The land of single malt and fantasy
I knew one thing for sure when I landed in Edinburgh in the UK—the whiskey would be awesome. After all, I was in the “land of the single malt”. The...
Scotland holds many a beautiful sight, with Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh that offers a bird’s eye view of the city, and better yet, something for the Potter fans who can feel right at home scouting for Tom Riddle’s grave during a Ghost Tour!
I knew one thing for sure when I landed in Edinburgh in the UK—the whiskey would be awesome. After all, I was in the “land of the single malt”. The first thing that hit me was the cold. I had been in England for five days before I came to Scotland so I thought I would be accustomed to the weather but I was wrong. Scotland is damn cold!
One of my most memorable experiences is the visit to whiskey distilleries where I tried some of the best drinks along the road including Dalwhinnie, Tomatin and Glenfiddich—I am still yearning for more! Over the course of the first two days, I spent a large amount of time on the Royal Mile in the Old-Town and I barely saw a fraction of the shops it has. There are around 400 types of whiskeys available and I was spoilt for choice.
Almost all the walking tours of the city (including the whiskey tour) start from the St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. I took a Ghost Tour, which ended at a graveyard that has graves of characters from the Harry Potter books like McGonagall and, wait for it, Tom Riddle! A few Potter enthusiasts and I went searching for Riddle’s grave at midnight in the darkest corners of the graveyard.
The old-world charm is breathing in the city; from the moment I alighted the train, I couldn’t stop admiring the buildings and architecture the city holds. After two days in Edinburgh, I went on a three-day ‘Isle of Skye’ tour with about 20 people.
The tour was organised by Haggis Adventures. As we went north, the landscape changed from buildings to valleys—the rolling hills, the greenery, the cloud-covered mountains—it was literally breathtaking!
Riding amidst local folklore narrated by our guide, for every nook and corner seemed to have a story associated with it, the landscape reminded of a mix of Harry Potter world and Middle Earth. If Loch Ness was the lake where the trio jump off a dragon in the ‘Deathly Hallows’, the valleys of Glencoe were the realm of Rohan.
En route, we passed many lakes and mountains and such was their beauty that four two hours no one spoke in the bus. We passed a stream, where legend has it, if you put your face in for seven seconds, yours will be the prettiest face in the whole world.
With freezing temperature, rain and ice-cold water, a handful of people include me, dunked in. My face didn’t change, except maybe it turned blue but, still I loved doing it.
Voted as the third most beautiful island in the world, Isle of Skye holds its honour. Atop the island, looking out at the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, this was truly the “peak” of my adventure.
The next day we went to Eilean Donan Castle and thanks to the rains, our arrival was greeted with a rainbow coming out from behind the Castle making it even prettier. On the final day, we toured the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.
When it was finally time to leave, I felt the country pulling me back towards it. Being a vegetarian, I was prepared for it being difficult for me to find options for food but it turned out to be quite the opposite; almost every dish has a vegetarian option available. Now, that’s good tourism!
Scaling Arthur’s Seat
When visiting Edinburgh, most people put this on “top” of their to-do things and rightly so. It is a 30-40 minute trek (depending on your speed) atop the hill, which gets a little bit tricky as one nears the peak. The view from the top gives a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the city. I would suggest carrying water bottles with you; you’re bound to get tired by the time you reach the top.
At Harry Potter’s birthplace
Being the Harry Potter fanatic I am, I visited ‘Elephant House’—the café where JK Rowling wrote the books when she was a struggling author. Interacting with around 20 people (kids, middle-aged and an old couple as well), all Potter fans, I felt right at home. The café walls hold clippings about how Jo came to the place and drank her lone cup of tea as slowly as possible, because she could not afford a second.