Europe History Scotland UK

Scotland – Edinburgh – HMS Britannia & Harry Potter

Taking a black taxi from the airport

Scotland had been on my family’s wish list for awhile, and we are lucky to have the first week in November off from school. That time  is a great opportunity to travel because it’s shoulder or off season. We are fortunate that where we live I have one week that I can always travel off season.  Before our kids were in school, we almost always traveled during off peak times. It’s both easier on the budget and less crowded. 

All abord from the mall

I booked affordable accommodations for our one night in downtown Edinburgh. Since I knew we would only be in the room to sleep . I opted for clean, comfortable, and centrally located. Sometimes we splurge on fancier hotels, but usually only when there are amenities to use. Our first stop was to the HMS Britannia in Leith. We hailed a black cab for the short 15 minute drive to the docks. The entrance for Britannia is inside a multi story mall with many shops.

That’s a tricky park job

The HMS Britannia was Queen Elizabeth II’s former yacht which is now docked as a museum. While this may not be   something all children enjoy my kids love British history. They even watched some of Netflix’s  The Crown. Seeing the ship in the show made the visit more powerful. It’s a Travel by Marisa tradition to seek out movie and TV filming locations from shows we enjoy. The Crowne sets were exacting recreations of those onboard, and it was fun seeing them in real life.

The Royal Family
Verge Inn, HMS Brittania
Captains Murdock

While boarding the yacht, you walk through a visual history of the ship. The audio guide included in the ticket price, provides details of daily life on board. The tour includes five decks; living and sleeping quarter, as well as the dining rooms of the Royal Family. You also get to see the senior officers, and lower decks crew living areas. As well as the engine room, laundry room, and lounges. Especially amusing was seeing the sleeping quarters for visiting dignitaries. That space contained two twin beds. Imagining Bill and Hillary Clinton, seeing these small and sparse accommodations, brought a few laughs for the adults. On the lower level there is a concession stand selling a variety of sweets and fudges.

Royal Deck Team Room Spread
Royal Deck Team Room Spread

After touring the yacht, we had a lovely experience enjoying afternoon tea at the Royal Deck Tea Room. Scones and tea sandwich’s have always amused my kids, they like that everything is bite sized and tasty. The menu offered a good selection of options including soups, salads, and desserts.

The inspiration for Diagon Alley
Harry Potter First Year Wand Selection
Definitely a First Year and unsure of wand selection

Returning to the hotel we decided to ride on a double  decker bus through downtown Edinburgh. This was a low cost way to see the city, and decide where to get off spontaneously. We ended up getting off on a random street. Later we realized it appeared in the Harry Potter films. We even picked up some items from the original Harry Potter souvenir store located at the end of the block. Somewhat unplanned a quick map search revealed we were near The Elephant House cafe. This cafe is where J. K Rowling wrote some of the early chapters of Harry Potter. After a short stop for some coffee and more desserts we headed back to the hotel. Near the cafe you can also visit  the graveyard Greyfriars Kirkyard. Some of the names on the gravestone such as Riddle, McGonagall, and Moodie were used in Harry Potter. 

Tough making a choice in such a cool store

 We finished the night with diner at a Sherlock Holmes inspired pub by dining on fabulous meat pies, cottage pies, and gooey macaroni and cheese.Diner at a Sherlock Holmes inspired pub was delicious. They had meat pies, cottage pies, and gooey macaroni and cheese, this was a delicious way to end our evening. One of the things that surprised me was the quality of our meals in Scotland. I did not have high expectations about satiating our foodie tastebuds. And we ended up not having one bad or mediocre meal.  We finished the night with diner at a Sherlock Holmes inspired pub by dining on fabulous meat pies, cottage pies, and gooey macaroni and cheese.

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