My last morning in London began with a loudspeaker announcement that there was an emergency in the hotel, we were to evacuate immediately, and under no circumstances should the elevators be used. I had a plane to catch, so I dragged my luggage out the door much earlier than planned, and I did not look back.
A few hours later I was in Auld Reekie (Edinburgh, Scotland) walking among the Laudonians.
My first place of residence had a castle view, and promised to be a retreat within steps of everything I’d need. The castle was there—directly out the kitchen window. But the apartment was also completely surrounded by a construction project that began early the next morning, with stone masons hammering into a wall and a giant crane orbiting loudly overhead. Air BnB is not always what it promises to be. I canceled the reservation, found a new one, and spent my first full day in Potterville.
Castle view from my kitchen.
Grassmarket, just around the corner.
Potterville is my term for what became my new neighborhood. One of the local cafés, the Elephant House, claims to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, because J.K. Rowling is said to have written her first Potter book from a favorite corner table. However, other establishments on the same block display window signs that read, “Probably also the birthplace of Harry Potter,” which is funny, and likely that the author moved about when seeking another warm place to write each day. She has declined to say.
View from my corner table.
The Elephant House does not have WiFi but they do have graffittied toilet stalls, filled with sentimental outpourings.
On the same block, the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard and the legend of the Greyfriar’s Bobby is a much older attraction. As the mid-19th-century story goes, the bereft Skye Terrier of a deceased policeman watched over his master’s gravesite for 14 years, which, when you think of it, makes that one very long-lived dog. Did it really happen? We like to think so.
Entrance to the churchyard with its historic gravestones is the alley between these buildings.
The Greyfriar’s Kirk backs up to my current Edinburgh pied-à-terre.
Directly across from Greyfriar’s is the modern National Museum of Scotland—an excellent place to spend a rainy afternoon. Admission is free, the staff is welcoming, and the café is nestled peacefully away from the school tours.
To be continued …
Photos by Cynthia Albers unless otherwise noted
© Cynthia Albers, All Rights Reserved, 2019