Since the tour of the St. Andrews Links, which I discussed in my previous blog, was only one hour long, I still had plenty of time to check out the surroundings. And so I did. I meandered down to the beach, climbing on the rocks that connected the beach and golf course. It was obvious the beach was very much a part of the golf course experience as there were plenty of people walking it.
After walking around the beach, I took the slippery way around to the edge of the course into town where the University of St. Andrews lay. It was a great introduction into the town. The old buildings and beautiful flowers and trees welcomed me on. I was already in love with the town.
I took a corner down the side of the University of St. Andrews Cathedral and could hear the sound of children playing. It was a festival of some kind. I continued walking and strolled onto a busy main street. More busy with pedestrians than cars. There were pubs, restaurants, shops, and everything in between. To my right was a lovely little fountain that cars and people had to move around. I ventured to my left and walked toward more shops. I walked through side streets and alleys, taking photos and getting a feel for the town.
As I moved about in multiple squares that wound up in a circle leading back to where I started, I saw a broken down wall that caught my eye. I walked toward it. It would be the beginning of some incredible sights.
THE RUINS OF ST. ANDREWS CATHEDRAL
I walked to the wall and found the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral—not the university. They were nestled along the edge of the coastline with its towers and walls overlooking the blue waters. It was an incredible site to see. Within the walls of the cathedral were tombstones from long ago.
I walked along the edges of the walls. Took photos of the towers and the coastline and the tombstones. I scoured, it felt like, every inch of the ruins. I was enamored with it.
EXITING THE RUINS
After quite a spell, I was feeling very hungry. As I walked out of the ruins, I was drawn by several other photo opportunities, including a little pass-through for cars and a garden of one of the university deans. This only forced me to put off eating even longer.
I finally found a spot called Innis and Gunn, which is also a local brewery. I walked upstairs to sit on the balcony that overlooked the cathedral of the University of St. Andrews—not the ruins.
When I walked into the pub, there were a bunch of young men dressed in kilts. The young women were in nice gowns. I felt overdressed (sarcasm). This is one of the main reasons I scooted up to the second floor.
I ordered a pint and a burger and sat close to a couple who were enjoying the view as well. We talked about what was going on across the street. It was a wedding, and apparently a very nice one as they were having it inside the cathedral. I suggested it might be a royal wedding and they agreed that it might be. Imagine that. Me getting to view part of a royal wedding on my one day in St. Andrews.
I took several photos and then finally took it easy and began on my burger and beer and continued the conversation. They were both really nice and we had some good laughs before they had to leave. They were from a little town north of Glasgow. They were on a holiday as well. It was called September Holiday. I asked if it had an actual name, and they said that was it. I asked if they had any holidays with actual names and they said no, aside from Christmas. He said they get a holiday for the Queen’s birthday, which is celebrated twice a year. I can’t remember if the holiday is for the actual birthday or the made-up date. I don’t think he knew either.
Once they left, I finished my meal and got back to touring St. Andrews. I still had a few more hours left.
RETURNING TO THE LINKS
I walked back to the golf course and went to the golf shop before they closed for the day. I love it and hate it when there are so many things I want to buy. I grabbed a couple of caps and walked out to the course to go get a few shots of some of the greens.
After spending some time walking only a small portion of the course, my legs began to ache and I was aching for some coffee to keep me on my feet. I walked back to the town and went inside a Starbucks (have to do it at least once—I went to one in South Korea, so why not Scotland?). With a coffee in my hand, I sat down on a bench that overlooked the cobblestone street. I sat for a while stretching my legs and sipping my brew, when I looked down and realized I didn’t have my shopping bag. Crap! I jumped up and decided to retrace my steps. First stop was Starbucks. Lo and behold, I had left the bag there. All was right with the world.
I returned to my seat, finished my coffee, and let the time pass me by.
KEYS BAR: A TRUE ST. ANDREWS PUB
Before leaving St. Andrews, I wanted to get a real feel for the people of the town. There’s no better way to do that than to visit the local pub. I went into The Keys Bar. I actually walked by it and looked through the open door and saw how loud and packed it was. It looked like a pub for locals. The perfect place.
It had all the atmosphere a tourist could want. It was jam-packed, loud, crowded, full of locals shouting words and phrases I could hardly understand. It was a slice of pub heaven for me. It was such an authentic experience. And this wasn’t a bar with a bunch of young people trying their best to get drunk. It was predominantly a 50-and-up crowd. You could tell it was full of old friends, which honestly was a bit heartwarming.
I finished my pint and made my way to the bus station to get back to the train. It had been a wonderful day in St. Andrews. Now if I could just stop screwing up these train rides.