Thursday, July 3, 2014

S and J Take Edinburgh: Part 2

Onward we go.

When last I left you, Julia and I were trekking our way down the Royal Mile, no small feat on those centuries-old cobblestones, dodging bagpipers and silver hawkers on the street.

But we made it, finally, to the place I had long wanted to visit: The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

As I mentioned yesterday, this was my fourth visit to Edinburgh, but I had yet to see Holyroodhouse because the Queen, bless her, was usually in residence every time I'd been there. And for some reason, the Queen doesn't want us Commoners tromping around her house when she's home.

Go figure.

But this time, I went early enough (the Queen is usually in Scotland in July) that we could tour the castle. I was so glad we did!

This is the entrance. Impressive, huh?

And this is the main courtyard (the forecourt?) where just this week the Queen was greeted by 100 Guardsmen in kilts. Lucky girl!

We weren't supposed to take pictures inside the Palace, but I'm a rule breaker (just ask my husband) and I snuck this one of the inner courtyard. I can just imagine little Prince George playing on the grass.

Julia and I enjoyed our tour of the Palace. It's smaller and more accessible, I think, than many of the Royal Residences. I could just imagine the Royal family eating breakfast in the dining room or hanging out on the patio. Sadly, they wouldn't let us see the apartments, but I think we got a good sense of what life at Holyrood would be like.

Once outside, we walked through Holyrood Abbey, where they allowed us to take pictures. What a stunning ruin of this small chapel.

Once outside, we could walk around the grounds to see where the Royal family would greet guests--all 8,000 of them--at a tea party to celebrate the opening of Holyrood Week, a week the family spends in Scotland every year. In the picture below, you can see the huge, white tent that they are already setting up for the event.

 You can also see, in the picture above, the hill they call Arthur's Seat, a very popular spot to hike in the middle of the city.

Of course, after walking all the way down the Royal Mile and through two castles, Julia and I were getting a wee bit tired, but we both said that as long as we were there we should at least see what all the fuss was about.

So we climbed. Not all the way to the top, but high enough to get these amazing views.

Let's recap our day, shall we? Just in case you can't keep up. We had already toured Edinburgh Castle, walked down the Royal Mile, ate lunch at a cute tea shop, and toured The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Once we finished our hike (about 45 minutes), we were absolutely gassed, but our B&B host had assured us that our hotel was "just around the corner" from Arthur's Seat, so we started walking again.

We walked.

And we walked.

And we walked.

We even took a moment to sit down and assess where we had been.

Let me tell you, our B&B was nowhere to be found "right around the corner"!

We finally found a set of steps that seemed to lead to a neighborhood, so we took them. Good call, because a couple of blocks later we found the bus that would take us to our B&B.

Where we rested. For about 30 minutes.

Because soon it was time to go find the very thing we had come to Edinburgh to do and we were NOT going to miss it: the Harry Potter walking tour.

Yes, I said "walking."

We took the bus to the area where we would meet up with our group, and despite the fact that we were completely exhausted, we would not be deterred. We were going to find Harry Potter no matter what!

Well, we didn't find Harry, but we did find a whole lot of other interesting sites having to do with Harry.

Like the cemetery where J.K. Rowling got a lot of names for the characters in her books.

And Voldemort's grave. (I'll just leave this for the true HP fans to figure out.)

And this other grave that has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but I just liked it for reasons that will be obvious to people who know me.

We saw The Elephant House, the coffee shop where many believe J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book.

But, actually, our tour guide told us that J.K. herself has since confirmed that, although she DID write some of her books at The Elephant House, the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was conceived at Spoon, the upstairs coffee shop shown here.

Do with that whatever you want.

Our tour took us to Victoria Place, the street that probably spurred the idea for Diagon Alley.

And ended up at the City Council building where all of the famous people from Edinburgh have placed their hands in the walk of fame. All eight of them.

At the end of our tour, we were so glad we did it. It was a lot of walking and not as much talking as we would have liked, but still, it was fun to see some of the places that inspired someone to write some of the most imaginative and incredible books of our time.

That night we fell into bed, but not before we watched the old men play bocce outside our window.

Oh, Edinburgh, I do love you. I'll be back someday.


Thanks for reading along on my most recent adventure. If you'd like to keep up with my everyday adventures, just sign up to receive updates via email. And I'd love it if you'd share my adventures with a friend. 


Here are all the posts in my most recent series:
S and J Take London: Part 1
S and J Take London: Part 2
S and J Take Oxford
S and J Take Edinburgh: Part 1


  1. "Oh my gosh!" I said that to myself about a dozen times as I read through your Edinburgh posts. What an amazing trip you had. Reading this makes me want to go back to the U.K. Who am I kidding, "go back"? I've only ever been to England, and then spent time only in and around London, venturing no farther afield than Oxford and Portsmouth.

    This year I shall have to live vicariously through you and my two oldest boys, who will be spending 10 days in the U.K. after family adventures in France. I'm so jealous!

  2. By the way, I'm going to show my boys these posts about Edinburgh. Any other tips you'd give a couple of young men bumming around the British Isles?

  3. I am loving these posts and living vicariously through your great adventure! It is my dream to take a similar trip--one day!!! You'll have to be my travel agent and make all the plans. I'm counting on your experience and expertise!

  4. Oh my - all of your adventures here are fantastically Scottish! From the palace to getting lost (ahem, misdirected) to the men lawn it. That gravestone is just creepy! And finally, your views from Arthur's seat of the hills across the Firth made my heart swell. Fife! Home, as it was for a while. We'll always love it. Thanks for sharing your trip!