Over the past few years I've come to realize that I love re-visiting places I've traveled to almost as much (and maybe sometimes a little bit more) as I love visiting someplace new. There's something special, insightful, and nostalgic about re-entering a city after a while to discover the ways in which you've both changed or remained the same. I also absolutely love introducing people I love to the places I've been, and this was exactly what I had the blessing of doing with my family in Scotland. I was so excited to introduce them to Edinburgh, and I also knew that I had to take them up to St Andrews for a day sometime during our trip. When I first visited St Andrews I was instantly drawn to this pristine little seaside city that exists primarily as an aloof and prestigious university town. All of this changes when the world of golf descends on this corner of Scotland for the Open Championship, which has been played at St Andrews more than 27 times, thus designating it "The Home of Golf." Though it is by no means a major passion for either of them, my parents have been recreational golfers for years. Our trip to St Andrews, though, confirmed that for golfers of any degree there is truly something special about this place. When we rounded the corner towards The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews I could see my dad's excitement mounting. Once we made it to the links we all just had to stand there and soak it in for a few minutes.
We OF COURSE had to hop over to the beach to come face-to-face with that magnificent opening sequence from Chariots of Fire...
Something that I hadn't yet done was tour St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle. The cathedral was a pretttyyyyy breathtaking. This was once the largest church in Scotland, and was the last structure of its size to be built for 600 years. Today the substantial remains of the cathedral tell the story of an abandoned religion left to crumble. In 1559, Scottish clergyman and leader of the Protestant Reformation John Knox delivered such a fiery and moving sermon in St Andrews parish church that the cathedral was cleansed and ultimately abandoned two years later. After being replaced by a parish church as the chief place of worship, this former headquarters of the Scottish Church was left to fall into ruin.
A short walk from the cathedral, St Andrews Castle is another impressive landmark that similarly bears the scars of wars, harsh Scottish weather, and sieges. As the Scots love their grim history, the museum docent was quick to advise us to take a look at the "bottle dungeon," which I didn't snag a picture of but oh boy does it bear mentioning. This prison was an airless pit carved into the rock the castle was built upon. Local miscreants would be lowered into the cell with no hope of escape, light, or fresh air. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.
With that said, here are some pictures of our bright, sunshine-y day at St Andrews Castle ;-)
Seriously, I can't believe how blessed we were by such amazing weather in Scotland!