I started off a little later than usual on my fifth day in the United Kingdom, leaving the hostel around 8:30 AM. Yet, the streets were still near empty. I spent much of my day walking through the park and the cemetery at the base of the castle; and until noon, did not see another pedestrian. This was not an adventurous day, it was a relaxing one. I took my time in the park, trying to draw quick sketches of the castle and watching a team of people work on the fountain. I strolled though the cemetery for hours, examining the headstones. I found myself paying close attention to familial lines and how dramatically the styles of headstones adapted.
I don’t know why I’m so drawn to cemeteries, but I’ve found that I’d much rather spend hours in a graveyard than a museum. In all my ridiculous knowledge of JK Rowling’s process for writing my favorite series, one of my favorite facts has always been that she found inspiration for names from headstones in Edinburgh. This might have been what initially drew me to this particular cemetery, but it’s not what made me stay. While thoughts of Harry Potter almost always dominate my life, they left me as I entered this somehow ethereal place. Like the University of Glasgow, this place was special. No wonder she had been so inspired. I just happened to stumble upon it on my way to find coffee, and I stayed until the caffeine withdrawal became so unbearable I could no longer walk through the paths comfortably.
I walked a bit until I found a Costa Coffee, a chain that I’ve grown to love through my European travels – discovering it first in Prague and then finding them all over. I sat in a back corner and sipped my bitter flat white while trying my best to journal my morning’s experience. Reading back through it now, I’m growing warm remembering the pure euphoria I felt. Here is an excerpt:
“I’ve fallen in love with every aspect of this place. I truly never want to leave. I am happier walking through the park and these streets than I am anywhere else.”
I also noted my excitement over the presence of free public restrooms. Everywhere else I had been required an admission fee for the restrooms. I felt similarly about the tap water. In Scotland, I had not been charged for tap water. For this, I was grateful. It’s very easy to get dehydrated while traveling and in many places water is more expensive than fountain drinks and beer.
Because I did not do much that translates well to an exciting blog, I’ll leave you with some photos, so you can see the beauty I experienced.