Scot­land’s lat­est tourist at­trac­tion is the Harry Pot­ter train, but that is not the only thing mag­i­cal about the coun­try By Juhi Chawla

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - Advertisement - BY JUHI CHAWLA

We went to Scot­land be­cause of the kids; be­cause the kids were look­ing for magic – specif­i­cally the Harry Pot­ter train ride, given that Scot­land is JK Rowl­ing’s land.

This was our an­nual vacation abroad. Jay, my hus­band, is a member of the Young Pres­i­dents’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion and also the In­ter­na­tional Fo­rum group. Ev­ery sum­mer, the mem­bers’ fam­i­lies travel to­gether for a hol­i­day.

Ini­tially, when the group was new, we vis­ited each other’s coun­tries, but this year, it was Scot­land – so, ex­cit­ing for the kids!


lovely restau­rants. For veg­e­tar­i­ans like us, the menus were lim­ited, but the food was still won­der­ful.

In Ed­in­burgh, we stayed at the Cale­do­nian, a Wal­dorf As­to­ria prop­erty right in the heart of town. Ap­par­ently, in the old days, this used to be a rail­way ho­tel. The rail­way ended right there and pas­sen­gers who wanted to stop overnight would just book them­selves in. So the ho­tel has an in­ter­est­ing his­tory, just like Ed­in­burgh it­self.

Ed­in­burgh is some­times known as the Athens of the North. One of the most beau­ti­ful cities in Europe, it has two dis­tinct ar­eas, the old town and the new town. But the two, some­how, are seam­lessly con­nected. No won­der the city has been awarded UNESCO’s world her­itage site sta­tus.

Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle sits on a big vol­canic rock in the old town. On

The coun­try’s his­tory dates back to the Mid­dle Ages... And Ed­in­burgh is known as the Athens of the North!

Our trip to Scot­land was for five days, of which one was spent in Ed­in­burgh, where we vis­ited all the tourist haunts: the cas­tles, the mu­se­ums and the

our first day, as we rushed to the cas­tle, we went via a huge gar­den next to one of the main streets, which kind of cas­cades down­wards, al­most like a V-shaped space. There were lovely walk­ways and gar­dens for pic­nics and af­ter­noon lazes, but in the old days, ac­cord­ing to our guide, the space was a dark and eerie lake with all kinds of strange sto­ries at­tached.

The cas­tle it­self is a fortress with a palace within. We went through the lovely rooms where the king and queen lived, the rooms where gath­er­ings took place, the chapel, and the kitchens. Part of the cas­tle has been turned into a mu­seum, with life­like mod­els of the past: the kings, the queens, the work­ing peo­ple, sol­diers, chil­dren and sce­nar­ios from that era. It was beau­ti­fully done and I wish our mu­se­ums in In­dia were like that.

That evening, we went for a walk through the old town. Our guide was ac­tu­ally an ac­tor and, dressed in a black cape and a black hat, he took us past in­ter­est­ing sights and en­acted sto­ries from those eras, com­plete with dif­fer­ent voice tones and ac­cents. This turned the whole evening into a gi­gan­tic tale – a fas­ci­nat­ing way to learn some his­tory.


There was more his­tory the next day, when we vis­ited the Scone Palace, home of the fam­ily of the earl and count­ess of Mans­field for the past 400 years, and the place of Scot­tish coro­na­tions. The throne at Scone is really just a piece of stone, but a newly crowned king would al- ways walk down the aisle to­wards it in a cer­e­mony at­tended by roy­als and no­bles.

Later, we played high­land games in the palace grounds: tra­di­tional games played by vil­lagers, such as toss­ing the caber. The caber is a large 4-feet pole, which you have to pick up, spin around and toss, aim­ing to have it land on the ground in the 12 o’clock po­si­tion. Then we played weight over the bar, swing­ing a block of wood and throw­ing it over a bar placed 15 feet be­hind us, and later we tossed gum­boots into large tyres. Funny games, made fun­nier by the fact that we really couldn’t play them!


1. The Hog­warts Ex­press goes over the Glen­finnan Viaduct, which has 21 arches. How­ever, the train it­self is quite small and not half as glam­orous as it seemed in the movie 2. Juhi’s hus­band and daugh­ter, Jay and Jhanvi, had a field day in Ed­in­burgh 3. Shake­speare didn’t just cre­ate the Glamis Cas­tle out of thin air. The ac­tual cas­tle be­longs to the Strath­more Fam­ily. To­day, the general pub­lic can not only take a tour of the cas­tle, but also en­joy a meal at the cas­tle’s Vic­to­rian Kitchen Restau­rant 4. Ed­in­burgh is some­times known as the Athens of the North. It has two dis­tinct ar­eas, the old town and the new town We also went for a sa­fari – a drive in the moun­tains of Scot­land. On our way up, we stopped at a mil­i­tary-look­ing camp for a lunch of soup and sand­wiches, and then con­tin­ued to the point we’d been aim­ing for – a look­out point reached by a short walk through some woods. There was the most amaz­ing view of the lakes be­low – it was just beau­ti­ful! We were 2,000 feet above sea level, and down be­low was a lit­tle vil­lage sur­rounded by green trees. Gor­geous! But by the time we had our phones out to shoot pic­tures, it was all gone. Fog had rolled in and the scenery van­ished. That’s the Scot­tish cli­mate for you – the

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