January 28 - which reminds me that, WOW, time is absolutely flying by! It feels like last weekend! but, actually 3+ weeks have passed - I went to Stirling! You may have heard of it in reference to one of the following:
1. Stirling Castle - a free tour was included with the entrance fee; we also walked around to some places not on the tour. This was my first Scottish castle experience - how neat! The "castle" is more than just a building - it's really more like a village. Inside are residences, a church, giant halls, storage areas, dining facilities, you name it. I'm still getting used to just how OLD everything in Scotland is!
2. Battle of Stirling Bridge - we actually just rode by the real Stirling Bridge (no pictures, as I didn't have a decent view from the bus), but it's a pretty well-known piece of history.
3. William Wallace monument - this monument is actually outside Stirling proper. It can be seen from all over the city, though, because not only is it tall, but it's on top of a hill! We hiked all the way up this hill (very steep - lots of switchbacks) only to find that the tower part charged admission AND was only open for about 30 more minutes. Instead of going up, we took advantage of the views from the top of the hill.
These views were my favorite part of Stirling - like Edinburgh, the city is built on so many hills that it seems that wherever you turn, you're faced with a gorgeous vista. Whether we were at the castle, the monument, or just walking along, it was beautiful.
I went with a group of five other Furman girls. We left early in the morning and stayed until it got dark (about 4 or 5, haha). We saw all of the above things and just walked around a bit to get a feel for the city - it's much bigger than the location of my previous day trip, St. Andrews. There are quite a few similarities between the two, though: distance to Edinburgh, both have a university, small towns, etc.
We had a mediocre lunch at a cheap bar followed by delicious dessert next door. Another really enjoyable part for me was the actual train ride there and back - I stayed awake (unlike pretty much every other trip I take) and got to see some beautiful scenes of Scottish countryside.
(Had I actually fallen asleep, I might have been tricked into thinking our train had been re-routed to West Virginia!)
P. S. - This is how the sun was setting. That's Stirling Castle in the...erm...spotlight.