23 September 2010

September 21

Today was quite possibly the busiest day we’ve had.  We started out in Stirling, Scotland this morning, got up at 8:15 for breakfast, and had left the hotel by 9:15.  Lauren, our sponsor, bought a CD of bagpipe music that was possibly the most glorious thing I had ever heard in my life.  It was just funny to be listening to bagpipe music in Scotland.  Our bus drive, Robbie, was not pleased with our choice of music.
We drove the short distance to the William Wallace Monument and got to explore it.  I was really excited to see it since we had just watched Braveheart the night before.  The monument was massive and impressively tall, built on a pretty high, very steep hill.  There was a shuttle that could take you up to the top, but the shuttle is one of those things that you leave for the sponsors to take.  You don’t want to be the wimp that didn’t hike up to the top, you know?  Anyways, I got pretty dizzy halfway up the hill.  I don’t know exactly what happened, but in all honesty I wasn’t too worried.  I get dizzy fairly often.  That just meant that Brad, Lauren (another student, not our sponsor), and I were the last ones to the top.  Once inside, there are 246 stairs up to the top.  All but about ten of those are part of a very narrow spiral staircase with thin steps.  It was especially cramped and scary when there was one person trying to go the opposite direction of you on the staircase.  Not a party.  There were two landings with different exhibits that you could reach before you got to the top:  the Wallace Room and the Hall of Heroes.  The Wallace Room was basically the history behind William Wallace and his uprising.  In it is housed the actual sword that Wallace carried with him.  The Hall of Heroes has different busts of people famous to Scottish history, including Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce.  The very top of the structure was the most impressive part, though.  Once you reach the top, you can see for miles.  I know I went on yesterday about how far you could see from Hadrian’s Wall, so I won’t do that again.  Just know that it was absolutely gorgeous, especially with the mountain rising in the distance, hidden by mists and fog.  I ended up taking a 360-degree panoramic shot of the view that I could see from the top, which I was very excited about. 
We made our way down from the monument, and I must say going down was so much easier than going up.  As soon as we got to the bus, we were off to St. Andrew’s, known for its ridiculous obsession with golfing.  We had basically four hours of free time here, and it was a blast.  Most of the students went to the same place for lunch, but then we split up afterwards depending on where we wanted to go.  Lauren, Brad and I went to the ruins of a cathedral by the beach that was pretty awesome.  It’s surrounded by a graveyard on all sides, but the ruins themselves have a Narnia-esque feeling to them.  We took a few pictures, but then we headed to the main attraction:  the beach.  You see, poor Brad is from Kansas and had never seen the ocean before this trip.  Therefore, he had never been to the beach.  Lauren and I decided it was our duty to take him to his first trip to the beach, despite the freezing cold water and the lack of warm sunlight.  On the way there, we found some rocks that we could climb that hung out over the ocean.  That was really fun, and I think we all secretly felt like adventurers as we scaled the rocks.  We didn’t stay there long though, because we were very anxious to get to the beach.  Once we got there, we took off our shoes and socks, dumped our jackets and other stuff, rolled up our jeans, and took out our cameras to document the occasion.  The water was soooooo cold.  I think that it had been about 55 degrees that day, so the water was actually cooler than that.  Oh man.  I really can’t even express how cold it was.  But it was so worth it.  Lauren and I took pictures of everything, from Brad writing his name in the sand to Brad going into the ocean for the first time.  We felt like such moms.  Then, we decided that we couldn’t leave without making a sand castle.  Seeing as how we were on such a historic trip, we determined to make a model of the fort at Hadrian’s Wall.  Nerdy, I know.  It was pretty awesome, especially when we made an arch for the front gate out of sand and decorated it with seashells.  Needless to say, I think Brad had an amazing first beach experience. 
When our four hours were up, we drove to Edinburgh, which is where I am now.  We had more free time, but by the time we had eaten dinner and walked around a little bit we were tired.  Mary, my roommate, and I came back to the hotel we were staying at only to realize that there was no free wifi connection here.  We were both deeply upset.  In the end, we opted for a lazy night in and we both bought some chocolate and picked out a movie to watch.  It had been a really long day, and climbing all over rocks and ruins and steep monuments had worn us out.  As true girls, we picked out Tristan + Isolde to watch, which I had never seen before.  Oh dang.  It was a tragic, beautiful, girly mess of a movie that went along perfectly with our chocolate.  In all, a wonderful night.

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