Last day in Scotland!
Breakfast this morning was basically the same as every British breakfast we’ve had – hot food, cold toast, croissants, tea, juice, cereal – and then it was off to Stirling!
There are two major things to do in Stirling. The first is to visit Stirling Castle, and the second is to visit the William Wallace monument. Pamela and I opted to do neither. (But if you’re curious: the reason for the monument is that this was the site of the Battle Of Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace led the Scottish resistance to their first real victory over the English.)
But we skipped these, because we weren’t super-excited about doing another castle (especially one with an entry fee that was over £15), and paying for a cab ride to and from the William Wallace memorial also didn’t really seem worth it. Instead, we explored the “Top of the Town cemeteries”.
We actually spent quite a while wandering around a couple of the cemeteries near Stirling Castle. The stones, in general, weren’t as old as we had expected: we did see one clearly dated in the 1500s, and a couple with numbers that might have represented dates in the 1600s, but the vast majority were from around 1850 and later.
Angel on a headstone
Two interesting things that we noticed about these stones: first, there were a surprising number of people born in the late 1700s who lived into their 70s and 80s, and second, a lot of the stones were memorial stones for entire families. They’d start off with one or two names on them and the rest left blank, and then more and more people were added as time went on. It’s not clear if all these people were actually interred there or not; we suspect not.
A typical multi-person memorial
Once we were done with that, we got lunch at a pub that actually felt oddly North-American, and then started the walk back up to the castle. The bus was waiting for us at the castle, which is on top of the hill, and the road to get there is very steep, so we wanted to leave plenty of time so that we didn’t have to hurry back.
Along the way, we passed the Church Of The Holy Rude (where “rude”, often spelled “rood”, is an old word for the cross of the crucifixion). I wanted to take a look inside; Pamela wasn’t that interested and had seen a souvenir shop near the bus that she wanted to check out. So we split up and I investigated the church.
The Church Of The Holy Rude
It was pretty nice! All big stone pillars and stained glass windows. The people there gave me a little map and some information about the church so that while I wandered around I knew what I was looking at. The church was built in stages, with annexes and towers added on over the years, and based on some of the construction they think the original plans called for another tower that was never built. But the best story is that at one point (during the Reformation, I think), two ministers had a disagreement and the congregation was divided, some supporting each minister, and they “resolved” it by actually building a wall across the church and turning it into two separate churches, with one minister preaching in each half! (The wall’s gone now; a later minister managed to re-unite the two halves.)
Inside the Church Of The Holy Rude
Also, king James VI was coronated in that church (as an infant). They’re very proud of that, and there’s a stone marking the location.
We’ve got more great weather today: it’s warm, but not too hot or humid, and it’s partly cloudy, so we’re getting a lot of sun. We keep hearing how lucky we are. It’s a good thing we have good weather, though, because everyone’s getting tired, and if it was grey and rainy it might be getting really bad. I keep hearing people talk about how they miss their beds or their homes or whatever…and most of them still have the whole Ireland leg of the trip to do yet! Pamela and I have been on vacation for 12 days now, and are getting ready to go home…and we’re not the only ones. The mood on the bus is getting a bit punchy, with people randomly singing or saying ridiculous things; we’ve spent too much time on the coach, I think, and it’s kind of like cabin fever.
I’m definitely tired. I got plenty of sleep last night, but the trip and being sick are catching up to me. I fell asleep on the bus this afternoon and slept right through our entrance into Glasgow, including at least half of Roxy telling us about the city and what there is to do around here. (Short version: surprisingly little.) We did stop very quickly at Glasgow Cathedral for some photos, before Muffin dropped us off at the hotel.
Our hotel room doesn’t appear to have wi-fi, so Pamela and I are wrote our blog posts, and then went out to wander the city and look for wi-fi somewhere. There’s surprisingly little to do around here…there’s a big street full of shopping, but it’s not interesting shopping: it’s all pound shops (i.e. dollar stores) and shoes and clothes and whatnot…a great shopping strip for locals, but nothing really that you’d do while on vacation. We passed several buskers, including a guy about dad’s age singing “Walking On Sunshine” while playing guitar, a mid-20s woman speaking and rapping about social injustice, and a band of guys in kilts playing bagpipes and drums (I was amused enough to buy their CD).
We also found the best busker ever: an energetic ginger fellow playing and singing anything you could think of on an amplified acoustic guitar. (I think the first thing we heard him sing was “The Bear Necessities” from The Jungle Book, and at one point he sang a medley with “Blitzkrieg Bop” spliced into the middle of “Footloose”. He was great.)
We ended the day at a local pub for our last night with the tour group…we were told not to wear yellow or green tops, though, or we might find ourselves unwittingly taking sides in the local soccer rivalry. And then tomorrow morning it’s onto the plane to Dublin!
(We ended up not finding any wifi, so I bought some time from the hotel hotspot. This probably means that Pamela won’t post anything tonight. And given that I paid for it, it’s disappointingly bad.)