Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break: Bath!

Amanda and I are in Bath right now on spring break! We are dividing five days between Bath and the Cotswolds.

We got into Bath very late on Thursday night, so yesterday was our first official day here. Rick Steves has been our very good friend, so I used him to help us put together an itinerary so we wouldn't miss anything!

The first thing we wanted to see was the Roman Baths, especially because we knew they would get busy later in the day. So, we were there at opening and were able to have the area almost completely to ourselves! It was pretty awesome. The baths were really cool, especially when you thought about how old they were, and how impressive they would have been so many years ago. The water in the pools is all pumped up through the earth by itself--the Romans nor anyone else has actually had to help the water come up, which is pretty crazy! And it's hot! The enclosed rooms with the water running through were really steamy!

After the baths, we went briefly into the pump room to fulfil one of my Jane Austen needs, and then we met our tour guide for a free walk! These people lead two tours a day, each walk lasting two hours, and they do it just because they love the city of Bath! It's awesome, because they must enjoy doing it, and it's great for us because it's free! Our tour guide led us through town, telling us all about how things worked starting in the Georgian era, and we eventually wound our way up to the Royal Crescent! I'm really excited about this row of houses, because again, Jane Austen refers to it in two of her novels, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Also, in most of the films they show the women getting out of carriages here :)

We left the guided tour here, and went up to tour the Georgian House, which is still set up like it would have been all those years ago. It was so gorgeous, and all of the people in the museum told us about what life would have been like back then. It felt like I was walking through a house in one of Jane's books. I was telling Amanda that lately history has been coming alive for me, but in Bath, it's literature that comes alive. Now when I read Jane's books again, I will be able to envision her world so much better, and that's really exciting! 

After the Georgian House, we went to the Fashion Museum, which Amanda found very exciting. I liked looking at all of the old clothes. They have a dress from the middle of the 1600s, and it is absolutely stunning. They used golden thread, and the entire dress still shines. It's so crazy that it has lasted all these hundreds of years! We also saw a collection of gloves, and learned that back then, gloves had really long fingers as a status symbol, because since the long fingers prevented you from doing anything useful with your hands, it meant you didn't need to use your hands and must be very important. Things like that make me wonder. When people walk through museums hundreds of years from now, what are they going to think is amusing about our clothing? Probably jeggings. 

Having seen most of the upper part of Bath, we wound our way back down to the central part of town. Here, we popped into the Abbey, but decided that instead of paying to get in, we would just go to church there on Sunday instead! 

If you look at the front of the church, you can see ladders on either side, and angels crawling up and down. This, we were told, is meant to symbolise angels traveling between heaven and us. 

Next to the abbey is a chocolate shop, where Amanda and I stopped to get a chilli truffle for me, and a lemon truffle for her. We tried to eat them as slowly as possible as we made our way to the Pulteney Bridge. This bridge was meant to be a sister to the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, which I can't comment on since I haven't seen it (yet!). 

Later in the evening, we went to see The Taming of the Shrew, in the Theatre Royal! It was a pretty cool experience to go see the play, again, because so many of Jane's characters do too! The actual play was a wee bit confusing, even though I knew the general premise. I think I should probably read it when I get back so I can understand better what I saw. 

This morning after breakfast, I took a walk along the canal, and Amanda went to an event that was part of Fashion Week here in Bath, which she is very excited about! I'm waiting for her to be finished, and then we're going to get some pasties! Yum! She's never tried one, and my last pasty was with the family when we visited Anna in Wales about five years ago! So exciting!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hike Up Arthur's Seat

I don't have class on Wednesdays, and since I finished my essay a few days early (Yes, for those of you reading from home, I'm still doing my schoolwork!) I had to decide what to do with my day. Stay in Stirling and do laundry, or climb Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Hmm...

So a few hours later I was getting off the train in Edinburgh! The weather here has been beautiful, and as I neared the exit at Waverly Station, I was completely inundated by the warmth of the sunlight flooding in. I've been told by many people that these few days of bliss may be the entire summer season here, so I'm taking advantage of it!

I don't think words could very accurately convey my day, so I think instead I'll give you a photo tour of my hike up Arthur's Seat:

There are a lot of different trails in the area, but the one I had my eye on takes you to the top of that cliff you can see to the right...

As I was walking up, I was deliberating, as most do during a hike, where and when to stop for lunch! When I turned a corner and saw this lake in front of me, I knew that was the spot! 

I knew it would be a steep climb, but 45 minutes of really steep and rocky walking is a lot harder than it sounds! I don't know if this picture shows it very well, but it was a good workout! 

About two thirds of the way up, you come onto this grassy clearing, and can see the top of Arthur's Seat. So close, yet so far! Actually, getting to the top wasn't too hard, because I knew I was so close that I got an extra burst of energy. What was difficult was coming down. I'm not sure if you can see it in the picture, but it's just rock, nothing else, so climbing down was really hard. And I may or may not have fallen once by accident. Shhh...

View from the top! Here you can see better how rocky it is.

After my walk, I came down here to eat my sandwich. Sitting here, looking out at the lake and the swans, I kept thinking about how amazingly lucky I was to be sitting there.

I checked the train times on my way back to the station, and since I had 20 minutes before the next train left I got a coffee and sat on a bench to enjoy the sun. I ended up sitting on the bench for over an hour! I let two trains to Stirling come and go, and enjoyed the sun and the view of Edinburgh. The elderly couple in the first picture were there when I got there, and there when I left. They just sat there, holding hands. I don't think they talked once, but their contentment at just enjoying the moment was contagious!  (Also, if you look, to the right of the tree you can see Edinburgh Castle!)

Another view from my bench:

It was such a beautiful day, and I'm so glad that I was able to get out and enjoy it! I also realized on my walk back down from Arthur's Seat that I had gone alone. That doesn't really seem like an earth-shattering realization, but in the past I've been very wary of doing stuff by myself, and today I didn't even realize that I had gone by myself until I was almost done with the hike. I've heard that studying abroad helps you grow and mature, and I'm really pleased that I've become completely comfortable doing stuff alone. It's the small stuff that matters in the end I guess :)

Tomorrow Amanda and I leave for spring break in Bath and the Cotswolds (The region that inspired J.R. Tolkien when he wrote about the Shire)! I'm pretty sure we'll have internet access so I can update my blog, but if not I'll go back to the iron age and keep a diary, and post everything when I get back to Stirling.

Until next time!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Morning Walk

I woke up to the strangest sight. I looked around me and tried to figure out what was wrong. My room looked the same as it had when I went to sleep. I hadn't forgotten to turn in an assignment. Then, with amazement and joy, I realized what had changed! The SUN was shining!!!

I bought a book of walks around Stirling a few days ago, so after eating a quick breakfast,  my flatmate Glenna and I took off to discover a little bit more of our town. We took the walk to discover the old Stirling harbor and Cambuskenneth Abbey, both of which are pretty close to the city center, but neither of had even known they existed.

The walk took us along the bank of the River Forth, which is lined with willow trees and daffodils. The old harbor, we learned from my book, is where people would have arrived in Stirling from Edinburgh. We also learned that the water in the River Forth flows upstream, because the river is tidal all the way up to Stirling!

The abbey was just a short ways past the harbor, and was a surprisingly peaceful spot. According again to my book, the Abbey was an important one during the reign of King Robert the Bruce, and he confirmed the succession of his son there. Today only the bell tower is still standing, the rest of it having been destroyed or crumbled away decades ago. Unfortunately entry to what is left of the abbey begins in April, but Glenna and I decided that we would just have to come back!

On our walk back to the flat, which followed the River Forth, we talked about taking a walk on Mondays and finding a place to have a picnic lunch, because neither of us have class until 2 PM. Weather permitting of course.

It is such a beautiful day, and I'm hopeful that there are many more to come!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Day In The Scottish Borders

I am so happy to be laying in my bed right now! It has been a fantastic, but long, day!

Arcadia, the study abroad program I went through, offers a few different trips throughout the semester, and today was a trip to the Scottish Borders region. We started at the crack of dawn so we could catch the 7:15 train to Edinburgh. Then we made our way (with a necessary diversion to Starbucks) to the bus.

Our first stop was Rosslyn Chapel. Featured in Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code", this small but impressive chapel is full of ornate carvings (including two beautiful pillars), beautiful stained glass windows, and a really cool nature theme throughout. The history of the chapel is also really interesting. One piece of the chapel's story is as follows: The master stone mason carved one of the pillars in the front of the church, and then left for Rome in order to gain inspiration for the second pillar. While he was gone, his apprentice had a vision from God for the second pillar, and was given permission to carve it. When the master returned, he discovered to his horror that the pillar had been already carved, and was significantly more beautiful and magnificent than the one he himself had carved. What was more, it had been carved by none other than his own pupil. Enraged, the master confronted his pupil in the church, and in a fit of rage hit his apprentice over the head with his hammer, killing him. The master was put to death for his crime, but the stone masons still felt that justice could be served. Therefore, they carved the master's face into a section of the wall exactly opposite the apprentice's pillar so that he would have to stare at it for eternity. Cheery, right? But it is a beautiful pillar :)

The next stop was Melrose Abbey, the rumored resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart. Even though it is mostly all ruins now, you can still clearly see how it would have been a really impressive abbey in its time. Today's weather could not have been better - there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was pretty warm, at least for Scotland standards. So, we decided to have a picnic lunch in the shadow of this awesome abbey. While I was eating my lunch I would get caught up in conversation, and then look up and remember with amazement where I was. It was a very cool experience.

After lunch, our bus wound its way to Smailholm Tower, which is very near where Sir Walter Scott grew up. The tower, in fact, is referenced in one of Scott's works. The following is a excerpt from "Marmion, Canto III, Introduction".

It was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliffs were rudely piled;
But ever and anon between
Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green;
And well the lonely infant knew
Recesses where the wallflower grew,
And honeysuckle loved to crawl
Up the low crag and ruined wall.
I deemed such nooks the sweetest shade
The sun in all its round surveyed;
And still I thought that shattered tower
The mightiest work of human power;

Our next stop was Dryburgh Abbey. Unfortunately by this point, most of us had been up and moving for over ten hours and were pretty exhausted, so pieces of the abbey may have been lost on us. However, we were all woken up by Scott's View, named because it was Sir Walter Scott's favorite spot in all of Scotland. Unfortunately, my camera decided to die right when we got here, so I couldn't get a picture of it for myself. Here is a picture though, taken by someone else so you can get the full effect:

This was the last stop on our trip, so we made the trip back to Stirling, and back to me happy to be laying in my bed after a long, beautiful, and fun day outside! Goodnight!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My First Pro Rugby Game...And I Still Don't Get How The Game Works!

Silly Honors student...I should have known better. Always thoroughly research something before you take part. That's what I was kicking myself about when I went to my first professional rugby game yesterday and had absolutely no idea what I was watching! The guys behind us helped me out a little bit by explaining the scoring, but I think when I asked if there were "downs" like American football they kind of gave up on me. Regardless, it was fun to be there and try to figure it out as we went! It got really chilly by the end of the game, and we couldn't feel out toes, but I thought about how freakishly cold Pullman football games can be and stopped complaining :)

All in all, I'm really glad I went and can say that I experienced true Scottish rugby!

Today I'm going on the Arcadia Scottish borders trip and I'm really excited! So until then!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Awesome Family!

Yesterday was an awesome day, for kind of silly reasons! First, I got an email from my Aunt Janece where she confirmed our trip to Italy!! I am SO excited to be able to spend this time with her, see all of the awesome sights in Italy, and eat lots and lots of pasta and gelato! Yum! Yesterday I spent almost the entire day at an internet cafe planning out our time in Italy, making reservations, etc. It was so much fun and so exciting!!

When I went home briefly, I arrived to a package from my sister Anna. She wrote me the sweetest note, and included really thoughtful and cute things for me. It was such a nice thing to come home to!

When my parents came to visit me they brought me a book from Eva back home; it's a murder mystery novel based on the story of Pride and Prejudice, titled Death Comes to Pemberley. It is a fun read, so I spent the night enjoying fiesta Starbursts from Anna, reading my book, and stopping every once in a while to check emails regarding Italy! It was such a fun day, provided by my family (and friends who are basically family). Thank you guys!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Random Walk...

This morning I woke up to go for my morning walk, and took the path around the back of Stirling castle, which is really cool! It runs along the old city wall, which still exists. I was heading back down to my flat, and decided to explore some other paths that I hadn't been to before, and stumbled upon the old beheading rock! Apparently the hill they used is right above my flat basically, which is a little bit disconcerting, but when you think about it, there probably isn't anywhere in Britain that hasn't witnessed some sort of gruesome history. Anyway, it was a really cool find. You can still see marks in the rock where the axe hit. Like I said in an earlier post, it can be hard sometimes to remember that history isn't just stories, it actually happened, and this object made history come alive again for me. Excuse the irony in that statement, since mostly that rock contributed to death. You just never know what you'll find walking around here! So cool!

Around Stirling

Yesterday was my parents' and Karl's last day with me in Scotland. We decided to spend the day around Stirling instead of trying to fit in another day trip, so it was nice and relaxing! After having breakfast at the bed and breakfast (The lady was so nice and let me eat breakfast there with them in the mornings), we went out to finish everyone's missions. First, I had a pile of stuff to send home with them, so Dad helped me get that together and bring it back to the b&b. Then, Mom really wanted a British cookbook, so we looked around at different stores to compare her options, and Dad wanted to find a tie in a specific tartan, so he and Karl went to take care of that.

It was a day of running various errands, but it was actually really fun! When Mom and I were looking for her bookstore, we went up a street I had never been to before. There is an "Olde Sweet Shoppe" at the top of it, some cafes, bakeries, and restaurants I haven't tried...and of course, the most important, Dominos Pizza! It was really cool! I definitely need to go back up and check it out!

After getting everything settled and ready for their early morning departure, we went to go see The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel, because I knew they would really like it. We had originally planned to go to a restaurant Mom and I had found, but couldn't resist my Indian take-away, Chico's, so we ate there instead. So, so yummy! He told Mom and Dad that he would take care of me :)

They all walked me back to my flat, and we had to say goodbye, which I really hate. I know I will continue to have a fantastic time here, but watching them leave was definitely not easy. I think I am so blessed though, because I genuinely enjoy my family's company so much, and we have such great times together. Being away helps me see what a huge part of my life they are, and I'm happy about that!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Day In Edinburgh!

Today we spent another fun day in Edinburgh! Since the family had already seen all of the necessary tourist spots, we mainly focused on walking the royal mile, and going into shops that we had only window shopped in the day before. It was a pretty relaxing day, and it felt like the time just flew by!

One thing we got to do that we hadn't before was climb up Arthur's Seat. It was so so windy, but the view of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas from up there is just gorgeous! Plus it was fun to stretch our legs and get our hearts going a bit. Plus we needed to built up appetites for more shortbread!

I purchased a few pieces of Queen Victoria china when I was in London with Rebecca, and today as my souvenir, my parents bought me the last two pieces to make a full set--the creamer and sugar bowl! I'm so excited, because now I can have a tea for two with all one set of really pretty china! I eventually want to get more cups and saucers and plates (since I only have two of each), and also dinner plates, but I definitely have a promising start. Yahoo! 

When we got back to Stirling, we went back to Molly Malone's for dinner with Amanda, which was really fun. None of us were hungry enough for dessert though, which means it's all about the toffee pudding tomorrow. That is non-negotiable.

Tomorrow is the last day the family is going to be in Scotland :( I really don't want them to leave...I think they should just move here for the next 11 weeks! It has been so much fun having them here and I'm not ready for it to end, but I suppose all good things have to come to a close eventually. We will be spending the day out and about Stirling, maybe going back up to the castle, and then taking a walk along the old city wall, which should be fun!

Until later!

Fish, Chips, and More Ghosts!

This is going to be a very fast entry, because I need to meet up with my family again in a few minutes. Yesterday we went to Oban! Even thought the train ride was a little bit long, it was SUCH a fun trip. Oban is so beautiful. It's basically like an older Seattle that never turned into a major city, so it has the ocean side charm, mixed with the old world charm I love about Scotland. Amazing.

We went to The George Street Fish and Chips for lunch when we got there, which was supposedly the best fish and chips in the area. We all basically died and went to heaven. It was AMAZING! I have never ever had fish and chips that good before. Totally worth a trip back up to Oban so I can try it again!

After feeding ourselves and some seagulls, we made the trek up to Dunolli Castle, which used to be a MacDougal castle, but now is just ruins. Having seen the castle, we made our way back down to Dunolli house, where the real fun began! Two ladies, Elise and Catherine, made our visit to Dunolli house a completely worthwhile and enjoyable time. First, Elise took us on a tour of the house, and was able to show us the most amazing things. We saw portraits of people, and then were able to see, immediately after, the actual clothes they were wearing in the portrait. How cool is that? Being able to connect with history on this level really made it come alive for all of us. We realized again that history isn't just a story, like it's sometimes easy to think, these people were really alive!

We got a reminder that these people really existed when we went down for tea, following the tour. The housekeeper had made scones that blew my mind, they were so good! I know I go on and on about the food, but believe me. You have not had scones until you have tried those. During tea, we were talking about all sorts of cool historical pieces, and then we got into the ghost stories! I am going to leave the ghost stories for another blog, but suffice to say, we were all creeped out by the time we left!

We had to get back on the train to Stirling pretty immediately, and then had a fun train picnic of oat cakes, cheese, carrots, digestives, and ginger beer! It was a really fun time, and I can't wait for more adventures today!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Edinburgh Castle, Cullen Skink, and Spooky Underground Tours!

Yesterday we went to see Edinburgh! Mom and I had a nice conversation on the train ride there, and figured out my short term life plan :) It was actually really nice to talk stuff through and get advice, and I'm feeling much better and calmer about my post-Scotland plans!

When we got into Edinburgh, we got right onto the Royal Mile. I showed them the Elephant House, we went by to pet Greyfriar's Bobbie, and then headed up to the castle! I had actually not toured the inside of the castle yet, so it was great fun to be able to see it! It sounds a little dumb to say, but castles are so huge! They seriously go on forever. We got a guided tour though, which really is the way to see places like that. Otherwise, you would probably miss a lot of it. Plus, we had dad, so we basically got two tours at once! Good deal!

After the castle, we wandered back down the mile, and stopped at a pub for lunch, where I tried Cullen Skink for the first time! It's basically clam chowder, except made with haddock and a slightly lighter milk base than clam chowder. Very very tasty! I definitely want to have it again. Then, we decided to try cranachan, because it's supposed to be an unmissable Scottish dessert. Turns out, you can miss it. It's basically just a lot of cream, which doesn't really suit any of us...we like our desserts intense  (like the toffee pudding at Molly Malone's...HOLY COW that's AMAZING).

Following lunch, we took our time window shopping down the rest of the mile, stopping whenever a shop caught one of our eyes. It was a really relaxing and enjoyable time. Down at the bottom, at Holy Rood House, we debated climbing Arthur's Seat, but it was getting dark and we didn't want a repeat of my attempt with Erika! So we walked back up, mom and I taking note of tea places so that when we go back later in the week we can have a nice tea.

When we got back up to the church, we decided to take on of the haunted tours of Edinburgh. The one that sounded the best to us was the underground one. The tour guide took us down into these tunnels, essentially, that run under Edinburgh. They were places for merchants to store their goods, but because the underground tunnels were built with limestone, all the moisture ruined their products. So, the merchants evacuated the area, and the scum of 17th century Edinburgh moved in. The tunnels go on on and on, but the tour only consisted of a small chunk of it. Believe me though, that was enough! It was so dark and clammy and creepy in there. Our tour guide told us about the sightings of various ghosts and the like down there. I have to say, it's easy when you're sitting in the sun somewhere to say that you don't believe in stuff like that, but when you're down in places like that, you really start to wonder.

After our tour we caught the train back to Stirling, and tried to find a place for dinner! I was originally going to show them my favorite curry place, but they were out of lamb, which is my favorite, so we decided to try again tomorrow (now today). The only other place still open, since restaurants close early here, was a Chinese buffet. But, it was actually tasty! I was pleasantly surprised, and would definitely go back. We also didn't realize how hungry we all were after a light lunch hours earlier.

After dinner they walked me back to my flat, and I gave them Rick Steves for their trip to Glasgow today. Since I had class today I couldn't go with them, which was unfortunate, but it's the only day I'm missing, so it's really not that bad. And I get to see them again in less than an hour to try my curry place again!

It has been so fantastic to have my family here and be able to show them all of my favorite places in Scotland so far. Tomorrow we're doing a day trip to Oban, which I haven't been to before, so I'm really excited! Dad went before, and he heard that the best fish and chips place is up there, so that's definitely something to look forward to! Also the scenery is supposed to be amazing or something.


Bringing the family to Stirling!

On Sunday my parents and Karl got to Scotland!! I caught the first train from Stirling to Edinburgh to meet them at the train station, and I accidentally got off a stop early because I was so anxious to see them! Luckily I realized my mistake quickly and jumped back on.

After meeting up, we caught the train immediately back into Stirling, got them situated, and then went to my favorite pub in Stirling, Molly Malone's, for a bite of lunch. Karl got fish and chips, dad got haggis, mom got an Irish take on a savory crepe, and I got ham and eggs! It was all really delicious, and we got to share...including dad! We all tried haggis. It was actually not bad. I wouldn't order it myself, but it wasn't as awful as I was anticipating, and now I can say that I've tried it! So that was good.

After lunch, we walked up and toured Stirling castle, which took a few hours since it's relatively extensive. We stopped for some tea and scones after the castle, and they all realized how tired they were, so they went back to the b&b to relax and get ready for the next day!


I haven't had a chance to update my blog in a while, so I'm playing a little bit of catch up today! Last Saturday, the 10th, Amanda and I went to check out Glasgow. We had run through it when we got on the wrong train two weeks before, but we wanted to actually check out the city! We did the Rick Steves walking tour, which was really good, as always! That man is a genius!

The first stop on the walking tour was the lighthouse, which has fantastic views of the city. There was some sort of event going on, we couldn't figure out what, but the top observation floor was closed for the day! We were really bummed, but then this old man told us that they were still setting up, so we should just take the elevator up and say we didn't know. So, that's what we did! Luckily there wasn't anybody up there even, so we got to take a look and get our pictures! It was really pretty, and it was also a clear day so we could see pretty far.

After the lighthouse, the walking tour pretty much just consisted of architectural designs and the like. So there wasn't anything really dramatic, but it was a nice walk around the city and we felt like we got the city down pretty well.

Before going home, we took a ride on the Ferris wheel, because Amanda was very excited by it! It was fun to see more of the city, and the little kid in me was thrilled to be on a ride :)

Overall, it was a pretty relaxing day! We caught the train and were home by dinner! I think we don't need to go back from a tourist perspective, but there is definitely a lot of shopping and great restaurants and pubs we wanted to check out! Until then, Glasgow!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Weird Collision of Two Worlds!

A few days ago, I found out that a friend from WSU who graduated a year ago, Erika, was randomly coming to visit Scotland! Another reason why social media is amazing - if it hadn't been for Facebook we would never have known!

On Wednesday I went up to spend the day in Edinburgh with her. We went to the Elephant House again, partially because I love it, and partially because Erika has an obsession for elephants, so we were both happy. Really, we just kind of wandered around, did some shopping on Prince's street, and ate dinner at a cute pub below the castle. After dinner we decided to use whatever daylight we had left to walk up Arthur's Seat, this ancient volcanic plug. Basically it's a huge, rocky hill. We didn't get too far up, because it was getting dark and all I knew about Arthur's Seat was that the main detective in the British detective series "Case Histories" found a dead body up there once. I decided to wait and tell Erika about that until we were back into central Edinburgh. What we did see though, was beautiful, and I really want go back up in the daylight!

I ended up staying the night so that we could explore some of Edinburgh's pub scene together, but since I had class at 10 the next morning I had to leave at the crack of dawn. I was a little bit nervous while I walked through Edinburgh before the sun started to come up, plus a little bit grumpy from lack of sleep. All of that faded away though, when I saw the sun rise over the Scottish scenery on the train ride home. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

On Saturday morning, Erika came up to spend a few days in Stirling. It was really fun to be able to show someone else around my little town, and made me feel for the first time like Stirling is my home, or at least my safe place. Since there's not too much to see in Stirling, we went to check out Loch Lomond, which is Scotland's largest freshwater lake. Just our luck, my first day of real rain was the day we chose to do an outdoor activity! But the loch was really pretty, and it's always fun to go see something different.

We spent Sunday poking around Stirling, walking up to the castle, looking in some of the little shops, just kind of having a relaxed day in town. For dinner, I took Erika to my favorite little whole in the wall, a tiny curry take-away place. This small old man owns it, and he's the only one who ever works there. The last time I had gone, I asked for spicy, and he was really worried that it was too spicy for me, but it wasn't spicy enough! So this time, Erika and I both told him that we wanted it really spicy. Holy Moley, did we get spicy! We sat on my room floor, eating our curries, crying from the heat and laughing at the situation. It was really delicious though!

It was very odd to see Erika in Scotland. It's kind of like your brain boxes things up. The friends who I have made here, the places I've gone, everything is put into my Scotland box. And everything from home is in its own separate box. So having Erika in this other world was very, very odd and actually kind of surreal. It was so much fun though, and made me very excited to show my parents and Karl around in less than a week!