Explore: Edinburgh

Explore: Edinburgh

Explore: Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a dream for wanderers. We recently took a quick day trip to explore the city for the first time, and I already can’t wait to go back. The old town is full of narrow crooked lanes with unique little shops and quirky architecture tucked away everywhere. You just stumble upon history everywhere you look. And above it all Edinburgh Castle is always looming.

Explore: Edinburgh

But you know I was really there to explore the city that helped to make my favorite story come to life and walk the streets that Jo walked and feel the energy she might have felt as Harry and Hermione and all the Weasleys, so many of my imaginary friends, were coming to life in her mind. 

Explore: Edinburgh

Obviously, we had to stop off at The Elephant House, one of the cafes that Jo frequently visited to avoid paying for heating in her Edinburgh flat while she struggled as a single mom. I don’t usually go all gooey over celebrities, but you guys, it’s Jo Rowling. You’ll have to forgive me. Besides, the hot chocolate was great.

Explore: Edinburgh

See that! That’s magic being born. Just shut up.

Explore: Edinburgh

Just around the corner from the Elephant House is Grey Friar’s Kirkyard. It’s creepy and beautiful. Of course, I had to find the grave of Tom Riddle, but really, if you’re one of those weirdos who likes wandering around in old graveyards, this one is definitely worth checking out. I think there are actual famous people buried there, but all I really cared about was Voldemort.

Explore: Edinburgh

Not far from here is Grassmarket and Victoria Street. I absolutely loved wandering past the colorful shops on the curving narrow road that some say was the inspiration for Diagon Alley. There was a vintage tweed shop that had me wanting exactly everything in the window, but the joke shop definitely put a huge smile on my face.

Explore: Edinburgh

You know I was happy when we found ourselves in an open market selling fresh produce, handcrafted jewelry, fresh bread, and gorgeous macarons. 

Explore: Edinburgh

I love that Edinburgh embraces it’s reputation as a magical city. They could have created tourist traps, but instead, this city seems to just hint at magic if you’re looking in the right places. I can’t wait to return and experience so much more of what Edinburgh has to offer.

Exploring: World of Wings

Exploring: World of Wings

Exploring: World of Wings

For Christmas this year, I opted for an untraditional gift for my husband. Instead of a tie or a watch or some other ultimately useless thing, I gifted him a Bird of Prey experience at World of Wings in Cumbernauld, Scotland.

Exploring: World of Wings

I married a man who happens to love animals more than people. I’m quite convinced he’d happily trade me in for a dog if he could figure out how to get the dog to make dinner. This gift was better than any single thing I could have bought him for a store. He was gloriously happy.

Exploring: World of Wings

I found a deal on Groupon to make his experience more affordable. They seem to run offers on a fairly regular basis in the winter months. I’m betting that if you want to go in the summer, you’ll have to pay full price.

Exploring: World of Wings

I was able to pay regular admission for myself and visit their entire collection of birds. I also got to take photos while Geoff got to handle some of the beautiful birds they care for. 

Exploring: World of Wings

If you want to do one of these hands-on experiences, you’ll need to book ahead, but if you just want to see the birds and watch a flying demonstration, you can stop by any time during their opening hours.

Exploring: World of Wings

It snowed the weekend we went, so the 15 minute walk from the train station was a bit more unpleasant than it might otherwise have been. If you have the ability to drive there, I’d recommend it, but it is reachable by public transport.

Exploring: World of Wings

We also grabbed a quick breakfast between the handling and the flying demonstration, and the food was better than I expected.

Exploring: World of Wings

If you’re an animal lover in the Glasgow area, I’d definitely recommend keeping an eye out for a deal at World of Wings. It was a lovely, if very cold, day well-spent.

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Exploring: London

Exploring: London

Exploring: London

We recently spent about 30 hours in London, and I think we walked about 25 miles in that time. It was a whirlwind and simultaneously overwhelming and wonderful.

Exploring: London

London is not known for being an affordable city, so if you need to book a hotel, you’ll probably have to be a bit outside the city center. We tried to avoid using the London Underground, but that didn’t work out. Still, I’d recommend going on foot as much as you can. I promise there will be something amazing to see.

Exploring: London

If you’re looking for a place to eat, use Yelp and filter for the lowest price setting. If you just step off the main road a bit, you’ll find something delightful and tasty.

Exploring: London

Definitely the coolest thing we did while we were in London was a Jack the Ripper walking tour. Technically, it’s free, and it wouldn’t have been that difficult to wander off at the end without leaving a tip. Of course, since my husband has worked in the tourism industry, we know how much that infuriates a tour guide who’s put a lot of passion into their tour. And I loved our tour guide. I feel like a jerk for not remembering her name, but she was amazing and the tour was fascinating. Check it out if you’re in London.

Exploring: London

My favorite thing about this city is the mash up of ancient, modern, and everything in between. There’s a high rise metal monstrosity right next to a pre-colonial building. Peek down a side street and you’ll see a Lewis Carroll pub. There’s a Gourmet Burger Kitchen literally next door to a prison museum. It’s crazy, and I love it.

Exploring: London

London was very crowded, so stopping to take photos proved a bit tricky. I still managed to snap a few moderately interesting shots. It was all so awesome, though, that I mostly just desperately wanted to see it with my own eyes. I don’t think I could live here, but there’s so much I want to see and do in London, I know we’ll be back.

Exploring: London

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