A villain, a saint, and a whole lot of snow.

Yesterday, Michele and I got coffee at The Elephant House, the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few chapters of Harry Potter. I had a cappuccino and had no trouble seeing where she got her inspiration. Afterwards, we walked through the Graveyard behind the cafe and found the grave of Thomas Riddle…aka, Voldemort. This place is literally a Harry Potter fan’s dreamland. (FYI: it’s also quite normal to take a stroll around the graveyard in Edinburgh).

Sunset view from Elephant House (at 4:30 pm...lol.)

Sunset view from Elephant House (at 4:30 pm…lol.)

After circling the graveyard twice, Michele and I found it: Voldemort's grave. Or, rather, the grave of the man who's name became Voldemort's name!

After circling the graveyard twice, Michele and I found it: Voldemort’s grave. Or, rather, the grave of the man whose name became Voldemort’s name!

Our bus headed out at a cruel 9 am this morning for the hour trip through the snowy, sheep-filled hills towards St. Andrews. The weather was especially cold after it snowed nearly four inches last night, making St. Andrews looks beautiful but feel like the tundra. I took the spiral (and very claustrophobic) staircase up to the top of the ancient St. Rules Tower in the (also ruined) St. Andrews Cathedral. Only fifteen people are allowed in at once for fear that the Cathedral will collapse. The Tower was built in the 11th century, and although it was a creepy journey to the top, the view was totally worth it.

**Click on the pictures to make them bigger!

Panoramic view of St. Andrews from the top of the tower.

Panoramic view of St. Andrews from the top of the tower.


View of the sea from the top of St. Rule’s Tower.

The town is so small that I was constantly running into the other international students on the trip. I quickly found friends and we toured the ruins of St. Andrews Castle. When I say ruins, I really mean ruins…there’s just a pile of rocks. Still awesome, though.


St. Andrew's Castle

A part of St. Andrew’s Castle. This section was supposedly where most of the prisoners were kept. The poor prisoners were kept at the bottom of a 16 ft deep chamber cut into the rock that we could look down into. Creeeeeepy.

We found a nice bakery, got some pastries, and went exploring. St. Andrews is filled with lots of older people and I didn’t see any students while we were there. Then again, it was also around 12 on a Saturday morning. It reminded me of doing college tours on weekends and visiting a dead campus.

I also experience my first day of real Scotland weather. The weather acted on a rotating pattern of slight sun, then heavy snow, then sleet, then light rain, then slight sun again. It made traveling around an adventure, and by the end of the afternoon, I was ready to board the bus. Although it was a beautiful place, I’m glad I’m in the bustling city of Edinburgh with a lot more cafes and pubs.

One of my favorite parts of the day was walking down to the beach and collecting seashells and sea glass. There’s sea glass everywhere, and not just bits of beer bottles masquerading as sea glass. I remember how the Nelson’s have their huge jar of sea glass on the porch (is it still there?), and I think I’m going to start my collection because apparently Scotland’s beaches are full of it. (Not sure how impressed Mom & Dad will be when my suitcase is weighted down with seashells).

The coast of St. Andrew's

The coast of St. Andrew’s

More pictures from the day:

Delirious from the cold

Delirious from the cold

Greyfriar's Graveyard in Edinburgh

Greyfriar’s Graveyard in Edinburgh


The town