St. Andrew’s: A castle, cathedral, and cupcakes

27 Feb

On the 10th, Jack and I set off on an adventure to the north: Scotland. We hopped a train at King’s Cross (just like in Harry Potter, it was packed with Muggles) and enjoyed an almost six hour ride to Leuchars where we got on a bus to St. Andrew’s.

For those of you who don’t know, St. Andrew’s is home to the oldest golf course in the world and St. Andrew’s University, where a certain dashing young Brit goes to school. I’m not talking about Prince William as he has long since graduated. I’m talking about the ever-charming Charles. Jack and I have been close friends of Charles’s for a long time (Jack longer, but Charles loves me best) and since going off to college it’s rare that we all get to see each other. I hadn’t seen Charles since July; Jack hadn’t seen Charles since 2009. Needless to say, it was quite the happy reunion.

Our first night consisted of Jack and I building a place to sleep. We worked tirelessly into the night in order to perfect our sleeping chamber.

Sweet, cozy perfection with a 1970s flare

After a good night’s sleep we woke up early and had a light breakfast before heading out to explore. We started off walking through town, with Charles pointing out different restaurants and shops along the way, as well as explaining some St. Andrew’s tradition. The University was founded in 1613, making it much older than colleges in the States.

St. Salvatore's Church in the city center

Perhaps my new favorite street name... It looks like Butt's Wind. Like... Wind from the Butt. It is actually pronounced WHINED like... That kid whined all day.

This is the spot where Patrick Hamilton, a 23-year-old supporter of Martin Luther, was burned at the stake in 1528. He was a student at the University and to this day it is considered extremely bad luck to step on the PH whilst a student at St. Andrews. His ghost descended into the sky and...

And left an imprint in the stones of the church.

Typical St. Andrew's buildings. Basically, it feels a little like Hogwarts.

See what I mean? Turrets and bricks and medieval design elements... A lot like the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But where's Dumbledore's office?

Gotta love the views from the school

The streets in St. Andrew's are all similar to this one, except for the two main roads, which are wider and more commercial.

While Charles headed off to class Jack and I went to church. The St. Andrew’s Cathedral ruins, that is.

The Cathedral was originally built in the early 12th century after being a site of worship for about 400 years. What now remains is from the 1300s and 1400s as the original Cathedral was destroyed by a storm and later a fire.

People continue to be buried in the Cathedral cemetery so amongst the ancient tombs there are new, pristine headstones and monuments.

One wall of the chapel and a small spire

A doorway to the cemetery

An older section of the cemetery

Amazing that there are full walls standing

If you are an avid golfer, St. Andrew's is definitely a meaningful place to be laid to rest.

One of the neatest things about the Cathedral is the fact that a single tower is still standing and visitors are allowed to climb up (some pretty narrow, scary stairs) to the top for a panoramic view of the town.

The tower views…

Me (freezing!) on the tower

I like finding little doorways and windows…

Goodbye, St. Andrew's Cathedral (for now).

After the Cathedral we walked down the pier near East Sands beach.

Fishing boat

Fishing nets and buoys

East Sands beach

Steps into the water, a bit dangerous...

Someone left a scarf... Perhaps it's the Macbeth tartan?

Scottish cliffs are full of mystery and beauty

Seaside houses and the Cathedral ruins in the background

Me on the pier, with the Castle in the background

Charles met up with us after our walk along the pier and we went to the St. Andrew’s Castle ruins together. There was a group of three Justin Bieber-haired youngsters running around the grounds, which was entertaining. The castle is right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the sea.

The original castle was built and maintained in the 12th and 13th century but little of the original castle remains. What is there now is mostly from the 16th century, like much of the town.  The great hall was actually destroyed in the 1800s by a storm.

Main entrance to the castle

One of the more intact castle walls

Stairs in a tower overlooking the beach

I can only imagine how amazing it looked in its entirety.

More stairs, leading to...

A castle toilet!

Through the window...

And a spy hole

An entrance to the mine and countermine. Enemies dug their way toward the castle and as a defense, the Scottish dug countermines to trick their enemies into getting lost and stuck. You are allowed to enter the mines at your own risk and it is rumored that they span across the town.

Final window view of the ocean

Charles and I at the Castle

After we explored the ruins we met up with Charles’s flatmates for lunch at Pizza Express. Now, I realize that a name like Pizza Express implies cheap, fast, greasy food on the go but Pizza Express is none of that. It is some of the best pizza I have had in London and even though it’s a chain restaurant it still feels intimate and classy.

After our delicious pizza lunch we went to Bi Bi’s Cupcakes for some take-away (take-out) dessert. I’ve had a few cupcakes from this bakery by my school and they were okay… a bit dense in the cake part, not moist and fluffy like I’m used to but good frosting. So I was a bit weary of Bi Bi’s but enthusiastic. And with good reason. We brought our treats back to the flat, made some tea and indulged. I had a Crunchie flavored cupcake (a type of candy bar made by Cadbury that consists of milk chocolate with a honeycomb center) that was so delicious I wished I had a dozen of them.

For dinner we went to a seafood restaurant called The Tailend and had, what else?, fish and chips. The best of my trip so far: perfectly fried, thick cut chips, a perfect end to a great day.

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