Scotland: Harry Potter, Hogwarts and haggis

by Emely Navarro, International Staff Writer

I was excited to visit Scotland for three reasons: my best friend Dominique Vitti was studying abroad there, I am obsessed with Mary Queen of Scots, and J.K. Rowling got some inspiration for Harry Potter from Scotland. As most travel experiences are, the trip to Scotland was a learning experience. Here are some tips I picked up along the way.

Getting to Scotland

The process of getting from Spain to Scotland was a struggle, to say the least. My friend Mayra and I left Zaragoza, Spain at noon and arrived in Barcelona, three hours before our flight to Scotland.

After we grabbed something to eat, checked in and found our gate, we were informed our flight had been delayed because of excessive air traffic. We were allowed to board the plane, but we were unable to leave until the traffic had cleared.

Two hours after our flight was supposed to depart we were finally on our way to Scotland.

Visiting Glasgow

Glasgow is very aesthetically pleasing, with Christmas lights decorating the streets and cute coffee and tea shops everywhere you look.

Glasgow’s West End is where the University of Glasgow is located, one of several schools that reportedly inspired the look of Hogwarts from Harry Potter.

The building said to have inspired Hogwarts is the language building. The exterior, hallways and courtyard look nearly identical to the movies. I literally felt as if I was learning how to fly a broom for the first time in the courtyard and walking through the hallways made me feel like I was walking to my potions or defense against the darks arts class.

Aside from the University of Glasgow, Ashton Lane was my favorite sight. It is a street filled with unique, cozy pubs and cafes.

Glasgow’s city center is more urban than the West End. It features Cineworld, the tallest movie theater in the world standing at 203 feet.

My favorite part of the city center was the food and a building called The Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, showcasing architectural exhibits. After climbing what seemed like a million stories to the top, you can get a 360-degree view of the city and it is truly worth the exercise.

Visiting Edinburgh

I am obsessed with Edinburgh. I was fortunate enough to go when there were clear skies and sunlight, which I think made the city more magical to me.

There are several Harry Potter-inspired places here.

Edinburgh Castle is one of them. The castle, which sits atop a hill, is one of the city’s biggest landmarks. It is at the end of the Royal Mile, a street that connects the castle with the Palace Holyroodhouse and is in the center of the Old Town of Edinburgh.

The castle is said to have inspired how Hogwarts is located atop a rock mountain.

The Elephant House is one of several coffee shops where J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series. Its bathroom is filled with writing dedicated to the author and the Harry Potter series.

Greyfriars Kirkyard is a graveyard in Old Town Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling got inspiration for some character names for the Harry Potter series, most famously Tom Riddle.

Let me tell you, she definitely went to a hidden corner in that graveyard to see that name.

It was a huge mission searching for Tom Riddle’s name in that graveyard. I walked the entire main part of the graveyard and had to go to another area off to the side all the way at the end, looking at several names until I eventually found his.

Aside from Old Town Edinburgh and the Royal Mile, Edinburgh was filled with beautiful shops, amazing tea and a terrific park underneath Edinburgh Castle.

Don’t Try Haggis

Haggis is a traditional Scottish pudding dish that consists of sheep liver, heart and lungs.

It certainly doesn’t sound or look appetizing, so why did I have some? Because everyone told me to try it when I told them I was going to Scotland so I was like “why not? I can cross it off my bucket list.”

Don’t try it. Just don’t, because you will get sick and have to use the bathroom or get an upset stomach the entire day.

Lessoned learned, don’t listen to what everyone says.

Give Scotland at least a week

One thing I regret about my visit to Scotland is that I was only there for three days. Scotland is such a beautiful country, I wish I could have stayed there longer so that I could have gone and explored The Highlands and some surrounding islands.

I have plans to go back to Scotland soon, rent a car and spend a good amount of time there so I can really see all of its wonders.