Edinburgh, Scotland | Part 2 | All About Harry Potter
While in Edinburgh we also made sure to see plenty of things pertaining to Harry Potter. Edinburgh was actually the inspiration for many things in the books.
Our first stop was The Elephant House, the “birthplace of Harry Potter”. When J.K. Rowling was writing the first two books in the Harry Potter series she was really, really poor. It was cheaper for her to sit at The Elephant House and pay for a cup of coffee than to pay to heat her home.
The Elephant House is still a coffee shop and cafe. We decided to eat here and see what it was all about. We went around 2 PM and the line was out the door still from the lunch rush. It’s obviously busy all of the time.
I really can’t recommend eating here. They were out of almost everything the day we went (on a Tuesday in the off season), so we settled for ham and cheese sandwiches with a side salad. It was the most expensive ham and cheese sandwich in the world probably. It cost something like £12 and wasn’t that good, but you pay for the atmosphere I suppose. After lunch I decided to wait in line for 40 minutes to use the restroom. Why would I wait that long in line when I could just go to the pub next door?
Because the inside of the women’s restroom is covered in Harry Potter graffiti. It’s really cool to see. The line took so long because people wanted to take pictures. Unfortunately the men’s restroom is lame in comparison, with more Star Wars graffiti than Harry Potter. I made Stefan check. There was no line and he told me it was really bare. I agreed after I saw his pictures. Here are several pictures I took. Yes, I did write on the walls as well.
This was above the toilet and cracked me up.
After leaving The Elephant House we slowly wandered to Greyfriars Kirkyard. If I haven’t said it before I highly recommend getting “lost” in Edinburgh because you never know what you will stumble upon.
We spotted this sign while trying to find the graveyard and we were on the road that was the inspiration for Diagon Alley! Diagon Alley is a shopping street in London where you can buy magical things.
Diagon Alley Inspiration
More Diagon Alley inspiration
We finally found Greyfriars! J.K. Rowling would often walk through here and gather inspiration for names to use in her book
McGonagall! “Tragedian” really cracked me up 😉
We also saw the grave marker that was the inspiration for “Mad Eye Moody”, but I can’t find my picture of it.
We actually sort of “joined” in on a Harry Potter tour of the graveyard because it sounded really interesting. The tour guide told us that many of the graves were destroyed after the book became popular. The inspiration for Albus Dumbledore being one of them. It was really sad.
We later had to break away from following the tour group because tour guides are no longer allowed to take visitors to the grave of Thomas Riddell, aka Lord Voldemort. The grave is actually pretty difficult to find, but the tour groups were taking thousands of people a week to it and it was slowly being destroyed.
People come here and leave flowers and notes. Apparently people who really think Lord Voldemort existed leave scathing notes to him. Others just leave fan notes about Harry Potter. While Stefan was off taking pictures I met one girl who told me that she often comes and collects the letters and that she has a shoebox full of notes to Lord Voldemort.
From the back gates of Greyfriars Kirkyard you can see George Heriot’s School. This school was the inspiration for Hogwarts. The school has 4 houses and 4 towers, just like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can’t tour the school (for obvious reasons), so the only way to see it is from Greyfriars.
Besides the Harry Potter connection Greyfriars Kirkyard is full of other history. The cemetery itself is unique, beautiful and creepy. While we were there we actually saw many locals reading books, eating lunch and just walking around.
Another popular grave in the cemetery is that of Greyfriars Bobby. This statue of Bobby is located outside of the cemetery and you are supposed to rub his nose for good luck!
The story goes:
On 15th February 1858, in the city of Edinburgh, a man named John Gray died of tuberculosis. Bobby, a wee Skye Terrier, belonged to John, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman, and the two were virtually inseparable for approximately two years. Bobby led his master’s funeral procession to the grave at Greyfriars Cemetery, and later, when he tried to stay at the graveside, he was sent away by the caretaker. But the little dog returned and refused to leave, whatever the weather conditions. Despite the efforts of the keeper of the kirkyard, John’s family and the local people, Bobby refused to be enticed away from the grave for any length of time, and he touched the hearts of the local residents. Although dogs were not allowed in the graveyard, the people rallied round and built a shelter for Bobby and there he stayed, guarding John Gray. For fourteen years Bobby lay on the grave, leaving only for food. Bobby continued to guard his master’s grave until he died on January 14, 1872, at age 16. He is buried just 75 yards from his mater’s grave.
People leave sticks, dog toys and even bones for Bobby.
This dog is so popular in Scotland that he even has his own pub named after him. Actually a lot of stuff is named after Bobby!
This ended our day in Edinburgh. We loved this city and can’t wait to go back to see more of it!
Edinburgh Part 1: here
Up Next: Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands