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They Have a Castle
St. Andrews Castle dates back to the 16th Century, it’s situated 800 yards east of the Links on a rock overlooking the North Sea. Its history tells of much Scottish building, English capture and dismantling and Scottish recapture and rebuilding. Although its importance diminished after the Reformation, it remains one of Scotland's most significant buildings.
St Mary's Church
At the back of the cathedral in the direction of the harbour, you can see the few remains of the church of St Marys. the cruciform remains are that of the first collegiate church in Scotland. It was destroyed during the reformation.
St. Andrews - the little town that gives you more!
"Charming sites + rocking food = good place"
If you have been here and you are not into big city - you will know what I meant. If you are going here and looking for the golf then the other story of the city, I tell you you are going to get more.
I found the town as beautiful, charming and relaxing. Yet, it is also alive. You have everything you need, except perhaps the noise of big city or a little busy city.
The city is surrounded by old buildings, on spring time, the flowers between the small lane and alleys make the entire city look extremely breathtaking. You can get good food, good ice cream and the small extra of sandy beach.
Get a nice two days of rest - enjoy the cute dogs walking in the shore and the city. Don't forget to taste the foods at recommended restaurants and you will remember St. Andrews as not the golf town only, but a town that gives you more.
Trust me :)
Six hours in Saint Andrews
At Waverly Station I waited for the train to St. Andrews via Leuchars. (Trains don't go direct to St. Andrews but to Leuchars, where there is a short bus ride to town. The whole journey from Edinburgh cost about $20 US.
March 17 was supposed to be Glasgow on my itinerary but my Haggis guide, despite Glasgow being his hometown, told me to do Stirling or St. Andrews instead. And as usual he was right.
Walking into the station I thought how much I love the feel of a backpack on my back and navigating a foreign city with confidence. I think I'm really only my best self when travelling. Need to get a job which supports more extensive travel.
At the platform I unwisely fed some pigeons and created a minor scene. Once on the train I sat across from two nice middle-aged ladies who raved about Virgin trains (I’d take a Virgin Atlantic flight to Scotland and loved it—total comfort.). Our train was very nice, though only a Scotrail one. I enjoyed the one-hour journey.
In Scotland you don't "get off" a train, you "alight." So I alighted at Leuchars and caught the bus to St. Andrews. It was my first-ever double-decker bus, and I liked it, but the second story was very jerky. I wouldn't ride on top again.
St. Andrews is a small and pretty town and I liked it immediately. Except for some stops for shopping, I walked through it rather quickly to get to the cathedral, situated at the end of town on the water. The ruins of St. Andrews cathedral were even better than the abbey at Holyrood in Edinburgh, very ancient and very moving.
At the ruins I climbed to the top of St. Rule's tower (1124). This was a bit horrible for me because I'm scared of heights and I guess a bit claustrophobic too. The spiral stone staircase was only as wide as I am--a fat person could never make it--and also steep and dark. I can't imagine what happens when there is someone trying to go down at the same time someone's coming up. it made me nervous. But once up there the view was worth it. The sound of seagulls was not quite as nice (or as loud) as those at Portree on the Isle of Skye, but still--seaside towns are magical.
At "Butts Wynd"--a genuine street name--I ran across a bunch of students, St. Andrews being Scotland's oldest university. "NO WAR" slogans were chalked all over the streets, and they must have been holding student body elections because campaign signs were everywhere as well.
I had lunch at the Balaka Bangladeshi restaurant, which was very, very good. Over lunch I leafed through a British newspaper and read a quote from Saddam Hussein: "The battle will take place wherever there is sky, land and water." Pretty unnerving when my flight (sky over water) and the start of the "war" (land) were both scheduled for the next day.
I hated that I even had to start thinking about this stuff again. I'd been living in escape from my government's actions for days now. Only bits of it floated up at me throughout the trip, like the phrase "Saddam Hussein's regime'" heard from a taxi window. I tried to ignore it as best I could.
After lunch it was time to walk again.
This being the first cold, foggy day I had in Scotland, I had to stop in a woolens shop and buy myself a pair of cashmere gloves for just six pounds. (What a hardship, eh?)
"At the castle"
Next stop: St. Andrews castle. I've been to plenty of castles (and ruins of castles) before, but never ruined seaside castles. The sound of waves crashing against rock just somehow made it more castle-y.
The most interesting thing about St. Andrews castle, besides the atmosphere, was the mines and counter-mines. Back in the day, some people were trying to break in to the castle and kill the inhabitants by digging a mine. Those inside heard of the plan and began digging a counter-mine to render the invaders' mine useless.
You can go into these mines, but there is a big sign warning, "Enter at your own risk." I see why. The ceilings are only about three feet tall so you have to bend double to travel them. I only made it a few hundred feet before I realized I'd seen this place before in a nightmare, and got out.
Back outside, I read that the insiders won, but with little time to spare. You could tell their desperation because their mine was all twisty and small as opposed to the invaders' deep, straight mine.
Leaving the castle I walked down the embankment of the North Sea towards the Old Course at St. Andrews, birthplace of golf and therefore very important to my Dad. I was walking along thinking this would be the perfect place for a philosopher to live when I passed a stone building: St. Andrews Department of Moral Philosophy. Moral Philosophy--I liked that distinction.
"The Old Course"
The Old Course is beautiful--you don't have to be a golf fan to appreciate the green, green grass, the immaculate facilities, or the visual sweep of the crags to the sea. Inside the Royal and Ancient Golf Club building, I glimpsed a bunch of old white men in coats and ties sitting under chandeliers. Apparently women are only allowed in once a year, on St. Andrews Day. That, and some golfers teeing off, was my last image of the town.
Leaving St. Andrews, a young caddy put an ancient caddy on the bus and saw him off, whereupon the old caddy talked to himself and muttered the entire journey. It was strangely moving, and a fitting image to cap off my day in this place that so charmingly juxtaposed young (university students) and old (buildings and ruins).