As if we hadn't gotten enough fresh air already, in the afternoon, Rob and I took a small tourist cruise. We first took a rather expensive bus trip 20 minutes to Queensferry and then arrived on our boat. Rob and I were one of the first to step on board, and as we did, I asked one of the employees a quick question. He had been in the middle of counting all of the passengers and he joked that I had interrupted him. Five minutes after I was seated, the employee came up to me and had me walk passed all the passenger, using his counter to double check the number of passengers! I definitely appreciated his laid-back nature!
The cruise itself was wonderful. The River Forth has so much history and a lasting heritage. We passed by an old Augustine monastery on an island, which if we had taken the earlier cruise, we could have explored. We learned of WWII battles that took place there. We passed under the famous Forth Bridge and saw the UK's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. We even saw a grey seal sitting on a buoy right next to the boat! As a 'Seale', I was ecstatic. The commentary on the cruise was excellent, although hard to hear since we were sitting outside with the wind.
The next day was our final full day in Edinburgh and we didn't actually spend it in the city! I was torn between two things: visit Edinburgh Castle, which would have been a great historical trip or visit the University of St. Andrew's in nearby Fife. When I was in high school, I was accepted to the university for my bachelors but opted not to attend because they didn't have the program I was looking for. I had long wanted to visit and here I was, so close to it.
Rob and I took a train to St. Andrew's and explored the town. It was a nice break from city-life. We had brunch at a great cafe, which, to be honest, felt supremely American. In fact, sitting in a nearby table was a group of American girls who I assumed must have been university students. Americans were everywhere.
Afterwards, we walked through the town and came to the ruined Cathedral of St. Andrew's. I have been to many old churches, but to walk through one in complete ruins, to stand before what was once the main altar, to pass by the old graves was a truly humbling experience.
As we walked through the town, we stumbled upon the main building for English studies for the University of St. Andrews. This is where I would have spent most of my time! We entered, I explored, and I knew this was an experience I could have had, but as I looked up an down the list of the classes, my mouth only watered a little bit. Ultimately, I was very happy I didn't attend; I was able to have different experiences instead.
Since we missed out on exploring Edinburgh Castle, we spent about half an hour exploring St. Andrew's Castle instead. While much, much smaller and missing a lot of walls and a roof, it was very neat to explore. The castle was a real battleground during the Reformation: in an attempt to take the castle, the Protestants began to dig a tunnel, but the Catholics found out and dug a counter-tunnel, meeting the Protestants underground and battling it out. This was the coolest part of the castle: we got to crouch into the tunnel and walk through! Very cool.
Before we had to catch our bus, Rob and I stopped by the golf courses to see where the sport began. This was literally walking there and walking back, just so we could say we'd seen it! We also grabbed some hot chocolate from the cafe where Prince William and Kate Middleton often went on dates, North Point cafe. Unfortunately, the service was slow, but otherwise I loved this place because it felt so down-to-earth and because they have the most delicious salmon bagel I've ever had! If you go, be sure to get the bagel with salmon, mango chutney, bacon, and cream cheese! Delicious.
After much needed relaxation in St. Andrews, Rob and I returned to Edinburgh and our trip was at an end. We enjoyed scotch, shopping, a hike, a cruise, and all that St. Andrew's has to offer. It was a jam-packed adventure. Next time, and I do think there will be a next time, I'll explore Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles Cathedral. Edinburgh just has too much to offer for such a short trip.