Thursday, September 29th early morning mist, then sun came out
We arrived in Stirling at rush hour - not good planning - and had a harrowing drive thru many round-abouts (who invented them and why do they think that they are safe???) But after a few wrong turns, we found our B&B, the White House, and yes it is white. Drove 5 minutes to the downtown area. Very modern downtown with a North American type mall right in the middle of the downtown, so even after 6pm there are loads of people in the streets. We found a parking spot one block away from the downtown pedestrian streets. Walked around for awhile then had supper at ‘The Filling Station’, again a very North American feel to the place, with lots of people (decorated with old gas station decor and car stuff). Observation: girls in Stirling are quite freaky - pink hair and all - our waitress tonight had white blonde dread locks pulled back into 2 pigtails. Also girls wear their skirts or slacks very low on the hip, very odd and lots of high boots - reminds me of the 60's.
Friday September 30th cloudy but dry
Had a good breakfast in a very nice sun room. Got on the Stirling city sightseeing tour and first went to Stirling Castle. Very impressive structure dating back to the 11th century. It was a strategic military key to the kingdom, particularly during the 13th and 14th century Wars of Independence. Then it was a royal residence of many of the Stuart monarchs. It is currently being stripped down (excavated) to its original state and being restored to how it was in the 16th century. They have completed the Great Hall, covered with beautiful tapestries and very well restored. Beautiful wood ceilings. Gorgeous views of the town of Stirling but rather misty - could see the Wallace monument on the hill - but could not take good pictures due to the mist.
From there we walked through Old Town - The Church of the Holy Rude has been Stirling's principal church for 500 years and was the site of the crowning of King James VI in 1567. the nave and the tower date back to 1456-70.
The Old TownJail was fun - had an actor who pretended to be a number of characters, an old guard, a prison inspector, and an escaped prisoner. Very good. It depicted 19th century Victorian prison life. Noticed that many convicts were ‘transported’ to the colonies of America or Australia for rather minor offences like stealing a hen got you 7 yrs of transportation.
Next we went to the National Wallace monument. Had to walk about ½ mile straight uphill - very difficult - like walking up the camp hill about 10 times! Then we had a short rest, then had to climb the 246 stairs to the top. This impressive tower commemorates Scotland's greatest freedom fighter, William Wallace (1267-1305) who was instrumental in defeating the English in the battle of Stirling Bridge. Fortunately the tower had 4 levels so no more than 70 stairs at a time! First level had Wallace’s sword.
Here is Brian beside Wallace's famous double-handed broadsword.
Other levels had all the history of the time including a very innovative movie of sorts with the face of Wallace’s statue seeming to talk to you. The very top had gorgeous views of the city - very, very windy.
The walk down the stairs and down the walk were much easier. Well worth the effort tho.
Then drove to Glasgow. Unfortunately we were too late to visit Bannock Burn - we went thru the town but never found the monument honoring the battle. Found our B&B in Glasgow on Great Western Road - on the west side near the University of Glasgow. We have an attic room, very small, but we have free internet access and free DVD movies. We walked along Byres St - very busy with lots of shops and restaurants and art galleries and antique shops. Very alive! Had a great meal at a Scottish restaurant - I had fisherman’s pie and Brian had steak pie.
Saturday, October 1st blue skies, sunny 58 degrees
I can’t believe it is October already. After a hardy breakfast this morning we caught the City Sightseeing Bus on University and Byres St. Took the full tour around Glasgow. There are so many beautiful old buildings and even some unusual modern ones. Took many pictures.
University of Glasgow
Different architectural designs of apartment buildings.
Kelvington Art Gallery
Glasgow Science Centre
Gallery of Modern Art
Then started walking around downtown. Buchanan street was amazing. There were millions of Glasgowians walking up and down the streets with a bagpiper and accompanying drummer on one corner, a trio of accordion and guitar players on another and a fire eater on another! Kids had balloons. There was a full scale mall inside the old buildings called Buchanan Gallery. There was another mall of strictly jewelry stores called Argyle Place (Patty would love it). One store was Laing Jewelers established in 1850. We walked and walked but bought nothing.
We then hopped the bus up to the University of Glasgow. We walked around the main building with the tall spire, the one that dominates the skyline of Glasgow. Also walked thru the chapel area thru a museum.
Then walked back to our B&B thru Ashley Place - a really quaint area with antique shops and art galleries and restaurant too pricey for us. Picked up our laundry that we had dropped off this morning (so nice to have someone else do it for you) then rested in our room. Actually Brian rested while I made reservations on the internet for our ferry to Belfast on Monday morning. Then we walked to the Big Blue restaurant, 3 stories down, but was really nice, waitress was from Canada (BC), shared a pizza & had desserts.
Sunday, October 2
Had a good breakfast at the Bellmore Guest House. Glasgow was a very exciting city. I enjoyed our stay here more than I expected. Took a scenic route to Stranraer with a stop at Troon where we walked on the beach and I saved some shells since the tide was out. The scenery was rolling hills and farmland, very pretty. Got to Stranraer by 1:30, then walked around the town until 2:15, checked into our hotel, very nice B&B. Then took a ride to the west side of this peninsula to a place called Port Patrick, very pretty port town with pastel colored homes along the harbor and a rocky coastline. There was a coast guard station with a plaque commemorating the lives lost when they tried to save the people from drowning on the Princess Victoria in 1953, I guess a large number of people perished.
Then went further south to the Mull of Galloway, the most southern tip of Scotland. Since we had been to the most northern tip we thought it appropriate to go to the most southerly as well. It was quite a ride, the end of which was a single lane road with cows all over the place. It had a light house at the end and a visitor centre where we watched a short movie about the nature reserve here where birds migrate to and from during the year. At this time of the year very few birds are there but the cliffs were beautiful. There was a plaque showing where Belfast could be seen as well as Northern Wales and the hills of the Highlands. We couldn’t see much on this day.
We then returned to Stranraer and found the Bay House, a rather fancy place but we decided to splurge on our last night in Scotland. We had a lovely table with a beautiful view of the water, with it at low tide. There was beautiful Scottish music playing, very nice last night here in bonnie old Scotland.