So here’s the thing. As you may or may not have noted me referencing once or thrice, Edinburgh is not only a lovely place in the Highlands. It’s also the birth place of one of my all-time favorites, the inspiration for more than one of my trips to the U.K. (including seeing Cursed Child in April! Something I will tell you more about in the near future): Harry Potter.
Here’s an even funner fact (#grammar): Not only did J.K. Rowling write Harry Potter in Edinburgh, she still lives here.
Now, I’m not going to tell you where, because that would be creepy. And also I believe this glorious woman deserves her privacy.
Although, I’ve already implied that I do know, have I not? That’s where this story, my final Scottish post, begins.
So, after The Witchery — which is not only a place that J.K.’s dined (no wonder, with its Hogwarts vibes), but also the prettiest restaurant in the world, according to the bae Andrew Lloyd Webber — we headed off on a proper Harry Potter hunt.
Our start? The Elephant House Café, which is said to be one of the cafés J.K. frequented while writing HP.
Very cool in theory — but sadly, less cool in actuality. I thought I was going to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses by grabbing a cup of tea and a scone and sitting down and soaking it all in. But frankly, so many people want to get in there, you can barely stand. The line was ridiculous, the tour groups were SO aggressive, and the worst? They were out of scones. OUT OF SCONES!
HP devotion: 1
But I said to myself, don’t despair, young Ravenclaw. There’s more for you to see! And see it I did — or tried. Because the next thing on my list was the Diagon Alley plaque, which is placed at the entrance of Candlemaker Row, the teeny, curving street that allegedly inspired the back-to-school shopping hub of my fantasies. I must have walked up and down that street for a solid 15 minutes, determined to find the damn plaque. I finally decided to stop looking like a idiot and walk into a shop for directions. Friends, THEY TOOK DOWN THE PLAQUE. And what else? They painted OVER the mural, which, for the record, once looked like this. Now, it looks like this:
Apparently, a group of students were coming soon to create a new HP mural, which is beautiful, and obviously I appreciate the continued devotion. But at the time, this was me:
Now, there are a few more places you can go in town if you want your J.K. fill. There’s Greyfriar’s Kirk, a cemetery where Rowling when hunting for character names (and found a few; looking at you, Tom Riddle, Esq.!). You can also find J.K.’s handprints on the Royal Mile, but unfortunately, as we only had about two days, I didn’t get to all the HP places.
I did, however, make it up this beautiful boulevard, Victoria Street.
I’m not sure if this joke shop was there while J.K. was writing, but come on. This was meant for Fred & George. ❤️
(For the record, I think Victoria Street was the true inspiration for Diagon. Sorry, plaque!)
But back to lamenting. As we were about to head home, I found a brochure about this Scottish staple: The Jacobite Steam Train. A.k.a. THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS! People, I came to Scotland, and I didn’t even ride the Hogwarts Express. Look at this beauty!
So finally, we’re in a cab, going to pick up our luggage before heading to the airport. I’m a little sad, but our taxi cab driver, let’s call him Jamie Fraser, is super friendly and decides to tell us about some of the famous people he’s gotten to drive around Edinburgh. Jamie’s cracking us up with all of his stories and then, casual as can be, goes, “Oh, speaking of famous people, you know what? J.K. Rowling lives right around the corner. Wanna see?”
Um, is Hermione Granger the brightest witch of her age? YES, I WANT TO SEE!
*insert heavy breathing here*
And so, he drove us past J.K.’s pristine castle of a home, and then back past it again, because once is never enough (and also it was the quickest way back to our hotel). Rumor has it that the house actually has two Hogwarts-inspired tree houses in the backyard, which is quite possibly the most boss thing I can think of, though I can neither confirm nor deny their actual existence. But I will say that the house is just as fabulous yet un-ostentatious as you would expect from our queen.
I am, alas, a muggle. But those final moments in Edinburgh? The purest magic.
With love and lumos, your forever Potter devotee, R