A Weekend in Edinburgh

Arcadia Summer Summer Abroad


July 3, 2017
By Elisabeth Heyde, London Internship Program, Summer

Last weekend, some friends and I went on the Arcadia Edinburgh weekend trip. After the heatwave that had hit London the week before, it was refreshing to escape the heat and go to Edinburgh where the weather was cool enough that we could wear sweaters.

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city! The city has a lot of history and, despite the hills, is very fun to wander around. While wandering Edinburgh, we saw bagpipe players and people dressed in costume in the touristy areas as well had lots of opportunities to souvenir shop. Edinburgh is a great place to buys cashmere and scarves and the Scottish Shortbread is delicious. There are tons of old castles and buildings were well-known historical figures once lived. Edinburgh has been home to Mary, Queen of Scots, Karl Marx and J.K. Rowling. Even Queen Elizabeth II has a palace in Edinburgh that she visits for one week out of every year.

Also, if you are as much of a Harry Potter fan as I am, this trip is perfect for you. We departed from Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station where I am slightly ashamed to say I even bought a replica of Fleur Delecour's wand. In Edinburgh, you can see a lot of places that inspired the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, was originally from Edinburgh and wrote a lot of the first few books in Edinburgh. The Elephant Cafe was where she wrote the first book and you can visit there and have lunch.

Our first day in Edinburgh, we took a walking tour and saw the Greyfiers Kirk graveyard which is rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling while writing the Harry Potter series. Apparently, when she would experience writer's block, she would take a walk in the graveyard. That might sound a bit odd but the graveyard is so beautiful that I can't particularly blame her. At the graveyard, we saw the grave of Tom Riddle (although on the gravestone it is spelled differently). As a huge fan, I was very excited and took many pictures, some with the wand I had just bought.

Our tour guide also took us to see the Scottish Parliament building which he explained was a relatively new building designed by a Spanish architect. The architecture is so unique! In the back of the building, there are thinking pods sticking out of the wall so the people of Scotland can watch their Members of Parliament working.

There are two major castles in Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle and Holyroad Palace. Edinburgh Castle is at the very top of the Royal Mile and is a must-see place in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle is also home to the Scottish Royal Jewels. From the Castle, there is a great view of Edinburgh. The Holyrood Palace is at the other end of the Royal Mile. There, you can see the rooms of Mary, Queen of Scots and walk in the beautiful garden. Attached to the Holyrood Palace is the Holyrood Abbey which was founded in 1128 but is now in ruins. It's very cool to stand in the ruins of the abbey and see Arthur's Seat through the gap where the ceiling used to be. Our tour guide even told us that they were preparing Holyrood Palace for the Queen's visit to Edinburgh later that week. Unfortunately, the Queen was not in Edinburgh when we were but it was cool to see them setting up the palace.

On our last day, I went to the Princes Street Garden and to see Dean Village. Both are very beautiful and very picturesque. Princes Street Garden had a great view of Edinburgh Castle and was full of beautifully kept gardens. Dean Village was a bit of a hike but it was well worth it. The Dean Village area of Edinburgh is very peaceful and quaint. From Dean Village, you can walk down the Water of Leith Walkway and see the Water of Leith, a river that turns into a small waterfall.

Edinburgh was definitely a lovely place to visit. If you get the opportunity to visit Edinburgh or Scotland in general, I highly recommend it!

Elisabeth is a student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is blogging from her summer abroad with the London Internship Program, Summer program, in London, England.