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Bagpipes & Bus Rides: Adventures in Scotland

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WRITTEN BY

Austin Harris
Jul 15, 2014


TOPIC
Culture, Student Life

Bagpipes & Bus Rides: Adventures in Scotland

The day before embarking on the Summer 2014 voyage, fellow student Taylor Vincent and I split the price of a hotel in London, England, after connecting a month before through Facebook. Sharing an uncanny amount of interests and passions, we instantly became close friends. Within a week or two of the voyage we already were throwing around ideas for making our own adventures in the upcoming countries–as many students do on their own independent travel in port. One of our most anticipated locations was Scotland, so we knew we had to experience it to the fullest that we could.

Taylor and I began our journey by catching the morning train headed east, with our bags packed for a three-day journey. We knew our desitnations—Edinburgh and St. Andrews—but were still unsure about how we would pull it all off. Utilizing precious WiFi, we booked a hostel on the train, and decided where we wanted to go for the day.
Taylor and I began our journey by catching the morning train headed east, with our bags packed for a three-day journey. We knew our destinations—Edinburgh and St. Andrews—but were still unsure about how we would pull it all off. Using precious WiFi, we booked a hostel on the train, and decided where we wanted to go for the day.
After disembarking in Edinburgh and exploring the streets, we talked to a few locals to get directions to Craigmillar Castle, a hidden gem that often remains forgotten and unknown.
After disembarking in Edinburgh and exploring the streets, we talked to a few locals to get directions to Craigmillar Castle, a hidden gem not too far from the city.
Located about 30 minutes away by bus, the castle is hidden behind a hill and accessed via a short hike through beautiful Scottish countryside.
Located about 30 minutes away by bus, the castle is hidden behind a hill and accessed via a short hike through beautiful countryside.
After reaching the top of a hill, the castle in the distance took us by surprise! It was quite a site to see—architecture from the XX century surrounded by rolling hills and tall grass.
After reaching the top of a hill, the castle in the distance took us by surprise! It was quite a site to see—stone architecture from the 14th century surrounded by rolling hills and tall grass.
The top of the castle gave us a marvelous 360-degree panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside, with views of the Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, and more.
The top of the castle gave us a marvelous 360-degree panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside, as well as Edinburgh Castle and the impressive Arthur’s Seat.
Right inside the castle were a few big trees with low-hanging branches. We took this opportunity to set up our hammocks underneath, taking some time to relax and rejuvenate ourselves for the adventure ahead.
Right inside the castle were a few big trees with low-hanging branches. We took this opportunity to set up our hammocks underneath, taking some time to relax before the next adventure ahead.
We stopped again for a short while on the walk back to take photos and appreciate the rural beauty before catching the train back to the city center.
We stopped again for a short while on the walk back to take photos and appreciate the rural beauty before catching the train back to the city center.
From Prince Street is an incredible view of Edinburgh Castle, one of the main attractions of the city.
From Prince Street is an incredible view of Edinburgh Castle, one of the main attractions of the city.
Street performers line the sidewalks, from human statues to bagpipe players.
Street performers line the sidewalks, from human statues to bagpipe players.
The next morning, we talk to a few locals, beginning to figure out how we were going to reach St. Andrews.
The next morning, we took a bus ride out of the city, equipped with granola squares and sandwiches for the long day’s ride to St. Andrews.
Along the way, we passed some of the most beautiful towns and farms I have ever seen; sheep filled the countryside and quaint Scottish homes lined the streets.
Along the way, we passed some of the most beautiful towns and farms I have ever seen; sheep filled the countryside and quaint Scottish homes lined the streets.
Arriving in St. Andrews at long last, we were amazed by the majestic architecture of the small town.
Arriving in St. Andrews at long last, we were amazed by the majestic architecture of the small town.
We connected with Taylor’s old friend and mentor, and he invited us in for a home-cooked meal and a place to sleep. He then took us on a tour around the city and the small beach and harbor. Ruins from the twelfth century were still standing, and he told us about some of the history behind these ancient structures.
We connected with Taylor’s old friend and mentor, and he invited us in for a home-cooked meal and a place to sleep. He then took us on a tour around the city and the small beach and harbor. Ruins from the twelfth century were still standing, and he told us about some of the history behind these ancient structures.
The expansive beaches were absolutely remarkable, and the sky was filled with clouds that looked as if they were straight from a painting.
The expansive beaches in St. Andrews were absolutely remarkable, and the sky was filled with clouds that looked as if they were straight from a painting.
We lingered until sunset, watching the colors of the sky change from blue, to orange, to purple, before heading back for a much-needed night of sleep.
We lingered until sunset, watching the colors of the sky change from blue, to orange, to purple, before heading back for a much-needed night of sleep.

Throughout our journey, we relied on the kindness of the local people of Scotland, constantly being surprised at their eagerness to help us. Though we had only a small taste of all that the country has to offer, I can say with full confidence that this will be one of the places that someday, I will see again.

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