After a few days on the Isle of Skye, it was time to make our way back down south to Glasgow. From here we would take the train to Edinburgh and see as much as we could in the limited time we had. We took the train from Fort William to Glasgow, but before we left we stopped at the most amazing cafe. The Wildcat is an all vegan cafe right in the heart of the Fort William city center. An unexpected stop, but worthy of mentioning.
The train from Fort William was simple enough, and we arrived in Glasgow with a few hours of daylight left. I wanted to take a quick stroll around the city center, so I chose Buchanan Street and got a brief taste of Glasgow. We didn’t plan much time in Glasgow, other than using it as a launch pad, but I feel I saw enough for this trip.
The real star of the Glasgow show was the hotel, I mean castle we stayed at our first night back in the city. Throughout our trip I chose a handful of hostels because I am cheap as hell, but my friend Sam chose this one. I don’t like spending a lot of money on a place I plan to sleep, but I admit it was worth the price tag.
We arrived here early enough to be in our mini suite as long as we could.
The Sherbrooke Castle Hotel was built in 1896 as a villa for a man, and still has the historical feel of that time frame. The castle is in a neighborhood we called the Beverly Hills of Glasgow, pinky’s up. The staff was wonderful, and the food was exceptional. Our server for the evening was the kindest, most down to earth girl we’d met all trip. She really made our experience wonderful. 10/10 recommend if you want to splurge a little.
After a leisure morning in the castle and delicious breakfast the following day, we took a taxi to our B&B for the night to drop off our backpacks. We stayed at the Clifton Hotel our final night in Scotland, where we stayed our first night as well. Bags were dropped and we walked the catch a train to Edinburgh for the day. Until this point of the trip, I never quite felt like I was in another country.
Sure, the castles were amazing and the waterfalls were endless, but the climate in Scotland is a lot like my home state of Washington.
I’d have moments where I knew I was somewhere else, but ultimately it wasn’t a true feel of another country. Until I arrived in Edinburgh. My only regret for this trip was not making more time to spend in Edinburgh, this city is AH-MAY-ZING. We had a loose schedule for this day, but we knew we needed to go to Edinburgh Castle, and walk the Royal Mile. Upon arrival, we were spit right in front of a beautiful cafe, where I tasted the most amazing coconut milk latte of my life.
Immediately as we walked around the corner towards the castle and onto the Royal Mile I felt it. The buildings were amazing, and the streets were wobbly. The culture was rich (though touristy of course) and the street performers were traditional. The cathedrals were large, and the cafes were quaint. I was in love, and I was excited to wander.
Admittedly, the Edinburgh Castle was my least favorite spot. While it’s definitely a must see, I found it to be far too touristy, too crowded, and overall the experience felt very commercialized. It was also FAR too big (must be niceee) and I was overwhelmed by all there was to see. I did however find the dungeon area very fascinating, and they have original doors from the 1700’s with prisoners carvings.
Regardless of my opinion, this is such a place of history in Scotland that it’s a must see, even if just from the outside.
After the castle it was time for a snack. I quickly remembered reading about a cafe in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling spent many hours writing the beginnings of Harry Potter, and ten minutes later we found ourselves in line at The Elephant House. This cafe is busy, for obvious reasons, and there is no wifi. They have a sign as you walk in that says: “we do not have wifi. Talk to each other. Pretend it’s 1995.” I loved that.
I also loved the chocolate cake and espresso I consumed, as I daydreamed about what it must have been like to write a book with Edinburgh Castle out the window. The bathrooms in The Elephant House are completely graffitied, with endless praise for J.K. Rowling. It was quite the sight, and reading the words as I relieved myself was entertaining to say the least. This is a definite must see if you’re a HP fan, or if you like a good espresso and cake.
The Harry Potter tour doesn’t stop here, Edinburgh has plenty of other HP themed shops and locations. One street in particular is well known for its different colored buildings, and is said to have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley. Even if you’re not a HP fan, Victoria Street is another must see. The buildings alone are a blast. On this street you’ll find shops like The Boy Wizard, and Museum Context, a Harry Potter themed museum.
After channeling my inner witch, it was time to wander the streets and soak up the culture. We visited St Giles Cathedral, watched street performers, and went into tourist shops. We ended our adventure at Byron for a chicken burger and chips. It was delicious, and our Barcelona bred server was equal parts accommodating as he was charming. I told him I’d be back (for both a meal and his face.)
After our meal it was time to head back to the train, which proved to be an adventure in itself. Our platform to get back to Glasgow was changed not once, but twice. We quickly discovered the majority of train riders around us were also tourists and we all had to scramble to find the new platform. It was comical, and we eventually departed the city. Perhaps this was a sign we should have stayed longer.
There is so much more to see in Edinburgh, the seven hours we were there wasn’t nearly enough time. Until we meet again.
The final highlight of my trip to Scotland, was upon arrival back in Glasgow. I had seen a gelato/churro shop as we walked to the train station earlier that day, and despite the fact that it was nearing 10pm I knew I had to have some. So there I was, sitting in the Loop and Scoop (among many other late night sweet tooth’s) consuming the most ingenious flavor combination of my life. Homemade churros, and gelato, what more could you ask for?
Life was good. Life was really, really good.
Q: Are you a Harry Potter fan?