Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Stopping by St. Andrews

When deciding to visit my friend Sarah in Scotland, Edinburgh wasn't the only destination I hoped to visit.  Thankfully I was able to get out for a couple of day excursions that were wonderful additions to the trip!  Given that my father is a huge golf fan, I couldn't rightly visit Scotland without paying the Old Course at St. Andrews a visit on his behalf.  What I didn't expect was that the town would be so lovely of a stop in and of itself!  I took a morning train from Edinburgh up to St. Andrews on my own, leaving Sarah to focus on a couple of writing assignments for school. The one-hour ride was comfortable and scenic, as I passed tiny towns and brilliant green hills, stone and brick buildings with pointed roofs and little chimneys sprouting out of the top that remind me of Mary Poppins.  I remember passing one church in particular, with a tall steeple with a black clock with gold hands and numbers on the face, the door to the church painted a brilliant pink, and a sprawling kirkyard sitting next to it with dozens of gravestones that were probably centuries-old.

Upon arriving in St. Andrews (which requires a short, easy bus ride from the train station), I was greeted with bright blue skies.  I wandered through the quaint town, taking in the university buildings where Will and Kate attended classes, until I stopped for some much-needed lunch.  The spot was called Northpoint Cafe, and it was packed with students, locals, and tourists alike.  I had an incredible turkey, brie, and cranberry sandwich on a warm baguette, then set out to visit the cathedral ruins and kirkyard.  The ruins were haunting - towers and bits of walls of dark stone with empty windows. The grass was a vibrant green, in sharp contrast to the cold, dead stone and the bodies buried beneath the earth.  The weather went downhill as I walked through the space, going from bright blue skies to ominously dark and windy with misty rain.  I cut my visit short, but not before noticing a gravestone on a side wall, surrounded by protective metal fencing, the stone belonging to none other than William Wallace.  Glad I stopped to look!

From the kirkyard, I made my way across town to the golf course, passing university buildings as the rain gradually let up.  I quickly spotted the famous Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole of the Old Course and walked out to get a photo.  A professional had just been taking photos for a footballer (no idea who or why), so he kindly obliged and snapped a photo of me on the bridge.  Next I paid a visit to the clubhouse for a few gifts, passing a handful of golfers braving the elements for their chance to play at the "home of golf". From the course, I wandered along the shore, meandering through the gorgeous campus, enjoying the once again blue sky (that wouldn't last long!).  I grabbed a cup of coffee to go on one of the main roads and headed back to catch the bus, arriving at the train station just minutes before the next train arrived.  A massive downpour began as soon as I sat down - I couldn't have timed my return any better!

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