough, nothing special and something like a cheap brand chocolate with rice crispies in it. The card was a holographic one which was a nice touch to give it the closest thy could to the movie photos but I was expecting more like the characters in the actual chocolate frogs of the books and movies. I thing they’re a nice gift for fans of Harry Potter as a souvenir, the sweets were some of the cheapest things there, but maybe the Evey flavour beans might be better if they’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind the chance of an eawrax flavoured one!
And that pretty much ended the trip. It was a great weekend, I stayed on my sister’s sofa and the first night she cooked for us and I ended up staying in when they went out the second night due to having done way too much in the day. I probably should have paced better but it was fun and one of those times when I pushed myself further than I should have but it was totally worth it.