What a fun day! Amanda and I decided to take a trip out of Stirling, and find our way to St. Andrews! Neither of us really knew anything about it, but Rick Steves sure did! So off we went! We left our flats at 9:30, and walked down to Stirling Train Station, where we walked straight up to the ticket office, and told the guy working there that we had no idea what we were doing. He was nice enough, and helped us buy the right tickets. The last leg of the trip is done by bus though, so our tickets said we were going to Leuches, not St. Andrews. But the train doesn't end in Leuches, so none of the signs told us which train was going to be able to drop us off there. Sooo back into the ticket office, and apparently our train's final destination is Aberdeen. And we were off! But, our train was also not a direct journey, we had to switch trains. Which we discovered in Perth, thank god, or we would have gone all the way to Aberdeen! We had to get off at Dundee, and catch the Train to Leuches! Apparently people here have the rails memorized? We don't. So that was very confusing, but luckily we were able to make it to St. Andrews by asking just about every person who works at each train station what in the world we were supposed to be doing!
Upon arrival to Leuches, Amanda and I both realized that 1) The bus to St. Andrews does not take anything but cash 2) Neither of us had cash. Soooo we hired a taxi to drive us (only 10 miles thank god) to a cash machine in St. Andrews where we were able to solve our problem. Yay money! Then, out came Rick Steves from by bag, and we were off! As Amanda and I studied Rick, a girl stopped on the sidewalk and asked if we needed help. Amanda and I looked at each other, and before we could say anything, the girl explained "There are only three streets in St. Andrews, and you have your tour book out, so I was just guessing that you needed help". We had a little giggle about that, and she directed us to a street called The Scores, which was right on the water. It was so so beautiful! The trip to St. Andrews was worth it just for that view. The golf courses (unfortunately mini golf is closed until April, so I cannot say that I've golfed the course at St. Andrews yet...stay tuned!) are right next to the ocean, and I can see why it's a coveted location! We walked down and enjoyed looking at the cliffs, until Rick informed us that during the Reformation the water we were looking at was called "Witches Lake" because of all of the people who got pushed off the cliffs for being witches and warlocks. Our view slightly tainted, we continued to walk along the Scores until we got to a dorm which Rick informed us used to be Prince William's dorm while he was at St. Andrews! This excited both of us, and we decided to set aside our pride and idiotically take our pictures in front of the sign to his dorm. Granted, it was the good's entrance, not the best, but I covered the sign with my arm when Amanda took the picture. As I was explaining that I didn't want that sign in my picture, an older man walking by said "yeah you don't want that part of the sign in there, good idea". It was pretty funny.
Our next stop (This was one of Rick's self guided tours by the way) was St. Salvador's College, which is the heart of St. Andrew's University, since the whole campus is kind of spread out around town. We were very careful not to step on the initials PH in front though, because according to student legend, which we learned according to Rick Steves, when professor Patrick Hamilton was burnt at the stake during the Scottish Reformation, he threatened that any students who stood where he was being burnt would fail all of their exams. As Rick said, "And you thought you had hard-nosed teachers". Amanda joked that when we finished with school we could go step on it just for the hell of it, but then decided that would be a bad idea...we would probably end up deciding to go to grad school and fail out immediately. This part of campus, by the way, is located on a street named Butt's Wynd. That's right, I could not make that up if I tried. I got a picture of that for sure.
The next stop on our walk was St. Andrew's Castle, which is more ruin than castle now, because of the Scottish Reformation again. A recurring theme in St. Andrews it seems. We opted not to explore the ruins since it cost about 7 pounds, but we got lots of pictures from the street. Next was St. Andrew's Cathedral, which was again, mostly ruins. We explored it, and guessed at what different walls and stuff would have been. It was pretty hard to tell, but it was crazy to think that at one time, this cathedral one of Scotland's most magnificent churches.
After the ruins, Amanda and I found B. Jannettas, a highly celebrated ice cream shop! I got chocolate brownie,Amanda got Dutch chocolate, and we were both very pleased with our choices! As we continued down, happily eating our ice cream, we realized that we didn't know where we were, and that even Rick Steves couldn't get us back on track. So, we asked a nearby taxi driver. My first question, "Where is St. Mary's College?" He laughed, and pointed to a nearby building. We were not as lost as we thought apparently. My next question, "Where is St. Andrews Museum?" He said, "Which one?" Amanda and I looked at each other, and then I asked the question we were both most interested in, "Where is Fisher and Donaldson bakery?" He was very amused with us, directed us how to get there, and we could hear him chortling still as we made our way to the bakery. Once at the bakery, we discovered to our dismay that it wasn't really sweet stuff we could take home, more savory, and we decided that we wanted to eat lunch instead. So off to The Grill House, suggested by Rick. Where would we be without him? The wait there was a little bit long, but offered us the opportunity to run across the street and get Amanda a St. Andrews sweatshirt. Once seated, we both made like Americans and ordered hamburgers. Represent. It took FOREVER for us to get our food, but definitely worth the wait! Our burgers (and fries) were SO good! And we also decided to go crazy and have dessert. I had the chocolate fondant, and Amanda had the toffee pudding, both of which were wicked good. And we are not allowed to eat for a week now, but totally worth it!
After lunch, we were going to go back down and walk the beach before leaving, but we came across the bus stop on our way, and decided that since we were both a little bit uneasy about getting home, we would rather get a head start on that adventure. The trip home actually proved to not be an adventure, which was a good thing! We knew we had to get to the bus station, and buses are pretty self explanatory (we did ask the bus driver if the bus made it to Leuches train station though, just to be sure). When we got to the train station, we picked up a train route guide, only to find that it made absolutely no sense, so we asked the ticket man instead, who told us where to wait. So we did as we were told, and got on the train to Dundee. From Dundee, we asked again, and were directed to take the train heading to Glasgow. I hurried to go to the bathroom, and when I got back, Amanda hurried to go to the bathroom, but our train was five minutes early! I saw the train, freaked, and ran and got Amanda. Luckily, we made it! Amanda had heard the train from the bathroom and hadn't decided whether to go yet when I ran in to get her, so we were safe! On the train, we realized that Rick had outlined the major train routes in the back of his book, (handy!) so in the future, we might be a little bit less confused about where to go.
When we pulled into Stirling, got off the train, and were pretty convinced that we had made it home safely, Amanda and I made sure to give each other a high five for doing our first trip together! We were pretty pleased with ourselves for making it back in one piece! Although Amanda still needed to go to the bathroom, poor thing!
All in all, it was a really fun day, and I can't wait for more adventures! I'm definitely getting more comfortable with my surroundings, and settling in. Stirling is feeling more and more familiar, and I'm feeling less and less transplanted. I also found out how to watch American TV online. Muahahaha! Tomorrow is pilates, working out (in an attempt to rectify my horrible eating today) and then I'm going to just walk around Stirling to get a better feeling for the different shops and stuff. There are lots of alleys with little shops that I haven't looked into yet, and I think the more I explore, the more at home I'll feel! So that's all for tonight! Ciao!