Sunday, August 23, 2015

A great way to see a new city is by Segway

It really is a fabulous way to see a city.  We've done it in Prague (they allowed kids of pretty much any age, try finding that anywhere in the States) and Paris (just the two of us).

We didn't do a Segway tour in any of the cities we visited this summer.  I just thought I'd mention it if you're thinking about it.  Totally fun, great way to see things.

Another great way to see a new city is a free walking tour.  A ton of cities have them.  The catch, if you can call it a catch, is that most guides do expect some sort of tip at the end. Pay what you want.

We took a walking tour in Edinburgh, but not just any tour.  We took the free Potter Trail tour.  If you're into Harry Potter, then you know that J.K. Rowling wrote a significant chunk of her books in Edinburgh, and she got much of her inspiration from the things and places she saw around her.

My kids were split on this.  Some felt that she cheated by not using her imagination more.  Yes, I'm serious.  Some felt that they had entered the real live Harry Potter world when walking the streets and alleys of Edinburgh.  I fell into the latter group.

So, tell me what this looks like to you in HP reference?

The tour guide, yes, dressed up.  He's standing by the marker of
the Scottish poet William McGonagall who's name was taken for our
favorite professor.  He was notoriously bad at poetry.
The ending of:
The Tay Bridge Disaster
by William McGonagall

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

In the same cemetery is the marker for the Riddell family,
with Thomas and his son, Thomas.  Rowling changed
the spelling to allow for Voldemort's anagram.

The inspiration for Diagon Alley.

The tour starts in from of Greyfriars Bobby pub.  There's a lovely
little statue of the pup with a very shiny nose.  The sign says his
little nose is rubbing away and to please not touch him.
Lots of people rubbed his nose anyway.
He's buried in the same graveyard as Tom Riddell and McGonagall.
Right near the cemetery is the school that Rowling's children attended, a definite source for how Hogwarts was run with its four houses.

And every single close, or windy dark alley filled with stairs between buildings throughout Edinburgh city center, was definitely the inspiration for Knockturn Alley.  Some were downright creepy.

We saw a number of spots along the way where Rowling had stayed, drank coffee, and/or wrote her novels.

Like I said, our family was divided.  I think she took some charming and mundane bits of Edinburgh and turned them into a world full of enchantment.  That's magical.

And hey, I just found something else to go explore when we return to Edinburgh (sometime).  Anyone visited Mary King's Close?

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