With breakfast four hours previous, it was a happy group of whisky tasting tourists who loaded the bus headed for the next stop, St. Andrews. Our route was in the lowlands now so the mountainous sights from the day before and as we made our way to Pitlochry were literally behind us.
When I traced our route on Google Earth it is southeast with numerous intersecting roads and crossings of The River Tay which empties into the Firth of Tay. We crossed the Firth on the Tay Road Bridge out of Dundee, all specifics unknown to me at the time.
As we passed through Dundee, Kevin pointed out the HMS Unicorn, the oldest ship in Scotland and the oldest floating ship in the United Kingdom. He also commented it sits next to what he considered to be one of the ugliest buildings in Scotland, the V&A Museum of Design, but he did acknowledge there are many who disagree. I believe the consensus on our tour bus was with Kevin!
From Dundee it was A92 to A91, the road that took us into Saint Andrews. Thinking back about being there it felt much like an island because there was water everywhere. And I guess that's a reasonable feeling, and I didn't know then, because it's on a peninsula, surrounded by the North Sea.
During the 60s-70s*, on farmland in the Midwest, the US Department of Agriculture removed the majority of trees and hedgerows. (*"Farm more land they said." Except those trees were part of the balance of nature and huge amounts of topsoil was lost.) Many places along that drive we couldn't see what we were in the midst of because thick hedges lined the road. We experienced that a lot in both countries and, for me, it really added to the "mystery" of the adventure. There was one "big reveal" after another.
Once in Saint Andrews we drove narrow streets and took in the wonder of the very old buildings, most three and four stories high, rising up on both sides, constricting the view greatly. I didn't even think about it at the time, I was so fascinated looking at the architecture of the buildings. Later in the day, we would see similar looking structures in Edinburgh.
Undoubtedly there are more modern areas in St. Andrews; but we were primarily in the downtown which is very old. Very easy walking there, so we were dropped by our Driver, Pat, with a few hours to explore.
It was early afternoon, the first thing on everyone's agenda was to find food. Wendy and I walked with a few other folks and ended up in a little place called Dervish on Bell Street. Their specialty is Turkish but they are very accommodating to the undoubted hordes of tourists that come through and serve pretty much everything. It was good food and we had a fun time being able to visit with some of the other travelers in our group.
Once fed, my sister and I headed out on a mission to the the area closest to the beach. So we went from Bell Street, crossed Market Street, took Greyfrier's Garden to A91, crossed, jogged a little to the right and then left down Murray Park street which dead ended on The Scores Drive. At that point we could see beach and water to the east and The Old Course of the St. Andrews Golf Club. (The new area was further away in the direction we came in.) At the corner of The Scores Drive and Golf Place is the large iconic building, Hamilton Grand, built in 1895, it was the first building in Scotland to have a pneumatic elevator, as well as the first hotel in Scotland to have hot and cold water running to every room. Be sure to check it out in the Links for this blog (below).
The sky had become very overcast and as we neared the water the temperature dropped as the wind increased. My layers and raincoat were doing okay but my head was uncovered with my ears stinging from the chill.
We made our way past the Golf Shop to the British Golf Museum solely to visit the gift shop in search of something to cover my ears. It was there I purchased my souvenir of Scotland, a beautiful soft pure new wool plaid scarf in Scottish purple heather colors that look perfect with my coat. Usually I can't do wool right next to my skin but something about either the type of wool or the way it was made it worked. Was a really happy purchase as we were quite enjoying our walking tour and wanted to stay outside.
Wendy and I had also decided that since our family has so much Celtic heritage (son, wife, grandchildren), we would do our Christmas shopping during the trip. My son is a croquet player, the real stuff not the backyard version. We were hoping to encounter something related to croquet but decided that a white ball cap (croquet players wear white) with the Saint Andrews Golf Club crest would be pretty cool as well. Later we were very glad we made a purchase there because even though Ireland is where croquet began, no croquet interaction while there.
We didn't go to the University even though it was very close by. Not being a Royal watcher, I didn't learn until later Wills and Kate began their relationship when they were both in school there. That would not have influenced my desire to see the University however. LOL.
Even though very chilly, it was a fun time walking around and taking in Saint Andrews. All too soon it was time to head back to our meeting point for the bus. Waiting, we were sitting next to what looks like something that in America would be torn down. As it turns out it is the remains of Black Friars Chapel, built in the 1520s.
I've now spent a fair amount of time traversing St. Andrews on Google Earth whose street views were mostly done on a sunny day. People in the photos are wearing clothes indicating a much warmer time of the year. Amazing how even though I know what it was like when we were there, seeing those visuals I feel like I've been there during other seasons too. My plan is to do that and return someday, but I don't know about those midges!