Friday, October 19, 2012

Scottish Parliament and St. Andrews

This morning we let ourselves sleep in a bit.  Reuben had a shower and we finagled a way so that quite a bit less water got on the floor including jamming a hand towel into the crack between the glass and the top of the tub.  We had some leftovers from dinner as our breakfast and were on our way.

We had originally planned to spend the whole of Saturday on St. Andrews but since the Scottish Parliament building is not open on Sunday and we didn't want to go to St. Andrews on Sunday, we had to do both today.

We had a bit of trouble finding our connecting bus to get to the Parliament from downtown so we ended up walking the whole way there.  The confusion is caused by the major roadwork taking place in the centre of Edinburgh.  They are building a network for a tram system so they are digging up all the roads and the buses have to constantly change their route downtown to go around it.

When we arrived at the Parliament building a tour had just started and since it was free we decided to join the tour.  It was both informative and interesting.  This latest iteration of the Scottish Parliament only came into existence in 1998 and Scotland still has MPs in the British parliament in London.  The building was designed by a Spanish architect and built in 2004.  It's very modern and slick compared to Ottawa's neo-gothic parliament.

We had checked with the concierge and she had told us where to go to catch a bus to St Andrews.  When we bought our ticket they told us we had to catch the bus across the square because of the road work so we found the bus stop without too much trouble but we had forgotten to ask what time the bus departed.  We ended up waiting for 45 minutes so that was a bit of a waste of time.  We also were under the impression that the trip would only take an hour and it actually took 1 hr and 40 minutes.

The trip was uneventful and when we arrived in St. Andrews we calculated that we could only stay for 3.5 hours so that we could catch the last bus back to Edinburgh at 7:00pm.  When it was all said and done it was actually the perfect amount of time to explore St. Andrews.  First stop was a golf store so that we could buy my dad a ball marker from the Old Course.  Then we grabbed a free tourist map and went to explore.  We found the church where John Knox preached during the Reformation.  It was right in the centre of the town.  We didn't get to go inside. Then we happened upon a ruined cathedral that was pretty dramatic with the sea in the background.  We wandered along the shore and in and around the cathedral.  Somehow, we found an entrance into the cathedral and afterwards realized we were supposed to pay to get in.  Oh well, it was closing up anyway so we only spent about 10 minutes walking around.  

Next we walked to a ruined castle but it was closed already so we could just see it from the fence.  Then we wandered through the streets a bit and ended up having dinner at Pizza Express.  We saw Pizza Express franchises everywhere throughout England and Scotland so we thought we should try it out.  It is an upscale pizza place.  We shared a delicious mushroom bruschetta for starters and a prosciutto, tomato and arugula pizza.  It was very good and a nice atmosphere (except for the screaming kid at the next table) to wind down our busy day.

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