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Stirling Castle

Ø July 30 Stirling (Tuesday) More photos can be found here.

Heading downstairs about 9 for breakfast, we were greeted by a cold buffet on the bar. Berries, banana, tea and pain au chocolat (aka chocolate croissant for those of you who haven’t had the superior French version.) After returning to the room to collect journals, backpacks and cameras, we headed to #Glasgow Queen Street Station and caught the half-hour train ride to #Stirling. Using Maps, we climbed up Broad Street hill, passing the Church of the Holy Rude on our way to the castle. We presented out Historic Scotland passes and gained access into the compound. A tour was imminent, so we spent time perusing the shop and wandering the yard under the palace walls. Steve was our guide, and I found his patter to probably be pretty much script with a few personal anecdotes and observations. Not as crowded as Edinburgh, one got a better picture of life in the castle and the history which took place there.

Perfect weather, we visited the Great Hall, the Great Kitchen, the Chapel Royal and some of the Palace. From the eastern wall lined with black cannon, we could see the Wallace Monument, a mile and a half away across the winding River Forth. These walls dropped precipitously. Continuing north, we visited the Nether Bailey, the building used for exhibitions, and had been used when weaving copies of the Unicorn Tapestries. In the Great Hall, the seats of the kings and queens were quite popular with our fellow tourists, never being empty long enough for an unoccupied shot. The chapel is a big bright empty room with a communion table set at south end.

In the Palace, the exhibit cases contained many of the carved wooded medallions which had been gaily painted and exhibited on the ceiling of the dining hall. These included many historic and court figures; they gave real time examples of attire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Moving from room to room within the palace, murals adorn walls, armor stood guard, and these huge spaces never felt filled. A royal bedroom was perhaps the most furnished room we saw.

The throne room has been furnished with a newly woven version of the blue #UnicornTapestries (the originals are at The Cloisters, a medieval museum in upper Manhattan, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.) The unicorn is the symbol of Scotland, and we saw many representations throughout the castle grounds. While there were lots to see, I probably only took 150 pictures.

Leaving the castle, we stopped at the Holy Rude church. A fifteenth century Gothic stone Church of Scotland, it is the only church other than Westminster Abbey where a coronation has taken place: James VI of Scotland was an infant and crowned in 1567; he became James I of Britain on the death of Elizabeth I. The church is known for brilliant stained-glass windows. We continued down the hill toward the station, with the intention of doing a roundtrip bus journey out to the Wallace Memorial. Our timing was poor, as we had missed one trip by ten minutes, and the next would be an hour. We looked at the pedestrian suspension bridge over the rail yard and discussed eating. Nothing appetizing was within strolling distance, so we opted to get on one of the frequent trains back to Glasgow.

We had seats and decided to shop a bit on getting to the city. Into Primark, we split up while I found a small roll-on suitcase to handle my heavier items, as I knew I wouldn’t get the same overweight grace from Delta as I was flying Economy Plus. With some time to spare before our rendezvous, I headed upstairs and picked up some no-show socks and a few more £2 t-shirts. We returned to Rab Ha’s where I dumped my stuff and headed to the bar for another Thistle ale.

Just hanging at the bar, we decided about 7 to have dinner when we were able to move from the bar to a table. We split a starter, the moules marinière which we’d seen the previous night at another table. Absolutely superb! For my main the Thai salmon with rice. I switched my ale to an Over Easy. The salmon was awesome, a good creamy curry. The place was full, with all the tables filled. Mandra had Cullen skink, a smoked haddock chowder that she also enjoyed.

Food done, but beer still in the glass, we moved to the bar to free up the table for a foursome from Essen. I stayed at the bar after Mandra headed upstairs. The place slowly began to empty, and I called for a nightcap, trying a Caul Ida, a single malt from Isley which was very peaty. Not one I’d go back to. Only 175 photos to upload, the online portion of the evening went off without a hitch. And not quite two sides of pages in the journal.

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