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Surf From Coast to Coast (Really, drive along a single coast)

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 21 September 2014 | Views [291]

Our exit from the Best Western was the speediest par t of the day. Most of the rest of it consisted of driving leisurely along the coast, stopping whenever we saw something interesting. We only had two firm points of interest- St. Andrews because my sister wanted to see that castle, and Edinburgh, because that's where our hotel was. Everything else was up to the whim of the moment.

After we'd been driving for a bit, we noticed an interesting-looking lighthouse in the distance and a parking lot right next to where we were. So we parked, got out, and walked closer to it. It wasn't all that interesting, but it was nice to have the flexibility to get out and wander without then needing to wait two hours for the next train to show up.

Our next stop was St. Andrews. It had been roughly timed around lunch. Since we hadn't made many stops prior to that, we decided to see the castle first.

We got stuck behind a large tour group, so we had plenty of time to read the historical background and look at the cartoonish drawings on the wall of the visitor center before entering the castle. We eventually realized that we didn't need to wait for them and got around them and into the castle ruins beyond.

St. Andrews Castle

Dunrobin Castle may not have been a real castle, but at least it was distinctive. It's really hard to tell most of the other castles about. Saint Andrews looked a lot like many of the other castle ruins we'd been in. It was pretty and nice and all that, but it wasn't at the top of my “best castles ever” list.

Near one of the corners of the castle, there were a couple of steps leading down a a square, boxed-in area. There's nothing interesting in there. No good views or cool ruins or anything. But there are the steps that lead to it, and so you think you should go down them, because it will be worth it.

It wasn't. As I was coming back up the steps, I saw that my mom had entered the room above them. She looked like she wanted to go down, so I told her she shouldn't bother, it wasn't that interesting. She looked at me for a moment, decided that I wasn't trustworthy, and went down the steps. Fifteen seconds, she was back, conceding that I was right.

Because one of us had learned from this experience and one of us hadn't, when my father and sister came by, we warned them that there was nothing interesting down the steps. They looked at us, then at each other, then went down the steps undeterred.

 “Oh, wow,” I heard my sister say, and my father agreed with her, complimenting the slope of the ceiling. The two of them stayed down there long enough for that room to bore my mother and I a second time, and we wandered away.

 That is my biggest memory of St. Andrew's Castle.

 We decided that we were hungry when it started sprinkling. By the time we'd reached the main city and had found a restaurant, it was pouring. Because of that, we stopped in the first restaurant we saw. We were lucky in that we got tasty two course lunches for a reasonable price, which was pure luck. The service was a bit slow, and we were decidedly hungry by the time it arrived, but it meant that we outlasted the storm and were dry as we walked back to the car, so it was mostly a success.

 On we drove.

 We made one more stop at a castle and tea room. We didn't want to pay the money for either tea or seeing a castle, so we just looked around the bookstore for a bit. There were some neat items for sale, like The Wit and Wisdom of Highland Cows (images of Highland cows paired with philosophical sayings attributed to them. How can you beat that?) and a t-shirt that had the names of Scottish town with font size corresponding to population. We looked around for a bit, and some of us bought things, then we got back into the car and drove on.

 We arrived at the hotel and checked in without any difficulty. While my father and sister returned the car and walked back, my mom and I enjoyed a cup of tea and some solitude. Then we met up and headed down to the lobby. We'd found a place to sit and were at the bar deciding on drinks when my father and sister returned. They chose their drinks and a new, closer place to sit.

 The day before, when we'd just wanted a Hilton to sleep in, we'd all thought my father was pushing things a little when he asked them to write a note on our reservation that, if the Hilton did not have an executive lounge, we were to get coupons for free drinks. As we drank them one day later, we thanked him and took back our mocking. They were very much appreciated.

Tags: castles, driving, hilton, hotel, lighthouse

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