Harry Potter Sites, Top of the World, & End of the World

At the top of the world

I know what you’re wondering… where the bloody hell has Ashley been??? I probably should have said something about my departure, but I didn’t. So there you go.

Over the last ~9 days I’ve been parading around Europe and the UK with my fam! First my parents came to Cambridge to visit me for about 3 days, then we went off to meet my sisters in Edinburgh for 3 days, then we all went to Portugal for 3 more days! We had a lot of fun in all three places, and averaged like 21,000 – 27,000 steps per day! Loooaaads of walking. But it was fun!


In Cambridge we mostly just walked around the town centre, checked out some of the colleges, and walked by the river almost every day. We also checked out the Fitzwilliam museum to check out the newly discovered sculptures by Michelangelo.

An old college building in Cambridge, UK

The front of King's College in Cambridge

A bridge over the river Cam

Edinburgh, Scotland

Next up: Scotland! I’ve always wanted to go here, so I was thrilled to finally have the chance. My younger sister is studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh this term, which is why we went here next.

A graveyard in Edinburgh

Party at Tom Riddle’s Grave!

There’s a graveyard in Edinburgh with Tom Riddle’s name on it! You know… the Harry Potter Tom Riddle. J.K. Rowling thinks she was inspired by this gravestone and that’s where she came up with Tom Riddle’s name.

Tom Riddle's grave in Edinburgh

The Elephant House: The birthplace of Harry Potter

We also stopped by The Elephant House which was just down the street from the graveyard. This café is where J.K. Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter. It was pretty cute with the whole elephant theme.

The Elephant House café in Edinburgh - the birthplace of Harry Potter

Elephant sculptures and decorations on a shelf in The Elephant House

The Castle of Edinburgh

Of course we visited the Castle of Edinburgh. It was pretty incredible. You’d just be walking around Edinburgh then look up and THERE’S THIS HUGE CLIFF RIGHT UP IN YOUR BUSINESS WITH A CASTLE ON TOP. It was massive.. and awesome.

The Castle of Edinburgh

A view of Edinburgh from the castle

Me standing inside a guard box

Arthur’s Seat

Then we climbed up Arthur’s Seat. This was probably my favourite part of the WHOLE trip. It was incredible. Arthur’s Seat is like this big hill or mountain (I have no idea at which point a hill becomes a mountain) and it was the highest point in Edinburgh. You get to the top and there’s an AMAZING panoramic view of the whole city. Pretty spectacular. And it felt really good to climb up there. Some parts literally felt like rock climbing.

A view of grass and rocks through an arch

My family climbing up Arthur's Seat

The view looking down from Arthur's Seat
The city of Edinburgh as seen from Arthur's Seat

Me spreading my arms on top of Arthur's Seat

The Farmer’s Market

That day we had lunch at a farmer’s market. We had some amaaaazing chicken paella. The market had a lot of other cool, homemade stuff for sale too. It was fun to walk around. I also had one of the best hot chocolates of my life there (and I bought a pack to take home!). They had these shots of pure hot chocolate… mmm, delicious.

A chef preparing a bowl of paella

A stand selling home made hot chocolate

Cheese on display
A sign that says "Happiness is homemade"
Homemade Italian style bread
Oils and fragrances

Lisbon, Portugal

The last stop was Lisbon, Portugal! This was a totally different scene, and about 15 degrees warmer. Lisbon is a pretty interesting city. They’re really big on graffiti and street art. Pretty much every single wall had some kind of graffiti or artwork on it. Then there are the famous tiled buildings.

Love sculpture in Lisbon

Me sitting on the edge of a wall, overlooking the city of Lisbon

Me standing in front of a piece of wall art

Potted plant hanging on a gate
A grungy, rusting wall with spray paint

Yonest yogurt stand

Oh, and there’s a bridge that looks exactly like the Golden Gate bridge in SFO. It was almost like being back home!

25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon
25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon


The first day we stopped for lunch at a place called LxFactory. This was like a big area with a ton of different restaurants and shops in it.

Books on the wall and bananas

Funny signs on the wall

A building full of paint and artwork

Handmade bracelets

Landeau Chocolate

And the highlight? We went into a shop called Landeau Chocolate. They sold AMAZING chocolate. As soon as we walked in the shop, there was an INCREDIBLE smell of chocolate. Just an aroma of goodness. We all got a hot chocolate, but sadly nobody in my family got the chocolate cake (which looked delicious).

If nothing else works, try chocolate

A steaming glass of pure, liquid chocolate
A glass of milk hot chocolate

Castelo Dos Mouros (Sintra)

Then we took a half day trip to Sintra, which was just a ~30 minute drive away. We visited the Castelo Dos Mouros, which almost rivalled Arthur’s Seat. It was a castle up on a hill that had some spectacular views. Some bits of the climb up were actually quite frightening, because you were SO high up and there were only teeny tiny railings that you could easily fall over lol.

Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra, Lisbon

A photo of me waving on top of the castle

Pena National Palace (Sintra)

Then we stopped by the Pena National Palace, which was just a ways above the castle. It almost felt like a fun house because of all the bright colours and winding balconies/corridors.

Pena National Palace
Pena National Palace
A portrait of Ashley
Ashley standing on a balcony outside the palace

The end of the world Europe

On the way back to Lisbon, we stopped by the coast. This is the most western point in all of Europe! There wasn’t much to photograph since it was literally just a cliff overlooking the ocean, but it was cool to be there. (Even if it was cold and windy as hell!)

Standing at the western most point of Europe

The oldest operating bookshop

One of the last things we did was visit the oldest operating bookshop. Honestly, I was hoping the inside would look a little more… special. The actual interior of the bookshop wasn’t anything super cool or exciting. You wouldn’t look at it and think it was the oldest bookshop. I guess it was still cool to have been there though, you know?

The Guinness World Record for the oldest operating bookshop, located in Lisbon

A photo inside the oldest operating bookshop

Home sweet home!

Going on a trip can be fun, but I’m always so ready to come home. I missed blogging, I missed work, and I missed my husband! Sadly, Coding God couldn’t come on the trip since he had to work… boo! So as much fun as the trip was, it’s nice to be home and back to my regular routine. 🙂

Photo of Ashley
I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. What gorgeous photos! I’ve been to Edinburgh (and to Arthur’s Seat) and it was nice seeing your pics and remembering how nice it was to be there.
    I really want to go to Lisbon some day soon!

    1. That’s fantastic, Kaja! I loved Arthur’s Seat so much. And everyone in Edinburgh was SO NICE! I’m addicted to Scottish accents.

  2. I wondered where you’d run off to, Ashley! It looks like you had an amazing trip, but sometimes the best part is coming home lol. The pictures are all fantastic! I would love to go to Scotland someday 🙂

    1. Yeah I didn’t realize until after I’d left that I didn’t say ANYTHING about my departure on my blog. Oops!!

      And I totally agree—sometimes the best part is coming home. 🙂 It was a great trip, but I’m happy to be back home with my hubby and daily routine!

  3. Looks like you had a wonderful trip! I’ve been to Europe myself a few times, but never the UK. I’m going to England later this year though- my first trip to another English-speaking country!

    1. Thank you so much Melissa!! 🙂 I definitely love married life. 😉

      Ireland and Scotland would be a fantastic trip!! I’d personally LOVE to visit the Scottish highlands (think Outlander if you watch that show). My sister is going there in a few weeks and I’m super jealous.

  4. What an amazing trip, Ashley!! I’m so glad you had so much fun. Your travel photos are so so gorgeous, especially the ones from Edinburgh! I hope I get to visit one day! Btw, you look fabulous in the pics! 😉

  5. Edinburgh! Your photos are so stunning Ashley. Edinburgh’s my home away from home, so those photos made me tear a little!!! Arthur’s Seat was always my favourite place to go whenever I was feeling stressed out. You really do feel like you’re on top of the world! And the graveyard where JK got Tom’s name from has Sirius’ name too! I highly recommend anyone go to Edinburgh. It’s such a beautiful city!

    1. I ADORED Edinburgh! I almost wish I lived there so I could climb up Arthur’s Seat every day.

      I can’t believe I missed Sirius’s name! I guess I’ll have to go back. 😉

    1. Scotland was amazing!! I’d love to go back and visit the highlands.

      Ohh photography classes would be awesome! I’ve never taken any before, but I think that would be really fun. I’ve just kind of figured things out on my own but it would be cool to have some official guidance in that area, you know?

  6. I think I remember Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano but don’t quote me on that lol. I lived in Cambridge for several years and it was lovely to see some of my fave places. I haven’t yet been to Lisbon but it’s on my list
    Jo xxxx

    1. Yeah I heard that too! Actually I think I heard that the castle was on an ancient volcano.

      I adore Cambridge too. 🙂

  7. What gorgeous pictures. I’m jealous. 🙂 I’ve never been out of the US but I’m even more inspired to visit Europe now!

    1. You’d love it! There are so many different places in Europe, but they’re all so close together.

  8. I think the best part of living anywhere in Europe is that you’re part of Europe and you can just travel anywhere that you want, on a train ride, and you are literally in a whole new world. And the entire Europe is so pretty. ;_____; I want to go so badly!

    On the other hand, you looked like you had so much fun! I don’t think I could ever do more than 10,000 steps though. #weakling

    1. Exactly! Our longest plane ride was only just over two hours. Piece of cake. And it’s not too expensive to travel back and forth (at least, you can do it super budget if that’s what you want).

      One of our days was like 27k or 29k steps. IT WAS CRAZY! My feet hurt after that X_X

      I felt really good after though. And now that I home I feel super rejuvenated and just ready to go to the gym. I’m like, “Gym? No problem. I can handle 29k steps, bitch.” The day after I got back I was just TOTALLY FEELING IT and spent an hour at the gym, which is double what I usually do.

  9. Wow – absolutely beautiful! Makes me want to travel so badly. I’m actually from Cambridge (don’t live there now, unfortunately) and I love those gorgeous pictures you’ve taken from there. One day I’ve definitely going to have to visit my hometown – and of course, the birthplace of Harry Potter! Looks like so much fun x

    1. I love Cambridge so much! I’m the opposite of you. I’m not originally from Cambridge, but I’m living there now. It’s such a beautiful place. 🙂

  10. It looks like you had a wonderful time. I went to Edinburgh between Christmas and New Year and loved it, I’m definitely missing it now after seeing your beautiful photos. I didn’t have chance to seek out The Elephant House, I guess I’ll have to go back then! How awful….

  11. All of your pictures look so amazing! Even (especially?) the ones of hot chocolate haha. 🙂 I’m bookmarking this post so that when I finally make it over to that continent I’ll have some ideas of things to see.

  12. Thanks a lot, Ashley. You’ve just turned me green with envy. No, seriously, I’m really happy that you had such a great time, and wow, those pictures look absolutely stunning! I’m especially jealous of you going to Scotland – I’ve been wanting to go there for so long!

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