It’s September first. The Binge Mode: Harry Potter episode I listened to this week reminded me that the Hogwarts Express leaves from platform 9 3/4 today. In 2004, I saw the Hogwarts Express in person, but it was a complete accident. I didn’t think about Harry Potter when I was planning my trip to Scotland, or I might have reserved tickets. Fortunately, it’s better to be lucky than good. I got to see it anyway because we happened to be at the right place at the right time.

The Hogwarts Express (photo by Jen Read)

I caught sight of the red train from the car as we were driving down the road and was thrilled when I realized what I was looking at. The train was heading the same direction we were, so I got a good look at it. At one point, the tracks came close to the road and we traveled along at nearly the same rate. I could see the families riding in it through the big windows. While I was pleased to get to see the train, waving at the smiling kids who waved back made the experience that much more delightful. You could see how excited and happy they were to get to ride on the Hogwarts Express and I was happy for them.

Glenfinnan viaduct in Scotland (Can you see the train?)

We pulled ahead of the train and soon lost sight of it, but my Hogwarts Express moment wasn’t over. Up ahead was the Glenfinnan viaduct, an elevated horseshoe of track that Harry Potter fans will recognize from the movies. Nearby, there’s a parking lot where you can stop and watch the train come around the bend. We stopped there and were much farther away than we had been earlier, but the whole train was in view at once and I got to take pictures of it. I wish now that I’d had a better lens. But what matters was the moment, how great it made me feel to see something of Harry Potter’s world right in front of me, and my photos remind me of it.


I wish now that I had gotten to ride the train. While I like having a plan, I’m not that great about making them when it comes to vacations. I tend to take things as they come, which is fortunate because my husband is the king of spontaneity. While I could be organized enough to get tickets ahead of time, it’s okay that I didn’t. I’m just happy that I got to see it at all.

What about you? Have you ever seen something exciting on vacation totally by accident?

2 thoughts on “Catching the Hogwarts Express: A Lucky Accident”

    1. I was excited at the time and it was one of the highlights of the trip. I can’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed it as much if I had planned it all. Then I would have had expectations and they probably wouldn’t have been met. So there is an upside to just letting things happen.

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