Edinburgh for the Broke Harry Potter Fanatic! – Around the ‘burgh on 80 Pounds

Edinburgh for the Broke Harry Potter Fanatic! – Around the ‘burgh on 80 Pounds

 

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View of Caleb’s List (Scottish mountains) from Edinburgh

Having initially promised to visit Edinburgh to ring in 2016, I ended up leaving it far too late to book flights within my price range, and spent New Years’ in Kilkenny instead. Luckily I have a friend with whom I could stay in Scotland, and so Ryanair’s flash sale before Christmas allowed me to secure flights from Dublin- Edinburgh for €19.99 for a more budget-friendly weekend in January! (That’s about £15!)

Simple, right?

 Exceedingly so. The Airlink bus to and from the airport which leaves every 15-20 minutes or so was £7.50 for a return ticket, and brought me straight to my destination. While I contributed to the kitty in my friends’ flat for food and drink to last us the weekend (-£20), I still felt guilty enough about staying that I made a point to research all things Harry Potter around the city for us to do free of charge. Inspired by this post on the subject by World of Wanderlust, I happily concluded that an interesting day-tour was entirely feasible and cheap in such a dynamic and fascinating city.

Because who doesn’t love Harry Potter?

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Edinburgh Castle

The truth is that Edinburgh is an exciting and beautiful enough city to mean that any walk up down and around the cobbled streets and ancient architectural delights is sure to appeal to anyone, be they a fan of Harry Potter or not. 12528060_10153291186813483_1893488306_n

 Our first stop, The Elephant House Café, or ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter’, has risen to fame as the spot where J.K. Rowling sat writing the beginnings of the series that came to define a generation (and my entire childhood, BA degree, the reason I did English in college, and probably the reason I’m writing this right now).

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Arguably the most obvious choice on the list, I was excited to visit this place, but in hindsight The Elephant House turned out to be a café….fairly similar to any other.

12527649_10153286889188483_1551068699_nElephants aside, the fact that J.K. Rowling once sat in there and drank a mediocre cup of coffee and presumably a bowl or two of the rather bland carrot soup is definitely the most exciting thing to have ever happened within those walls.
Coffee, Harry Potter memorabilia and fans’ scribblings on the bathroom walls, along with cute elephant statues and pictures everywhere you can look, the place sounds ideal, right? Yes, in theory. But where The Elephant House excels in reputation, decor and renown, it lacks seriously in the quality of service department. As I’ve described, the coffee itself was mediocre, and the soup only barely satisfactory for the price we paid (£8-£10). As an enormous Harry Potter, coffee, and elephant fan, the prospect of visiting this place had possibly been built up far too much for me, and I left feeling somewhat disgruntled and irritated particularly by the persistant use of the Jokerman font on everything from the sign outside to the cheaply crafted mugs for sale by the till. Still, nobody ever said it was famous for anything but its proximity to JK Rowling in the throes of writers’ inspiration. I’ve written things in worse places.

12540072_10153290315693483_280042630_nWe continued our tour down towards Greyfriars Kirk graveyard, a spooky burial ground which gave me chills down my spine even in the middle of the day – granted, Edinburgh in January is FREEZING at the best of times, but Greyfriars’ was on another level. It took us several rounds of the fairly small but hilly area to find what we were looking for – a medium-sized headstone detailing the remains of the Riddle family, the father of whom, Thomas, has unknowningly lent his name to a famous villian Who Must Not for Ministry reasons, ever Be Named. Tom Riddle, or Lord Voldemort, as those in the wizarding world have come to know him. The name on the headstone which spurred Rowling on to name the most good-looking boy in Slytherin was fairly nondescript, with nothing special to note except for the slightly more worn down pathway and footprints both leading up to and surrounding it.

Onwards from here we merely walked past the Balmoral Hotel into which Rowling supposedly checked in order to finish the 7th installment of the series, feeling more and more like we were taking a tour of Rowling’s psyche in the initial days of her inspiration and writing, rather than a tour of the magical world itself – something I for one was entirely happy to discover. I can imagine how others’ might expect slightly more obvious and tourist-directed attractions selling Potter merchandise and boasting themselves as a huge part of the series, but in all honestly, the genuine nature of this stunning city made it obvious how such inspiration and refuge had been drawn from it in the first place, and the lack of tourist extravagance was a huge bonus for me.

Unrelated to the Potter series, but beautiful all the same, we took a walk up Calton’s Hill to catch a 360 view of the city, and freeze off the remaining tips of our fingers. We also walked most of The Royal Mile, and got great views of the castle and the exterior of Camera Obscura.

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View from atop Calton’s Hill

That evening, in true cheapskate style that suited my poor purse down to the ground, we attended a house party where food and drink was supplied, and entry to the pub afterwards was free. El Barrio, a Latino pub/club proved a great evening’s entertainment with great music, cheap drinks (£5) and people alike! The Three Sisters not too far away has also proven a favourite spot on previous occasions, but one night out this particular weekend just after Christmas was more than enough to satisfy everyone!

 

A yoga class at Meadowlark Yoga (£12) the following morning and a tasty vegetarian lunch at the Forest Café (£5-£7) which caters for Edinburgh’s artistically-minded and creative cretins (ie, the biggest hipsters in Scotland), I was happy to conclude that my weekend away had altogether cost no more than around £80 pounds (flights included).

 

I spent my final 3 pounds on a hot chocolate in the airport as I left the chilly Scotland behind to return to an equally as freezing Dublin airport. All in all a great weekend and definitely extremely affordable.
But fecking COLD!!

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Happy January!

 

 

 

Useful Links:

Airlink Edinburgh
Ryanair
WOW – World of Wanderlust
The Elephant House 
The Royal Mile Edinburgh
The Three Sisters EdinburghWebsite/Facebook/TripAdvisor
Calton’s Hill Edinburgh
Meadowlark Yoga
Forest Café
El Barrio 

Let’s Be Honest…

Let’s Be Honest….

 I would love nothing more than to recount remarkable tales for you. To tell of great deeds and funny stories, incredible experiences I’ve had and interesting things I’ve witnessed. I relish in being of interest to people – seeming knowledgable of certain topics when they arise in conversation. I have so many ideas and plans and potential project ideas and life desires that when I get excited about them I could talk for hours on end until you’d be sick of seeing my eyes light up about all the possibilities under the stars.
‘Get real’, you’d probably say.

My blog I use as an outlet to put some of these more outlandish ideas into shape, to actually sit with them momentarily and coax them into some sort of comprehensible versions of the raving notions and ideas they really are. Even with this, I feel I rarely fully capture the essence of what I think or feel, because the passions are so fleeting and frequent and eccentric that it’s difficult to latch onto them when they pass by. Although I would love nothing more than to be a source of wisdom, advice, and comfort to anyone in need, the fact of the matter, of MY matter, and the only matter I will ever truly know, remains that I am only one human.

Only one human, who can only undertake and process one moment, one feeling, one experience at a time. Even at this, I have astonished myself with some of the friendships and connections I have managed to make in moments when these feelings and experiences have become jumbled and panicked in my mind. Those I care about and surround myself with all come from different backgrounds; we have shared experiences, emotions, good times and bad times together. I have shared struggles, lent on shoulders that were there when I was confused and couldn’t handle things by myself, and gulped down cups of tea made out of pity, out of love, out of concern by people who have shown me genuine care and affection. The one consistent thing I have found about the human race and people’s opinions towards mental health and hard times and ‘shit we’re going through’ is that in general; everyone gets it.

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Being open and honest about my own difficulties has helped me connect on deeper levels with people, and form bonds of confidence and trust stronger than your average friendship or aquaintence. Discussing things nobody really wants to discuss. Discussing things with people that they themselves feel uncomfortable about sometimes has a weird way of drawing you closer together. When you are your true self more and more, you delve into the true essence of what it means to be you – you may never find the answers, but hey, it’s fascinating (and sometimes scary!) to look. When you get the opportunity to be this self with people and different walks of life, you really realise the universality of our condition; our struggles, and of our mindsets, wants, needs, and tendencies as human beings.
Age is but a number. Nationality, religion, height, weight, shape, size – these are all just contributing factors which make up the way people have been shaped and categorized in an effort to glean some sort of understanding and make sense of the mass of people and identities who now walk upon the earth.

None of us really know why we’re here. In accepting that fact instead of continuing to struggle to ascertain myself as something different or special or to discover something new; in accepting myself and my body and condition for what I am; an unknown mass of cells making up one seven-billionth of the worlds’ population; there is a sense of freedom that I never thought could have been achievable by doing what I did and being open about struggles when they were occuring.
Because the truth is that we are all struggling. Each little tiny ant to roam the 7 continents we call home is struggling. It is how we choose to process and consider this struggle that makes the difference.

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Today I woke up, unemployed, in my parents’ home, with no particular plan or goals for myself to achieve for the day. Instead of asking myself ‘What the hell am I doing with myself?’ I chose to sit up and say “What CAN I do with myself?”
The answers to this second question were endless. They ARE endless.
I didn’t glean any monetary income from today, but I sure as hell didn’t waste it.
The sun was shining. I sent a few emails. Applied for a few jobs. Did a bit of my TEFL course online. Went to a yoga class. Made dinner. Now I’m writing this. I had every intention of creating and writing something informative, witty, groundbreaking, even, but instead I’ve accepted that the flow simply wasn’t there today. It simply wasn’t ready; the right mental stream and balance wasn’t open.

In spending so long stuck in an unbalanced, panicked and chaotic mental state, I now feel the effects of actual order and balance hyper-sensitively, and as such I am more proactive in everything I do.
I don’t mean to make it sound like the low I hit a few months ago was beneficial to me, because it was honestly the most confused, upset, and terrified I’ve ever been in my whole life. But I’m a firm believer that hitting rock bottom sometimes is necessary to be able to build your way all the way back up to where you were, and go even higher.

Like J. K. Rowling once said; “Rock bottom became the firm foundation on which I built the rest of my life”.

And she wrote Harry Potter. Enough said.

We all go through shit. We all feel like shit at times. It’s whether or not we let those feelings win, and decide not to try anymore that defines who we are. Each day is a choice. Each hour is a choice. Each step, each outfit, each meal, how we choose to spend each evening is a choice we can all make.
Do yourself a favour, and be honest with yourself. What is it you want to do? What is it that you love?
Take the time to listen to yourself – your ‘authentic’ self, for want of a less-cheesy expression, and be the contribution to this world that you would look at and say ‘I wish I did that’.
Be a radiator instead of a drain. Radiate that which you want and rave about seeing and doing, instead of just taking it all in and swallowing it up.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for once. When it comes down to it, even opening up and letting others in is only a method of dealing with ourselves – a way to help us process what’s going on in our own minds. In the end it’s up to us individually to be honest with our own needs, wants, and be that little bit selfish when it comes to putting ourselves first. Because let’s be honest; we’re all we’ve got!

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