The Scottish Highlands - HP Day 4

Trip Start May 23, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2009

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Where I stayed
Apex International Hotel - Edinburgh

Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Monday, July 13, 2009

On Monday we had an early morning and left for the Highlands around 8. We made a few scenic photo stops along the way, which was much appreciated by everyone.  The Highlands were absolutely gorgeous.  I know that I often think and describe many things as beautiful but the Highlands are truly and utterly breathtakingly beautiful.  It's the kind of place where your camera can do no justice to and looks more like you are standing in front of a green screen and the image is superimposed on it.  It was really cool since we also came across two Scottish bagpipers at different stops.  We also went to visit Hamish, a Highland cow and he was so cute!  He was kind of drooling and you couldn’t see his eyes but he meandered on over to us when one of our group members held out an apple to him.  He ate, stood there, scratched himself on the wire and a wooden post, and David and I got a huge kick out of him. 

Our first HP stop was in Glencoe in the mountains where Hagrid’s hut was located in movies 3-6 (and is also seen in Braveheart).  Tanya and I were very determined to find the exact location so we used our extra bathroom break time to climb up the mountain in the overgrown plants. We met up with Michelle at the top of the mountain and we though we found the location but it was too high to get to since we hand to meet up with the rest of the group who were walking down the road.  This was probably the toughest location to visualize the set in.

Our group went for what Heather called a "20 minute downhill stroll" that ended up being three miles in sporadic rain.  There was a large bug that pinched and stalked David and it was pretty funny to watch him try to run away from it.  When we made it through the winding back roads we came across a cute, small, little town that was mostly full of inns and B&Bs.  We then had lunch in another town at a cafeteria-style restaurant attached to a tourist store and whisky shop.  We were all encouraged to try Heather Crème Whisky, a Scottish favorite, and my mom instructed me to go buy it for our table.  So there I was buying my first bottle of alcohol per my mom’s instruction… in my Harry Potter shirt.  It was quite a scene.  It was pretty good though and we got these itty bitty plastic cups to all give it a go.  After lunch and browsing the store we hurried onto the coach to drive to Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel.  This stop was my favorite of the day as it had he picturesque train viaduct and lake.  The Glenfinnan viaduct is very recognizable from the HP films, especially in the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron find the train in the flying car.  It was so cool to be there and see it in person. 

We followed a trail up the hill and took pictures, enjoyed the rain’s mist, and even all took a shot of Heather Crème together toasting to Harry Potter, of course. On the opposite side of the viaduct is Loch Shiel, a beautiful lake that is also recognizable from the train scenes and where Harry flew on Buckbeak during his Care of Magical Creatures lesson in the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It also was where they filmed the beach scene in Goblet of Fire where Hermione is sitting there and Viktor Krum struts by with a bunch of girls trailing behind him.  When I watched the movie I remember thinking that the background must have been CGI-ed because it was too pretty to be real and that Krum walked with a rather funny strut.  Not only was it extremely real and beautiful, the rocky shoreline was really rocky and difficulty to walk on thus explaining the high-knee strut. 

On our bus ride back we watched COS and part of POA (which was great but distracting because I probably should have slept).  COS was a lot of fun to watch because there were these hilarious subtitles that often misquoted, didn’t provide a quote, or seemed to make up its own dialogue.  If you were to watch the movie with no sound and just those subtitles you would be awfully confused.  It gave us all a really good laugh and we were cracking up at the ridiculous subtitles.  At one point “Filtch’s cat” became “Voldemort’s cat” and there were a bunch of other strange ones. 

We ended up getting back pretty late, almost 3-4 hours behind scheduled arrival (by choice though since we wanted more time at our locations) and trecked up the hill to Grey Friar’s Cemetery where a Tom Riddle is buried, pretty neat, huh?  Ok, its “Riddell” but it’s close enough.  Then we had a late night dinner, packed our bags at the hotel, and enjoyed our last night in Edinburgh.

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