Back at the end of January and beginning of February Paige and I took a quick trip over to Edinburgh for a few days. Paige has always wanted to go, particularly because of all the Harry Potter related landmarks around the city, and since we were able to get on the flights and found a wonderful, historical Airbnb right in the Grassmarket by the castle…it seemed like a great, albeit really, really cold, time to go!
After arriving, we bundled up and hiked up to check out Edinburgh Castle. Then we wandered around Victoria Street (which was literally only about a 5 minute walk from our flat). Victoria Street was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books…and we look wandering around the cute shops.
We also found Elephant House, and Spoon, where J. K. Rowling wrote the first few Harry Potter books…
Right there by Elephant House, in the same neighborhood, is the George Herriot School and Greyfriars Kirkyard. J. K. Rowling could see the Herriot School from Elephant House as she was writing, and it was the inspiration for Hogwarts. She would frequently take breaks and walk through Greyfriars, which also provided inspiration in the form of some familiar names….
We took a day trip to Stirling one day, and wandered around the town and toured the castle…
We also did a history-comedy-walking tour of Edinburgh…which was fantastic!
And finally, we toured Holyrood Palace and Holyrood Abbey. We walked around the Scott Monument, we traversed the Royal Mile, and explored Mary Kings Close. We shivered a lot, it’s true (we’re Florida girls!) but we loved every minute of our chilly Scottish, Harry Potter adventure!
Tim and I decided to drive up to Charleston for a couple of days last week and have a quick little getaway.
It’s been a stressful few weeks around here, so getting out of town was quite nice. Charleston was lovely, albeit hot and humid. But, we’re pretty much used to that, so we were fine. We ate (way too much) at some amazing restaurants (Husk and 82 Queen in particular- if you go to Charleston, try them!) We meandered, and wandered, and shopped, and went into museums and peered into old graveyards and sat on benches and looked at the water and talked sometimes…and sometimes we just sat in silence, and that was nice too.
We also took a carriage tour (Old South Carriage, ask for Elliott!) where our tour guide told us wonderful stories about the history of Charleston. I especially loved learning about the earthquake that hit Charleston in 1886 (at least a magnitude 7) and about the earthquake bolts we saw on many of the older buildings. He explained that after the earthquake, many buildings were damaged and so they inserted rods through the houses which were tightened or screwed weekly to bring the walls together and into alignment. It seems to have worked, as the houses are still standing all these years later!
It was a wonderfully relaxing, fun, and delicious few days.
The other place Paige and I wanted to visit was Annecy. Because Annecy is only 35 kilometers south of Geneva, I had hoped we could just hop on a train to do a day trip, but alas, there are no trains to Annecy. Instead, we took a bus. Which, despite stopping in every single teeny tiny village and despite taking an hour and a half to travel 25 miles or so…was actually sort of fun. It was a comfortable bus, and we got to people watch, and catch glimpses of everyday villages and towns and see cows and countryside and mountains. As Paige said, “It didn’t suck.”
Gruyère and Ementhaler on the hoof (So to speak)
When we arrived in Annecy, we walked to The Vieille Ville (old town) and found a market going on. It was packed! I was so jealous that I couldn’t shop and bring all that gorgeousness home with me!
Annecy is nicknamed the Venice of the Alps because of the many canals and bridges.
The water in Annecy (from Lake Annecy) is an almost uncanny, otherworldly turquoise color…but crystal clear. It is known as Europe’s cleanest lake. It’s amazing. (Fun fact: Paul Cezanne painted several watercolors of Lake Annecy.)
Annecy is vibrant and fun, filled with history, but with a youthful (and touristy) vibe. We loved our day there and only wish we’d had more time to explore!