Today was amazing!!! It was almost completely spent outside of Edinburgh, but that meant that we got to spend time in the countryside – exactly what I pictured when I think of Scotland!
We decide to head to Stirling, a small town located about an hour’s train ride away from Edinburgh. It is called the Gateway to the Highlands. This was also the original capital of Scotland, and has its own smaller castle built on top of a huge rock. The ride to Stirling was lovely. Once again God blessed us with lovely sunshine.
Upon arriving at Stirling, we got off and decided to head to the visitors center (I needed a map, naturally). Taking a random detour, we walked through Stirling Arcade, a sort of indoor shopping center with all different kinds of shops. On a whim, Nick decided to stop and look at some art in this little store called #hashtag. After taking forever to decide on some painted glass art, we went to the front to cash out.
There we met Pebbles. Pebbles was the lovely woman at the front who started by telling us a little about Stirling, especially about the castle. She was so open and friendly, that I decided to ask her what her thoughts were on the referendum.
As I wrote briefly yesterday, on September 18, Scots will vote to decide whether or not to end their union with the United Kingdom (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland). As you can imagine there are many implications that go along with this either way the vote swings. Our tour guide from yesterday, Colin, was very undecided. We found that Pebbles was the same, but she was able to give us a very concise and solid prospective, and I have a feeling that her prospective would ring true amongst many of the undecideds in the country.
During our conversation, another Scottish couple came and heard our discussion. They decidedly would be voting “no” come September, saying that they did not want to end unification. It was fun to be standing in the middle of this shop having such a conversation with three strangers.
Being an American, this is such an interesting concept to me, and I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to wrap my head around it. The closest way that I can compare is with Virginia wanting to leave the Union. Obviously, we all know what happened last time they did, but imagine the Federal Government saying that we could leave so long as the majority of Virginians said yes. To finally have something that so many people and fought for in the past. There seems to be so much propaganda out there in the market, and the majority of it, as we discovered from Pebbles, is around the mounds of money that will come Scots way if they vote “yes.”
Pebbles was lovely, and gave us such a warm welcome to Stirling in particular, and Scotland in general. We spent about an hour in her shop talking about a wide range of things from Obama to hillbilly Australians who drink horrible beer. I made her and Nick take a picture so that you all would be able to meet her as well.
Next we walked up a very steep hill to Stirling Castle. The view was amazing!! Standing there on the top of the Lady’s Walk, surrounded by such unspoilt beauty, I spent a prayer of thanksgiving to God. First that He got us here safe and sound, second that He allowed us to travel at all, and third that He took His time to make such an amazingly beautiful world for us to live in. He did not have to do that, but He did for our benefit. I was in awe.
We walked around Stirling Castle, but I mainly came back to the views. This was where Mary Queen of Scots used to live, and Stirling itself is near two key battles of the wars of Scottish Independence. One featuring William Wallace (Mel Gibson in Braveheart), and the second Robert the Bruce.
FEET. IN. PAIN.
After walking back down the hill, two things were happening. I was getting really hungry – it was somehow 3:00pm already and we’d seriously missed lunch – and my feet were starting to really hurt. It’s not a good sign when my feet hurt two days into a European Adventure…
Nick and I grabbed some lunch at the Pizza Express, I went and got a mani in the mall next door while he looked at nerd stuff, and then we found ourselves speeding back to Edinburgh so content with the day.
On our way to dinner we stopped by the Waterstone’s. I think Waterstone’s is my favorite bookstore in the WORLD. The atmosphere is lovely, and they’re really good at curating different books throughout store as recommendations to read.
After spending way too much money there, we headed to dinner at this delicious Thai restaurant that had an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle on the fourth floor. It was nice way to soak up our last night in Scotland.
Another lovely day in Europe. Definitely my favorite day on the trip so far!
UP NEXT: Prague! A new city, a new language, a new currency.