Not Another Fringe Festival Post | My Favourite Meet-Ups | Part 2
Here’s the post that talks about how I had fun in Edinburgh and grew to really love the city. After settling into my flat (with Internet) and sorting out work, I was keen to start meeting new people. A former co-worker of mine at home (coincidentally Scottish), told me that an easy way to meet new people in a brand new place when you are no longer in school is to use Meet Up. For those of you that are not familiar, Meet Up helps people meet new people by creating events basically doing anything, anywhere, such as a pub night, city tour, fitness class, etc..
That First Meet Up…
To be honest, the first Meet Up I went to was a bit of a disaster. Now I laugh when I think about it. I decided to go to a movie night Meet Up showing “Girl on the Train”. My thinking on selecting a Meet Up was based on the very scientific procedure of “pick one and go”. I probably should have looked closer at the attendee list as they were all my parent’s age… They were all really nice, but not who I came to hang out with! I am happy to say that all my future Meet Ups were better, except one other where I accidentally joined the wrong group all because they had a large Meet Up sign and I logically thought I had the right group… Turns out the mass of people gathering in the hotel’s bar was my group… Lol!
The next one I went to was a free photo walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town with a local professional photographer. Meeting in front of the ironically artistic-looking Scottish Parliament, our guide took us to several scenic and unique parts of the city, while explaining how you can take better photos by learning to use your camera and smart phone better. It was a mixture of a technical crash course in photography (which I personally found interesting) and a tour of some of the touristy and least known places in the city. For example, we went through some hidden gardens and closes not far from the busy Royal Mile.
Here are some of the photos I took on this Meet Up.
-Scottish Parliament building
-Garden at Dunbar Close
On the Potter Trail
Another stellar Meet Up was the Harry Potter Tour from the Potter Trail, also free. This was a walking tour of all the places and symbols that influenced JK Rowling’s creation of the legendary series we also got to see where she wrote various parts of the series. I grew up while the books and movies were being released, so it made an impact on me to see the places where it all came together.
Starting at the statue of the Greyfiars Bobby (now a famous tourist landmark depicting a loyal terrier that came to visit his deceased owner’s grave everyday), our guide met us dressed as a mix of Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. He had red hair, flowing black cloak, and those stereotypical glasses! He explained to us the route of the tour, some general knowledge of KJ Rowling when she got the idea for the series and started writing.
As this was a Harry Potter tour, there were some quirky and amusing bits. For example, the guide mentioned to us that we would be crossing several streets on our tour. To do so safely, our guide said that he knew of a spell to stop traffic (something along the lines of traffic and random latin/magic infused word). He he! The guide also passed out wands to the group to help channel our inner magic. Of course I took one!
Our first stop was the Grefriars Kirkyard (a graveyard), right next door to the elite private school Heriot’s, which coincidentally looks exactly how I imagine Hogwarts. We stopped at several grave sites of former Edinburgh residents. All the names JK Rowling took from this site have been altered slightly to fit with her creative vision and probably not insult some of their decedents. There was the worst poet to have ever lived, surname closely resembling McGonogall, the Hogwarts professor. Next up was the gravesite of a wealthy man with the unfortunate surname close to Riddle, which JK Rowling took to form the name of everybody’s favourite villain, Tom Marvel Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort. Unfortunately for this unsuspecting resting soul, this gravesite attracts a lot of attention, particularly on Halloween night, where people come to duel with each other using wands right in front of the gravesite…
After that, we crossed streets with our handy traffic stopping spell curtesy of our guide. We saw an example of the type of flat JK Rowling has rented during the years she struggled balancing being a single mum and writing Harry Potter. As she found her flat to be dreary and not conducive to writing, she would write at several cafes including one owned by a family member who gave her free coffee on Nicholson Street. There is also another cafe overlooking Greyfiars Kirkyard and Heriots called the Elephant House, which is ridiculously busy.
The other stops on the tour reflected the period of time when JK Rowling became successful. For example she finished writing the last Harry Potter book in an executive suite at the high end and historic Balmoral Hotel. To celebrate the end of an important era and ever the classy lady, she doodled her name, date and the task she completed on a large bust of a historic figure in the room. What a bad ass. Rather than charge JK with damages, the hotel simply renamed and rebranded the suite, preserving it as the room where the seven part series came to an end. Win win!
Other Meet Ups
My other Meet Ups ranged from more thematic ones to more casual social ones in bars or pubs. I tended to do more of the later as I got more into daily life in Edinburgh. I know you want to know, so the other themed ones I went to are:
Harry Potter Quiz night at the Three Sister’s Pub
The Twelve Pubs of Christmas - a tour of 12 pups on Leith Walk (I only made it to 6 pubs before requiring food and then calling it a night)
Elf Movie night at the Three Sister’s Pub. - mulled wine and cozily bundled in the pub watching my favourite Christmas movie!
Game of Thrones pop-up bar were I had “The wall” drink - a short glass with a giant piece of ice with a generous amount of Whisky, aptly named. And there was also blood wine!
There is so much more to in Edinburgh besides the Meet Ups I went to (and I haven’t mentioned them all). I wish I had the opportunity to see more of the city’s top venues, events and fun places. But, I still think I did pretty well and of course I will be back!