Saint Andrews

Trip Start Jan 06, 2009
Trip End Jun 01, 2009

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Emily and I decided to take a day trip to Saint Andews as a much well-deserved study break, as well as to catch up since we hadn't seen each other since the Spring Holidays. Our luck with the weather held out as the sun came out...even though it was not particularly was still nice for the sky to be blue and the clouds to be white and fluffy instead of a grey mist over everything. Don't get me wrong...the dreichness of Scottish weather gives a certain character to the landscape and the people...but it is nice to see the sun every once in a while ;)

St. Andrews is only a 40 minute train ride and then a 10 minute bus ride away from Edinburgh, which made it perfect for a day trip. Once we arrived, it was completely obvious that we were in a college town...not in an Oxford or Cambridge sort of way because Saint Andrews is smaller and less pretentious, but it had such a collegial atmosphere to it. Maybe it was the beautiful University buildings everywhere or the quaint streets lined with shops and pubs obviously catering to the student sect, but not always overtly, still recognizing the local families who populated St. Andrews. It was still a nice-sized rural town, but with the students present, there is a guarnteed nightlife and overall entertainment sector.

Both Emily and I really enjoyed walking around, taking in the quaint little shops, and street vendors that were out on a Saturday morning, as well as simply walking around the University which interweaves with town as both grew up together. The first touristy thing we did was to go the Museum of the University of Saint Andrews, which chronicles the history of the University, which is the oldest existing one in Scotland and the third oldest in the UK after Cambridge and Oxford.

The next place we visited was the St. Andrews Castle. It is  in ruins but it was definitely worth the visit. St. Andrews is a seaside town and the Castle is positioned on a hill that overlooks the sea. The view was splendid. I have to say I felt like I was in Cair Paravel in the book "Prince Caspian." There were families with young kids who were running around playing, climbing on the rocks of the ruined castle, and pretending to be knights and ladies...I wish I could have pretended to be a knight or a lady in a real castle when I was a kid...I just had to make do with my Lego substitute...oh well...I turned out okay I guess :) But probably the coolest thing about the castle was that one could go underground. When the castle was being overtaken there was this epic battle underground as the Cardinal who lived in the Castle was trying to burrow his way out during a siege...while the enemy tried to burrow their way in...and there was an epic clash where they met in the middle. And we got to follow the path! It was slipperly and uneven and dimly lit...and I felt like I had just went from Prince Caspian to the Silver Chair in the Narnia tales.. and it was so fantastic! I haven't had this much fairytale fun in a long time...probably since I was 11...

After the castle we went to St. Andrews Cathedral. Besides being a hub for students, St. Andrews was also the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland before the Reformation (which would explain why there is a cardinal living in a castle). The Cathedral was of course ransacked and fell into disrepair during the reign of King Henry VIII, and is now currently a ruin, with gravestones littering the grounds of what used to be the nave and the altar. We walked up St. Rule's Tower and got a lovely view of the city.

Our next stop was to of course visit the Saint Andrews Links aka the birthplace of golf...which also had a view of the beach as well. I got a little over-excited about the guys in knickers and hats playing golf. Emily thought I was quite amusing.

Overall it was a good visit, a good day, and a good study break.

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