Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stirling

  • Stirling is the most livable city I’ve been to in Great Britain.  Why?  Well, it’s pretty much the perfect size for a city.  Big enough to have a supermarket with all the things you need and small enough to be able to see nature all around it.
  • During my first twenty minutes of walking around, I headed up a hill in the center of town which lead me along a grassy path, past an old beheading stone, up to the top of the hill where I had a nice view of the town, Stirling Castle, the Highlands, and the William Wallace Memorial.  Also, I saw about a dozen bunnies hopping around on this short walk – betcha can’t find that in London.
  • Despite all this awesomeness in the city itself, the people at the hostel made it an even better experience.  After only three days I felt like I was a part of the hostel family – a group of about six people who worked there.  It was cool to see how they shared food and drinks without keeping track of who had given whom what.  In the time I was there I was offered cider, a beer and some single malt scotch.
  • I bought a 12 year Glennfiddich while I was there.  I was going to get some wine but then I remembered where I was.  I hit it off with the hostel manager when I asked him about how the locals drank Scotch because he was really into respecting local customs as well.  At one point I strayed from local customs a bit and mixed it with some peppermint tea after an English girl gave me the idea – it turned out quite well actually.  Who knew England and Scotland could mix so well together.
  • I talked quite a bit with the hostel manager who said the best time of his life was running the bulls in Pamplona.  It was a spur of the moment decision but he was emphatic about it being the absolute highlight of his life and he really didn’t think anything would ever top it.  On his run, he almost got sandwiched between three huge bulls when the path narrowed right before the arena and once he was in there, he tried to touch one of the smaller bulls but it charged him and flung him into the air.  He said he wouldn’t do it again.  Sounds a bit risky to me.  We’ll see.
  • I’m writing about the people I meet a lot more than the history of the places I visit as compared to the US road trip.  I don’t know if it’s as interesting, but it seems like the right thing to do since history can be read about in lots of places.  If you guys want more history let me know because I’m still going to plenty of museums.
  • Speaking of “history”.  Ever seen the movie Braveheart?  Some of the battles in that movie happened right around the city.  Stirling Castle was the site of many clashes between England and Scotland because this island narrows a lot at Stirling so it’s easier to defend Scotland from here.  The tour guide pretty much said most of the things that happened in the movie Braveheart weren’t factual, but I’m blocking that out of my memory.
  • On Friday I wanted to hear some local music so asked about where I should go at the front desk.  I was pointed to a place that ended up being an open mic night.  The girl playing was very good actually.  It was so funny to hear her speak Scottish in between songs and then switch to the (usually) American accent during the songs.  I was joined by three people who worked at the hostel later.  I had ordered a local ale that was served warm and a Canadian girl wanted to try it.  I gave her some and she almost spit it out.  Then I tried her cider and was like, “What is this apple juice?”
  • One evening there were two Canadian brothers and two girls from Australia talking.  One of the brothers was really into one of the Aussis.  I walked by them later and the other brother had just come back from the bathroom and said to his brother who was still talking to the girls, “Hey man,  I know this sounds kind of weird but there’s something really cool in the bathroom you need to check out.”  Best wingman ever.
  • Most people here roll their own cigarettes from bags of tobacco that say “SMOKING KILLS” on them.  Apparently cigarettes are extremely expensive here.
  • The William Wallace Memorial is actually a mile or two from the city, and most people are either content with seeing it from a distance or take a bus, but I’m nuts so I decided to run there.  The views from up there were well worth it.
  • On my last night I was talked into playing a drinking game at the hostel.  I felt like I was in college again.  There were about twelve people playing including Australians, English, a handsome American, Canadians, French and an Italian girl.  It was quite interesting.

View of Stirling from William Wallace Monument


William Wallace Monument

William Wallace Monument



View from Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Robert the Bruce!


Stirling

Chicken quesidillas, refried beans, milk in a Guiness glass and Glenfiddich


Beheading stone, cannons and Stirling

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ryan,
I agree with you that history is available in various forms (books, television, etc.), but the people you meet will probably be what you remember most fondly. You're doing a great job - posting pictures that display the history and beauty, and stories about the fellow adventurers and others. I felt that your comment about communal shower rooms was directed to me, but that may be a bit egotistical on my part. With luck you will encounter a true unisex episode on the continent.
Cheerio,
Mr. M
Lynchburg

David T. Macknet said...

Had a taxi driver accidentally take me past the cannons & the beheading stone today. Glad to find your description of them, and also glad that you used the word, "whom." Awesome, and well done.

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