Travel to the ancient hamlet of Edinburgh, Scotland and walk in the steps of JK Rowling and Harry Potter surrounded by magical inspiration. From cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, to spired castles, this bustling city of 500,000 is full of unique architecture.
There are lists of places where Rowling spent her time in Edinburgh. She wrote part of the Harry Potter series in Balmoral Hotel. Although it was built in the early 1900’s, I would imagine she enjoyed the view of the gardens, bridges, and Princes Street.
A view from Princes Street of Edinburgh Castle.
No one mentions the weather. We were lucky to have enjoyed some sunny days, but the moody storms that come and go in Scotland that soak the pavers and make the steep “closes” (narrow walkways between buildings) slick, must have inspired her too. I don’t remember the sun shining in the Harry Potter books. It’s on those few dreary days in Colorado that my writing becomes darker. I love stormy weather.
I am always most intrigued by where writers wrote their famous books. Since Rowling’s baby slept well in the stroller, she crafted her series in coffee shops. According to several accounts, she found writing isolating and enjoyed being surrounded by people. Note to self: Must find coffee shop in which to write. She chose the Elephant House as one of her favorite writerly haunts when writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
A video of Victoria Street –
After trekking up Diagon Alley, I mean, Victoria Street, I made my way to The Elephant House. To say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. With all the ancient buildings to choose from, this interior appeared modern.
I found a table and noticed an old outlet perfect for my phone’s drained battery. I wondered if JK herself might have sat in this very spot. My husband, Danny placed an order for hot chocolates. I looked around the busy coffee shop and wondered how many were tourists like me, walking in this famous writer’s footsteps.
Sipped before taking a photo and it still looks good! Delish.
Then I looked out the window behind me. Aha!
View from the Elephant House.
I imagined a Hogwarts teacher in full robes looking toward the sky where several students played a game of Quidditch. They would zip and zag through the clouds above the castle, I mean school, and then fly right by the window. Can you imagine them?
It has become impossible for Rowling to go anywhere without being recognized. I bet she misses this view.
The Elephant House bathroom has become a place of honor with zillions of messages graffitied on the walls.
Many taverns like The World’s End stood out among the woolen stores open for tourists on the Royal Mile. This ancient place is among many other Edinburgh haunts featured in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series as well.
We had a peek when it rained on our last day in Edinburgh. So warm and cozy with lots of stone and character. I was ready to sit and relax for a while, but there was a 45-minute wait. Next time.
Built on a hill, Edinburgh Castle can be seen for miles. I’m sure it has inspired many writers and fairytales.
On the opposite end of the Royal Mile, originally built on a bridge, is the Holyrood Palace. Queen Elizabeth still takes up residence there every summer so no photographs were allowed. But the ruins of the chapel were fair game. My imagination stirred, I couldn’t wait to continue exploring.
I’m a thriller writer and found myself pondering stories with notes of fantasy. Could I be inspired too? Somehow anything seemed possible in Edinburgh. With a written history that only spans from the 1400’s, who knows what might have been.
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Have you ever been inspired while on vacation? Where would you like to travel next?
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