Tracing the Footsteps of J.K. Rowling (Edinburgh)

Edinburgh is a wonderful city, full of history and charm. I had the pleasure of spending a few days there, exploring new town and old town, admiring its landmarks, and appreciating its history. Edinburgh is also the home to Joanne Rowling and has been since the launch of her career. As a lover of the Harry Potter series (a self-proclaimed “Potterhead”), I spent much of my final day in the city tracing the beginning of J.K. Rowling’s creative journey.

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This is not Harry Potter related, but this incredible view of Edinburgh Castle was the first thing I saw when I stepped out of my hostel every morning and I just had to share it with you.

I started my Harry Potter morning by visiting Greyfriars Kirkyard (cemetery). This is where J.K. Rowling found name inspiration for many of the characters that she created. I walked around this centuries-old graveyard in search of recognizable names from the series and I found a few!

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William “McGonagall” – Minerva “McGonagall”
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Thomas Riddle – Tom Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort)

Overlooking Greyfriars Kirkyard is George Heriot’s School, a private school   in which the students are sorted into four houses. The building also has four towers as part of its architectural design. I have read that J.K. Rowling used this school as inspiration for Hogwarts. The school is surrounded by a wall, making it difficult for an outsider to take a good picture from the ground. Fortunately for me, I had a great view of the school from the room I was staying in (I’m glad cameras can zoom).

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After enjoying other parts of the city, I returned back the charming part of  old town where J.K. Rowling had once spent a lot of her time. There I ate at “The Elephant House.” This is the very coffee house in which she primarily wrote the first two books of the beloved Harry Potter series. At the time she was a single mother with very little money and found that it was cheaper to purchase a cup of coffee and spend her days in the coffee house than it was to pay for heating in her flat. The coffee house is very cutely decorated with pictures of elephants, tapestry with elephant designs, and probably hundreds of elephant figurines. The food was quite delicious too. I had a panini with a side salad followed by a pot of peppermint tea (my favorite at the moment) and a piece of raspberry cake.

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The slice of cake was too big but I ate it all anyway because since I came to England on a budget I have developed the motto, “I paid for it so I’m eating it.”

Even though I didn’t casually bump into J.K. Rowling during my visit (she doesn’t live anywhere near the city center anymore anyway), I had such an amazing time in Edinburgh. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to visit such a friendly, charming, and historical city.

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A foggy view of Edinburgh for Calton Hill. I went during sunset but since the sun never came out that day it never actually set (the sky only got darker). Even so, it was still a breathtaking view.
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Another foggy view from the other side of the hill. On the far left it The Palace of Holyroodhouse, one of the royal residences (I took a tour of it the day before).
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The Most Magical Day: Harry Potter Studio Tour

Yesterday I finally got to take a tour of the Harry Potter Studio in England and it was such an incredibly magical experience!

I just had to share this amazing experience with you all in video form! I know I am going love looking back on this for years to come!

Here are just a couple final thoughts that I failed to mention in the video blog:

1) I loved how all of the of the sets were decorated to depict the wizarding world during Christmas time! I feel so lucky to have had the chance to tour in December!
2) Seeing the sets was such a cool experience. I spent most of the time trying to imagine what it was like during filming, something that both fascinates and excites me. I wish I could have been part of the movie making magic!

I know it’s longer than my other videos, but I promise it is way more fun! Enjoy!

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express!

I am living in the United Kingdom for the next few months so naturally I have to see everything that is remotely related to Harry Potter (whether it’s in the books or the movies, or both). Yesterday, only four days into my trip, my flatmates and I went to King’s Cross Station to see the infamous Platform 9 and 3/4! London really embraces the Harry Potter fandom so King’s Cross Station installed a luggage cart on the wall between the entrances to Platforms 9 and 10. Unfortunately King’s Cross is set up so that one cannot stand on the actual train platforms without a ticket so the cart was set up outside the entrances (plus I’ve read the filming location was actually at the pillar in between platform 5 and 6 because it looked better). But despite all that, it was so cool to take a photo as if I were heading to the Hogwarts Express (2 weeks late) while representing my Hogwarts house,Ravenclaw (the station had workers lending us scarves and wands and taking photos)! Such a magical moment!!!

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The station even has a Harry Potter souvenir shop with a lot of really cool memorabilia. I didn’t buy anything last night, but I will certainly be back. Christmas presents anyone? I’m sure I will be buying Christmas presents for myself…

St. Pancras International Station is located right next to King’s Cross Station. For those of you who have seen the movies, you may recognize it from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron fly Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia from King’s Cross to Hogwarts. This is also the station that is used in the films for Platform 9 and 3/4 (once the students go through the wall and actually enter the platform where the Hogwarts express is waiting). Hopefully I will be able to take a trip to Paris and take a train from this station.

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