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Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

The Elephant House

October 01, 2019 0 Comments


As Harry Potter fans both N and I had decided that ‘The Elephant House’ would be our first stop once we land at Edinburgh. I remembered a bit about the café from the interview Jo Rowling did there after Harry Potter became famous and was looking forward to experiencing it myself.


The café is within the walking distance from the railway station. So, we decide to walk to the café for our morning cup of tea and breakfast. The first thing that you notice about the café is its bright red appearance. The sign proclaiming ‘birthplace’ of Harry Potter that the café has put up on is also quite attention grabbing. The café is very proud of the fact that it has served a number of authors. From ‘Writers & Reviews’ board in their café to the mention of these authors on their website, the café boasts of not only having served J. K. Rowling but also authors like Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith. Therefore, this café is not only hallowed ground for Potterheads, it is a great place for any bookworm and aspiring authors.


Once you enter the café, at the first glance, it feels small and very underwhelming.But it is soon apparent that there is more to the place. Once you have placed your order and move towards finding a table, the ‘Writers & Reviews’ board becomes visible. That is also when you notice the framed autograph of the lady herself and it is a ‘Limited Edition certification’. There is also a big frame with a number of pictures of Jo Rowling on it. But they all seem to be like from the day she did the interview there rather than of her writing days there. Apart from the café’s own wall of fame, a lot of Potterheads seem to have visited the café and left their mark. There were a lot of graffiti and scrawls from fans all over the world. They have left comments and words of appreciation for both the series and its author.


Sitting there was a wonderful feeling. To be where the magic was created and to see what the Rowling had seen. The best part of our experience there was the fact that we found a lady sitting alone at a table with a cup of coffee. She was furiously scribbling in her diary and I couldn’t help but smile at the scene! It was probably very similar to the scene that the patrons of the café witnessed decades back. I was also really tempted to go and ask the lady her name, so that if and when she becomes famous and is added to the café’s wall of fame I could reflect back on my visit to the café. But no, I did not disturb her from plotting.


The nearby landmark of George Heriot’s School building with four towers is said to have served as an inspiration for Hogwarts School. The Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery may have served not only as the inspiration for quite a few names in the series but also may have served as the inspiration for the graveyard where Voldemort’s father was buried.

If you are not a bookworm or a Potterhead, even then you should pay this place a visit. The café has a terrific view of the Edinburgh Castle from its sitting room at the back. They have great food at really reasonable prices (irrespective of their demand) and friendly staff.


This post was originally written for BUZZ Magazine

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Calton Hill

September 29, 2019 1 Comments


I took a short vacation to Glasgow and Edinburgh over the Easter break. While vacations bring on images of peace, tranquility and relaxation, ours was a bit overloaded. We were limited by time but not the number of things on my places-to-visit list! We each have our roles to play while planning for a vacation. N takes care of destination, dates, tickets, planning and I am left with only one job – research the destination and make a list of places to see. This time was no exception… While the whole trip was filled with beautiful and scenic locations, Calton Hill simply took my breath away with its easy access, scenic views, and grand architectures.


Calton Hill is centrally located and as the name suggests, yes, it is a hill. It is about 15 minutes’ walk up from Royal Mile. Once you get out of the city’s hubbub and get to the stairs that marks the beginning of the ascent to the hill top, things get quite calm and peaceful. The City Observatory building is the first thing we came across, but it was closed. The Dugald Stewart Monument was the next thing that we noticed. We did take a few photos with it in the background but I have to admit that I only discovered later (on Google after returning) that Dugald Stewart was a Scottish philosopher. Further up are the Nelson Monument and the National Monument. The Nelson Monument looks almost like a watch tower and I had mistaken it for one when I had spotted it earlier in the day from the Edinburgh Castle. However, it was used to send signals to the ships in earlier days. The National Monument is as memorial to the soldiers who died in combat during the Napoleonic Wars. Its pillars and arches are huge and majestic.


The view from the hill top is quite something. You can see the whole city and well into the sea. We had gone up there just after a spell of rain and like most things, the view somehow felt ‘clearer’ at that point. We were among the first few to get up there once the rain had stopped and as such we got to see the view in comparative peace. The place soon was full of people – both locals and tourists. It was a clear favorite of the locals as well who came there for their evening walks and to exercise their dogs as well. The open area and the greenery just add to the charm of the place. There is a quaint little tea shop up there, just in case anyone wants a cuppa to go with the view.


The beauty of this hill top lies in the fact that it brings together the view, the monuments and beauty of hills together all the while being within the city.

QOTD: Have you been to Edinburgh? What did you like the most about it? 



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