When Tiffany and I first arrived at St. Andrews, we were shocked that people would refer to it as a small university. To us, St. Andrews seemed simply enormous! Students abound by the thousands, the campus is large enough to require a map, and the town has shops, pubs, and dozens of restaurants. This town appeared to be a booming metropolis in comparison to our small town of Due West!
Fairly quickly we realized what they meant. The town of St. Andrews only has three major streets: North, Market, and South. Within an hour of walking around town we had the town layout memorized fairly accurately. Within a week we basically knew where the major landmarks were (with the term ‘major landmarks’ obviously referring to the Italian restaurants, the shoe stores, and the bridal gown shop.)
So it should not come as a major shock to you that after three weeks of staying in those three main streets, Tiffany and I wanted to travel. (If this is a shock to you: perhaps you should sit down and soak your feet to recover from the shocking news.) We got together with two other girls from Erskine (Caroline and Katherine) and decided to take a day trip to the closest city: Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and the second most popular city for tourists to visit in the UK. The city has many features that draw people to it by the hundreds of thousands: it is very old, it has lots of old structures which are wonderful for photography, lots of people live there, and it has a castle! The Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous castles in all of Scotland and also one of the most photographed. It has been around for almost 1000 years and has also been involved in several wars. As far as I can tell, anybody who is alive ought to enjoy a trip to the Edinburgh Castle.
Let me tell you, though, planning a trip to Edinburgh is not so easy a caveman could do it (and thus could not feature on the popular Gieco caveman commercial series.) This mainly stems from the fact that gas here costs about $10.50 per gallon, on average (at this point maybe you really should put your feet up from the shock!) Because of this, people do not often drive anywhere. Most students here at St. Andrews do not have cars with them, and everyone either walks or rides the bus.
Which makes the bus routes very complicated. If you walk down the streets of Edinburgh you will see almost no cars, the streets full of buses, and the sidewalks crowded with walking people. There appear to be thousands of buses in Edinburgh, run by competing companies on different routes and turning every which way around the city.
To help you figure out which bus you need to ride the various companies will publish large timetables with long lists of numbers and symbols to let you know which but goes where at what time. Sort of like a mega excel sheet in brochure form, with each company publishing a different brochure for each new bus route. You walk into the bus station and there are almost a hundred different brochures and before you is a display of almost a hundred different little brochures. At this point you feel like you want to ditch the entire thing and go take a nap, but then you remember that you really do want to see the castle so you decide to plough through and hope you are successful.
In the end the four of us were successful. We found a bus to Edinburgh and got a map of the city. We saw the Edinburgh castle, climbed Arthur’s Seat and Caltoun Hill, and walked the Royal Mile. We finished with a nice dinner and a little shopping in one of the Scotland Shops, and then headed to the bus station for our two hour bus ride to St. Andrews. We pulled into the bus station at 10:30 pm at night, the end of a 14 hour day of travel.
I am fairly confident that I was in bed by 10:35.
(NEXT WEEK ON HOLLY’s BLOG: Even more details on the Edinburgh Castle! Which famous Scottish king’s birthplace did the girls get to see?? And…. Up close and extended photo commentary!)