I feel like I've been really busy the past few days! Classes went well for the week, but of course the most exciting things come when I'm not in class. After class on Wednesday, Ken, Litta and I did a bit of exploring. We had lunch at The Elephant House, a cafe which has been made famous because J.K. Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter there. Not a huge HP fan but it was still pretty cool to be there. We had a great lunch and there is an awesome view of the castle from inside. After lunch we wandered around and found some interesting things. One was the statue of Greyfriar's Bobby (a little dog). The story goes that this dog stayed by his masters grave for until he died (13 years!) After seeing that, we went into Greyfriars graveyard which is also where Greyfriars Kirk church is located. We didn't get to go inside but it was beautiful from the outside. The graveyard itself was so interesting. Most were from the 1700s and 1800s and they were really elaborate! Quite an experience to wander through it.
Greyfriars Bobby Statue
After Greyfriars we headed to the National Museum of Scotland. It's huge! Six floors, we only made it through two that day. But still, some really cool stuff. A lot of what we saw were ancient Roman artifacts from when they had invaded a long, long time ago. We will definitely go back to see the rest of the museum eventually.
Friday I had no class, so a few of us explored a part of Edinburgh called New Town. It was "off the beaten path", at least that of tourists, and was really fun to walk around. I had my first Fish N Chips while in Scotland and it was good! Later we stumbled upon a really nice pond that had a TON of swans in it and got to see a nice sunset on the way home. That night was a friend's birthday so we had a fun time celebrating that at a pub or two. Now for the second time I managed to forget my ID but somehow got in with my meal card... go figure.
On the way to New Town
Today was a big day: St. Andrews! St. Andrews is about an hour and half from Edinburgh and considered the home of golf and the Scottish reformation. It was a trip put on by the International Student Center, so all 250 of us boarded busses and headed out around 9 am. The town was great! It is much quieter than Edinburgh and is a quaint seaside town that happens to be the birthplace of golf and home to St. Andrews University, the oldest university in Scotland. We started off by checking out the golf course a bit, which was really fun to see. Next we went to the ruins of the St. Andrews Castle (fairly new, built in 1200.) Yep, 1200, that's unbelievable! Apparently King James the II stayed there pretty often. There is some great history behind that castle, too much to explain here.
Part of the castle
Next we made our way over to the ruins of the St. Andrews Cathedral. The architecture was beautiful, and it also was surrounded by a very old yet fascinating graveyard. It is located basically on top of a bluff looking out over the ocean. We also climbed the tower there which provided an unbelievable view of St. Andrews. After grabbing some lunch at a local cafe, we went to the beach. No bathing suits this time! The beach was beautiful and I even found some sea glass which was a nice surprise. The beach actually reminded me of the Outerbanks in North Carolina. It was wide, long, and surrounded by sand dunes. It felt great to be back on a beach!
View from the tower
West Sands Beach
Practicing my swing
So after an action packed day, we headed back to school around 5. I really enjoyed St. Andrews and can't wait to see more places like it!