Living in a Castle.

My summer trip abroad at Harlaxton College in England.

A Draculatastic, Potterific Time around Whitby.

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‘Ello, loves! This past Thursday and Friday was our first overnight class trip; we spent the first day exploring Whitby, stayed the night at an adorable hotel the next town over, and had a pleasant hike the following morning.

Here is just a brief description of Whitby, from the character Mina’s narrative in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, our text for the week.

“This is a lovely place. The little river, the Esk, runs through a deep valley, which broadens out as it comes near the harbour. A great viaduct runs across, with high piers, through which the view seems somehow further away than it really is. The valley is beautifully green, and it is so steep that when you are on the high land on either side you look right across it,unless you are near enough to see down. The houses of the old town the side away from us are all red- roofed, and seem piled up one over the other…”

That account still remained entirely true. After 199 (although I counted 197) steps up, the view of Whitby was absolutely beautiful, despite the rainy weather.


A view of Whitby as several of my classmates follow behind up the steps.

ImageWe first took a self-guided tour through the historic ruins of the Whitby Abbey. The Gothic structure was already partially ruined at the time of Stoker’s writing but became even more destroyed in a WWI attack. The parts of the Abbey that remain are still beautifully striking, making it easy to see how Stoker was so inspired to write the creepy tale of Dracula.

ImageAfter the tour, we were set free to explore the town for a while. A few of us headed off together to venture the narrow streets and peruse a few stores. Eventually we met up with another group and found ourselves at the beach before the North Sea.

Last week it became a known fact that I have actually never been to the ocean before (minus a brief stop at the Gulf of Mexico in Texas when I was about three years old…doesn’t count!), so there was big hullabaloo as I took my shoes off, rolled up my jeans, and had my first steps in the 11°C (51.8°F) ocean water.


The historical moment when my feet first touched the North Sea water.

It was quite chilly on my toes, but I loved every moment of it. We ended up having a spontaneous jumping picture photoshoot, and many turned out wonderfully. Here’s one of my favorites:

ImageI should note that my feet feat (hah) was nothing in comparison to the brave souls that took the (literal) plunge and submerged themselves completely in the water. Bravo to them!

After all that excitement, a few of us decided we deserved a little treat to celebrate. Coffee sounded like a wonderful way to warm up, but there were so many ice cream stands around that tempted us as well. Then we had the brilliant idea: both. I was therefore double-fisting through the streets of Whitby–a coffee in my left hand, a cookies and cream ice cream cone in my right hand, and a smile on my face. It had to be the best combination of taste my mouth has ever experienced.

Side note: Danielle and I have been attempting to rank all of our ice cream endeavors throughout this trip, and here’s my outlook so far: York had the best cone–it was a waffle cone and not one of these dinky little stale things we’ve had otherwise. London was amazing because it free of charge as well as delicious. But Whitby, in my opinion, is the winner as far as the ice cream itself goes; the cookies and cream wasn’t Oreos like I’m accustomed to but rather a gooey, chocolate chip cookie smushed throughout the vanilla. SO GOOD.

This awesome experience resulted in me being a bit wired as we entered our hotel in the next town over, Goathland. That state may explain why I was so zealous about how amazing the hotel was and why I felt compelled to take pictures of every little thing Danielle’s and my quaint room contained.




A bathtub!!


A sink!!!

I managed to settle down after a while to relax in the backyard of the hotel to enjoy nice conversation and the beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.


It was time for dinner, so we wandered around Goathland in search of a pub, when we stumbled across the Ford Anglia used as the flying car in Harry Potter 2! How cool.

ImageAbout half of the class ended up going back to the hotel’s pub for dinner, where I split a steak burger and chips with Danielle and drank a Becks, and we hung out there for the remainder of the night.

The sun rose Friday morning, bringing about a new season as well as a new experience for me…black pudding. There was an excellent breakfast at the hotel that included not only a cold bar with multitudes of fruit and spreads for toast but a Full Yorkshire Breakfast as well. What does this entail? Sausage, bacon, egg, potatoes, beans, mushrooms, tomato, and, of course, black pudding. For those of you fortunate enough to not know what this is, look it up…if you can stomach it. I tried my one bite to say be able to say I have tried it, and that was quite enough.


A bit apprehensive about some of the plate’s contents.

After checking out of the hotel, we took to the moors for another walk. It was at this point that my camera battery became exhausted, which was completely my fault; I knew it was getting low, but I had been too lazy to charge it before the trip. So now you are stuck with my vivid descriptions.

We got a nice expansive view of the area under some misty, hazy cloud coverage. At one point we accidentally stumbled into a group of snakes, which Dr. Hanlon was brave enough to approach and take a picture of despite their hissing.


Turns out they were addlers, a deadly species. Luckily nobody was harmed!

After the moors we descended a dangerous, slippery slope down to a stream and followed the rocky trail to a waterfall. We spent some time around there before trekking back up the steep climb for lunch.

A group of us ate at a little tea shop. I wasn’t too entirely hungry so I ordered a cheese sandwich, assuming it would probably be a grilled cheese. Nope, I was wrong. It was literally a sandwich of wheat bread and a heaping of grated cheese. Probably my most disappointing meal so far…but I made up for it with more ice cream! This one is the winner of my most unique flavor, toffee apple. Yum yum.

Finally, we ended our trip by heading to the train station from Harry Potter and boarding the North Yorkshire Express steam engine. After some confusion and intense back-and-forth walking action, we were able to sit in the compartments in the back, just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione! I had never been on a train until this trip, so the Hogwarts Express has always been my mental image of a train; it was pretty cool to actually take a fifteen minute ride aboard it.

Once we got off the train, we immediately got on our charter bus and headed back to our little castle. It is hard to believe that three weeks have already passed, but I feel like our time allotted here is perfect. I have had some incredible experiences so far, and I am looking forward to returning home and sharing them with my family and friends after only two more excitement-packed weeks.


Author: Helen Plevka

Lover of books, warm beverages, nieces, and cats. Graduate student in Comparative Literature at Indiana University. Clarinetist. Former English teacher and study abroader.

One thought on “A Draculatastic, Potterific Time around Whitby.

  1. YES. Glorious jump photo over the North Sea! To Facebook we go ..

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