Posts Tagged With: harry potter

Edinburgh, Scotland – Things to See and Do in 24 Hours/1 Day

Edinburgh Castle Being a frequent visitor (and admirer) of Edinburgh, I thought that I would be a lovely opportunity to take my mother and grandfather there. Unfortunately, we had a tight schedule to stick to and could only spend a full day in the beautiful old part of Edinburgh. Most travellers I come across either train to Edinburgh for the day, or only get a full 24 hours to spend in the majestic and historic city of Edinburgh. For those who haven’t been and plan to visit Scotland, I highly recommend that you visit Edinburgh as it is one of the most magical and medieval-like cities I’ve ever been too.

HOW LONG SHOULD I VISIT EDINBURGH?

If I’m going to be completely honest, you can see most of the sights and experience a glimpse of the scottish culture in less then two days. I took my family there for the 36 hours before our train to York and we saw most of the touristy sights, as well as some non-touristy things recommended by locals. There are some cities in the world that you couldn’t do in a day: London, Paris, Toronto, etc. However, Edinburgh is among those cities that you could experience in a day or two. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend staying longer, because Edinburgh makes my top 5 most favourite cities in the UK. It has a small town feel (which can be more welcoming and less stressful to get around), and makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time to the medieval era. It’s a majestical and magical little city; not to mention, the capital of Scotland.

258201_10152152316470032_194049516_o

I HAVE A DAY IN EDINBURGH, WHAT SHOULD I SEE?

As my family only had a day in Edinburgh, I constructed  a solid itinerary of things to do and see in Edinburgh for those travellers who are limited of time.

  1. Start with a lovely FREE Tour of Edinburgh! Depending at what time you wake up or arrive in Edinburgh, but a great way to get a feel of Edinburgh and a guided walk of the city is to join the 11am or 2pm FREE tours of Edinburgh. Most cities have these “free” tours, which are one of the best things for those travelling on a budget. These tours are tipped-based, so if you do get a great tour guide, do tip them, because this is how they make a living. These tours can offer a great historical learning experience as most tour guides will delve into the Scottish history while showing you the importance of buildings, monuments and other sights. (To join one of these tours, meet outside the Starbucks on the royal mile before the set time; ask the locals to point you in the right direction if you get lost. It’s in a prime location and is easy to find once you find the royal mile leading up to the Edinburgh Castle.)If you aren’t into history, or don’t find the tour as interesting, don’t be afraid to leave the 2-3 hour tour early. Just inform your tour guide.
    286513_10152152316080032_150056850_o
  2. Take a Walk Up The Royal High Mile and Visit St. Giles’ Cathedral Walking up the Royal High Mile is the most historic and scenic route to take in Edinburgh, as it is literally a straight stretch of cobble-stone road that ends at the Edinburgh Castle. The St. Giles’ Cathedral is located on the Royal Mile. The cathedral was on the free tour of Edinburgh, however, if you don’t plan to go on the free tour, do visit this cathedral. If you are into seeing cathedrals, do visit The High Kirk of Edinburgh (formerly named). This cathedral has a very interesting scottish history, and is one of the best cathedrals to see in Edinburgh.
    Royal Mile
  3. Calton Hill If you would like to begin your day with a walk, hike, or some sort of exercise, then head on over to Calton Hill. If you don’t have the time or courage to climb Arthur’s Seat, then do make the effort to hike up Calton Hill. It’s only 10% of the effort to climb (as opposed to climbing Arthur’s Seat), and you get the best view of Edinburgh. There are lots of beautiful arches, towers, buildings and monuments on top of Calton Hill, as well as the most breath-taking view of both the old town, and new town of Edinburgh. *Calton Hill is by far my most favourite place to go to in Edinburgh.*976582_10152851288435032_2065276491_o322722_10152152315010032_1938980750_o
  4. The Elephant House Fancy a place to have lunch or dinner in between sightseeing? Check out The Elephant House on George IV street. This intimate restaurant claims to be “The Birthplace of Harry Potter”, and has lots of articles, quotes and photos of J.K. Rowling on the walls. If you use the toilet here, you will notice that the walls are filled with Harry Potter quotes, sayings and fan messages to JK Rowling; it’s interesting to see all the fans that have visited this restaurant from all around the world. The food isn’t focused on Harry Potter-esque meals, but serves delicious wraps, soups and various meals. It’s always a great place to take a break for lunch, and you may even sit in the same seat that JK Rowling, herself, began writing the idea of Harry Potter.413278_10152152308585032_2017410743_o
  5. The Greyfriars Bobby The Greyfriars Bobby is a very tourist-ie sight and is placed in front of Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar. Basically, the historical story goes as follows: Back in the day, the original owner passed away and his dog wouldn’t leave his side or grave for the longest time: 14 years to be exact. Truly this dog exemplifies the stereotype of man’s best friend. Consequently, they kept the restaurant open in memory of him and have a statue of the dog situated in front of Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar ! If you touch the statue of the dog, it’s suppose to bring you good luck, so make sure you visit this sight in Candlemaker Row, off of George IV Bridge.209951_10152152307530032_1417612011_o
  6. The Edinburgh Castle Be aware that you could spend hours at the Edinburgh castle and all that there is to see, read and experience. However, if you just want to see and experience the castle and skim through the reading, then 2-3 hours should be sufficient. The Edinburgh Castle is one of my favourite castles, and highly recommend that every visitor of Edinburgh should visit. Unfortunately, it is fairly expensive to go inside and see the exhibits (including the Scottish Royal Jewels and most interesting Scottish history), so if you are on a budget, just make sure you snap a picture in front of the beautiful castle and experience the view on both sides of the castle. Absolutely breathtaking.176219_10152152312265032_2134796337_o

By The End of the Night, Go To a Scottish Pub Fancy ending your night in Edinburgh by experiencing a Scottish Pub for food or drinks? In terms of food, I have two recommendations: one is an authentic scottish experience, and the other a delicious alternative.

  1. Grassmarket– This area was recommended to me by one of my best friends who lives in Edinburgh. From a wide selection of scottish cuisine (yes, this includes haggis), to traditional pub food, this area has a variety of scottish restaurants that carry a variety of dishes and authentic experiences for everyone and won’t disappoint.
  2. Kismot – This Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant is probably one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in the United Kingdom (and possibly Europe). With the best, polite and humorous service, Kismot carries some of the most delicious dishes my family or I have ever had. The restaurant is owned and ran by a dedicated and polite family who are known for maintaining the #1 most voted restaurant in Edinburgh, according to TripAdvisor. They don’t believe in serving alcohol in the restaurant, but instead, have a BYOB policy, which is one of the most brilliant ideas for those trying to save money. By a bottle of wine, or bring in your own pints, and enjoy some of the best Bangladeshi/Indian dishes you will ever have with the best, and most friendly service. A MUST for those who want to try something different or craving this type of food. Delicious.469178_10152851294745032_1677450337_o

For those wanting to go for a pint or experience some scottish whisky at a local pub. I have two recommendations based on your type of ‘scene’.

  1. For a younger audience, I love going to the Brass Monkey with my friends. With chill music, reasonably priced drinks, and a chilled atmosphere, this pub is by far my favourite place to go for drinks with my mates. It’s not touristy at all, and overall a great place to chill for those into a hip and chilled scene.
  2. For a mature audience, I would suggest a traditional scottish pub in the Grassmarket, such as The Black Bull or The White Hart Inn! There are many choices to choose from in this area, so venture out and try out a few pubs!

It may only seem like a few things to do and see in Edinburgh, but you will be surprised how fast the time goes when you venture to these sights and restaurants as well as indulge in your first scottish experience in Edinburgh.

194172_10152152315325032_435953116_o

If you have any comments or suggestions about going to Edinburgh (How to get there, where to stay, what else to do, etc.), please leave them in the comment section below!

If you have been to Edinburgh, please let me know what your personal favourite things to do, see and eat! If you plan to visit Edinburgh, what are you most excited to see and do?

Check out the video of my first time in Edinburgh here

Advertisements
Categories: Blog, Edinburgh, Fall, Holidays, Night Life, Scotland, Seasons, Spring, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom, Youtube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Next Stop: Liverpool, England

With a love for The Beatles and spark of interest to visit such a historical city, I was finally able to cross Liverpool (or “Liverpewl”) off my Places To Go list.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when my friend Caroline and I arrived in Liverpool. We didn’t go with a tour company and had all the free time to do whatever and go wherever we wanted.

Because it was so sunny and beautiful that morning and didn’t know what the weather would be like later on, we decided to journey to Albert Dock, which is one of the most touristy places in Liverpool; mainly because of the shear beauty of the docks, but also due to the fact that the Beatles museum  as well as other museums that are located in the vicinity.

   

Albert Dock was the first place I visited and the last place I visited; it was my most favourite place about Liverpool. It was so incredibly beautiful and full of history. They had the Beatles Story Exhibition, the Tate Liverpool, International Slavery museum, and so many restaurants, shops and cafes. They even had a Yellow Submarine at the docks; if only I had gotten a chance to ride on it.

After a beautiful morning at Albert Dock, Caroline and I decided to venture into the heart of the city and see the three main cathedrals and churches that were of immense significance and beauty. We travelled through Chinatown to get to our first cathedral on our list: The Liverpool Cathedral.

  

Words can not express how beautiful this cathedral was, and most important, how huge it was. This Anglican Cathedral Liverpool of is the largest in the United Kingdom and the fifth largest in the world.

The exterior was just as beautiful as the interior; except this cathedral was free to see the inside, which makes things much more epic! The inside was awe-inspiring and even just the staircases reminded me how beautiful architecture is (and this was all because of a staircase). The photo to the left just reminded me of a scene from Harry Potter within Hogwarts. I wonder if these staircases move? Probably not. They were still magical to see none-the-less.

I rarely go to church, but I would most definitely go to a service if it was held in this magnificent cathedral.

   

Our next stop consisted of this run-down Church called St. Luke’s. It was located on the top of Bold Street and was significantly destroyed from bombing during the 1940’s. It is commonly now known as “the bombed-out church” and is quite interesting to see.

As we ventured through Bold street, which is known for there vintage shops and cafes, and finally came to the third and final church on our list: the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral.

This cathedral looks like a bloody spaceship. It was actually really interesting to see and to take a look inside. I felt like I was in space or at least in a futuristic setting.

What I liked most about all three of these churches was the fact that they were all free to see and go inside; those are my favourite types of churches.

Caroline and I began to walk towards Mathew Street where The Cavern was located. The Cavern was where the Beatles first performed at a club during the 1960’s, and is now a huge tourist attraction.

      
After we hung out with The Beatles, we journeyed through the more industrial and busy area of Liverpool until we came to the World Museum. This was the start to journey of seeing all the museums in Liverpool.

Seeing as how time was limited, we decided to only go into two of the three museums on our list. The World Museum was not one of the two we really wanted to see.

Instead, we made our way back to Albert Dock to see the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Inside this museum, the had free entry to see the Titanic exhibition, as well as entry to the International Slavery Museum.

  Both the Titanic exhibition and Slavery museum were extremely interesting and knowledgeful. Both the history of the Titanic, as well as the history of Slavery interest me in a mixture of ways, and I learned a lot from both exhibitions.

After viewing the two exhibitions, we decided to head to Liverpool One, to see what it was all about. Basically, Liverpool One is like a giant shopping mall, except that its outside. You can climb this giant hill to reach the top floor of the shopping centre, and when you look below, you feel like your in an indoor shopping mall, but you’re not. It was really interesting to see, and there were lots of interesting and fashionable shops.

We realized that we had a few more hours left and decided to go to the Tate Liverpool. They had a Monet exhibition going on, but it costed a large amount of money to see it, and since I’ve already seen a lot of Monet paintings, I decided not to go. Instead, we were able to view some works of art on 2 floors of the Tate museum (because it was free). The works of art on these two floors were very contemporary and fairly odd pieces of art work; interesting, but questionable. I wasn’t as pleased by the art works offered at this museum compared to most of the free museums I visit, however, when I came to the last piece of artwork available, I was completely satisfied. They had one of the most recognizable, controversial and questionable pieces of art that really questioned “What Is Art? Who defines what is it?”: Fountain 1917 by Marcel Duchamp. I flipped when I saw this in the Museaum… but under close inspection, I realized that it couldn’t have been the real thing. Then I looked at the description block available on the wall, it backed up my hypothesis; a replica. Dang.

  

We spent the rest of our evening getting some Subway for dinner (YOLO!) and walking around the city and docks some more before we head to catch our ride back home to Leeds.


The sights and sounds of Liverpool were very beautiful and interesting. Even though Albert Dock was probably my most favourite thing about the city, I’m unsure whether I would have another reason to go back; it seems that Liverpool is just one of those cities that you only see once in your life and probably never go back. For me, it was missing that wow! factor…

I loved the churches, and found the museums very interesting, and would recommend the places I visited to those who have a desire to visit Liverpool. The air rings with Beatles music wherever you go, and if you get to visit Liverpool on a beautiful, sunny day; then you’re in luck.

~Ryan

Categories: Blog, England, Liverpool, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Next Stop: York, England

Seeing as how the beautiful and historical town of York is only a 45 mins bus ride away, my fellow Austrailian friends and I decided to take a last minute trip up to see what York had to offer.

I’ll give you a little historical overview of the town York:

York is home to a very rich and historical heritage, as well as significant and beautiful buildings, churches, and the wall. Surrounding York is a large medieval wall that was used to protect the city, government and inhabitants from destruction and many wars. Depending on the season, areas within York will have large floods, and although it looks really interesting to see roads and buildings engrossed by water, the floods lead to transportation issues and closing of shops and pubs. Overall, York was a very beautiful city with lots to offer in terms of history, culture and beautiful sights.

After a comfortable and quick bus ride to York, my aussie friends and I decided to walk around the city and begin our tour to see all the main attractions of York: The Shambles, York Minster, The City Walls, Clifford’s Tower, York Brewery, and The Golden Fleece.

Our journey began with a visit to The Shambles, which I must saw, looks like a scene from the Harry Potter films; it honestly looks like Diagon Alley. My favourite part was called “Little Shambles” and was filled with little interesting shops selling children’s toys to traditional English sweets.

There were old cobble stone roads that surrounded The Shambles and run-down, crooked, wooden buildings that leaned over the alley. I was extremely tempted to pullout a wand and tap the bricks and waiting for the bricks to move, creating an entrance into the magical world of Harry Potter; I was so tempted… if only I hadn’t forgotten my wand at home. This place is a must see for those who visit York; especially fans of Harry Potter.

 

After a lovely walk through The Shambles and marketplace surrounding it, we ventured over to the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, which stands at the city’s centre: York Minster. The pictures below do not give the cathedral justice. York Minister was so big, that I couldn’t fit the whole thing in my camera to capture the beauty and entirety of the famous historical building. To go inside, it costed 16 pounds or so, and was highly recommended to go inside, as it is just as beautiful. However, I’m on a student budget for travelling expenses, so I didn’t go in; maybe another time. For now, I was just as amazed to see the exterior, as I probably would the interior.

  
Afterwards, we began our journey through the windy streets of York and explored the city by taking a look into the vast amounts of little shops and activities going on. We eventually came to the entrance to the City Walls; which was the coolest thing I’ve seen thus far in England. I find it fascinating that there are medieval walls still surrounding the city of York; not to mention the fact that you are able to walk on the city walls and literally circle around the city.


Every time I think of the walls, or see them, all I can think about is THE WALL from Game of Thrones. Back in the day, I’m sure the inhabitants would not want to leave the protection and safety within the wall or venture “North of the Wall”. The no dogs allowed on the city walls sign is also humourous to me, just as a result from references to Game of Thrones.

The walk around the City Walls was amazing, and the views of York were just gorgeous.

 

The Aussies and I decided to grab some food for lunch/dinner (or “tea” here) and ventured around the city some more for a good place to eat. We came across a pub called The Golden Fleece which was named the #1 Pub of the year, as well as a huge tourist attraction for it’s history and haunted stories. Apparently there are ghosts that inhabit the pub, and steal the menus and silverware (said the pub worker). The pub was really nice, and very dim lite. It definitely gave off the feel that it was haunted, but at the same time was a really cozy and interesting place to eat. The meals were somewhat pricey, but compared to other places, were extremely reasonable. The meals offered were humungous and extremely delicious. Therefore, the price was well worth it!

I had my very first English chicken pie; along side some chips and vegetables! It was extremely delicious and filling.
  

Once we finished our meals and relaxed for a good period of time, we ventured our way to Clifford’s Tower. This Tower is part of the York Castle, in which it was used as a prison and has an interesting history. The structure itself was so interesting to view as it sat on the top of a small hill.

  
Afterwards, we realized it was too late in the day to go anywhere else (there were a few more places I wanted to see in York, such as Castle Howard, but will have to wait for another day), so we decided to do what every British person does; have a pint at the local pub.

As we continued our journey through York to the bus station, I continued to admire the buildings, businesses, and interesting sights within the city walls. The city of York is one of my recommended places to visit while you are in England; it’s quite beautiful.

~Ryan

Categories: Autumn, Blog, England, Fall, Holidays, Seasons, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom, York | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Next Stop: Edinburgh, Scotland!

Thanks to the hundreds (and possibly thousands) of sheep that kept me busy counting on my 5 hours bus ride to Edinburgh, I finally made it!

Savannah, my Queens friend who is studying her year abroad in Edinburgh, met me at the bus station at 6:30pm and we began our journey through Edinburgh to her lovely flat. My phone died as soon as I arrived to Edinburgh, and was only able to take one picture outside the bus station, and to be completely honestly, I had no idea what it said at first.

Wanna buy a consonant, anyone? Apparently you can’t choose the letter S, T, or B.

We ended my first night in Edinburgh with a lovely, and extremely delicious home-cooked stir fry (Savannah is a masterchef), and got caught up with each others lives over a nice, cold pint.


DAY 2

Savannah had a few classes during the day and I slept in; once she got home we headed out to check out what Edinburgh was all about!

Beautiful weather and magnificent architecture! The city was filled with so many buildings and views that were breathtaking. As we walked around the city, it did the expected; it rained… but only for a good 5 mins and then it was nothing but sun for the rest of the day!

We came to Greyfriars Bobby, which is a very tourist-ie sight. Basically, the historical story goes as follows: Back in the day, the original owner passed away and his dog wouldn’t leave his side or grave for the longest time; truly man’s best friend. They keep the restaurant open in memory of him and have a statue of the dog nearby! If you touch the statue of the dog, it’s suppose to bring you good luck! 🙂

>

Afterwards, we passed by the “Famous” Elephant House where J.K. Rowling use to go and write; it was named “The Birthplace” of Harry Potter”. However, according to the locals, this is a false accusation. Apparently, J.K. Rowling did spend time in the Elephant House writing Harry Potter, but it wasn’t here; it was on the first floor of a place call spoons. (See picture below when I finally came around to visiting the actual birthplace, according to the locals). Scandalous.

I’m not totally sure which side of the story is true, buteither or, J.K. Rowling first began writing Harry Potter in the city where I was; and that’s super cool.

As we continued our journey through Edinburgh, Savannah took me through some really amazing places and gave me the non-tourist-ie look of the city; she showed me some really beautiful sights, as well as some of the places where she has classes and studies.

We got to “the royal mile” and made our way to the Edinburgh Castle. It was amazing! Definitely a sight to see in person.

We didn’t go in due to the fact that they charge £16 to get into the castle (what is with everything costing £16 to get in!?). We took the free train and just enjoyed the beautiful sights overlooking the city.

Typical Me; Updating my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Savannah and I then went shopping for a little bit because I needed more socks, especially some for our trip to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany that upcoming weekend. After we walked around the city some more, Savannah took me to Calton Hill, which is 10% of the effort up Arthur’s Belt, and possibly the place with the most breath-taking sights I have ever seen; completely worth the effort!
I’m showing you the next few pictures in full-size, because they are very much worth taking up most of the screen. 
Did I mention how beautiful Edinburgh is? Absolutely stunning.

On our way back into the city, we came to a very old cemetery where many historical people were buried. Savannah and I came across this one tombstone and realized that this man’s death date was the same day that we were visiting the cemetery; October 4th. Unlikely that anybody would visit him (as he passed away in 1875), Savannah left him a dandelion and we wished the good sir a happy deathday. What else do you say to a dead man on the day of his death?

We ventured back through the busy streets of Edinburgh and came to the “actual” birthplace of Harry Potter, where J.K. Rowling actually fathomed the idea of Harry Potter and began writing the first few chapters. Again, this is according to the locals. Weirdly enough, the owners of Spoon don’t like J.K. Rowling, and if someone mentions her name in the restaurant, they will apparently kick you out. I found this hard to believe, but didn’t want to test it out for myself. They still managed to have a plaque on the building with J.K Rowling on the front; this could all be a local myth for all I know.
 
Overall, an amazing day! I got to see some breath-taking views that I’ll never forget and finally got to explore Edinburgh, the capitol of Scotland!

~Ryan

Categories: Edinburgh, Scotland, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.