Mike McKay checks in from WDAV’s Scotland Tour.
Following a fabulous four days in the Highlands, our WDAV tour group headed back to Edinburgh. Before settling back in to this great city, though, we had a stop of several hours in that “holy land”-type city for golfers, St. Andrews. It’s indeed home base for the sport, and those in the group who are golfers felt a special kind of completion at seeing the historic site for the first time (or in the case of one tour member who had played at St. Andrews, the second).
What we learned, though, is that there’s so much more to St. Andrews than just the golf connection …
as seems to be the norm in Scotland, it’s steeped in history and legend, and we had ample time to walk through the town center. Especailly notable were the ruins of the cathedral and abbey that are the oldest in the country, and the University of St. Andrews, which of course has been the educational home of Britain’s young princes. St. Andrews is sufficiently compact that all these locations were within easy walking distance, and the group made the best of that situation.
We proceeded to Edinburgh not on one of the clean, quick-moving freeways on which we’ve done much of our driving, but rather on The Coast of Fife tour, which took us through several charming coastal towns and villages. Fife is interesting in that it’s referred to on road signs as The Kingdom of Fife, and none of the other regions of the country we’ve visited seems to have that royal designation.
I wrote earlier in the trip about the charms of Edinburgh, so I won’t belabor that point, but I do want to mention one thing the group has agreed on which I think has been a surprise to many of us: the food in Scotland–not just in Edinburgh, but in all the places we’ve been–has been very, very good. It may be that this country’s cuisine has been a bit tarred by the brush that’s so often applied to England’s food, and it shouldn’t be. We’ve had excellent meals on the various restaurants the group members have sampled, and the dinners at our hotel in Pitlochry drew high praise. As I said, a surprise, and a nice one…
Our folks are using today and tomorrow to sample more of the performances that are part of the International Festival and Fringe Festival here. Yesterday was fun, because as we got back to the city we drove by what’s called Sunday at the Fringe, and several hundred thousand people were gathered at a site called The Meadows to enjoy many of the performances that make up the Fringe. The diversity of the offerings, and of the folks who do the offering, is immense, so there’s so much to choose from that the challenge is narrowing down the list of options.
On Wednesday we head back to the Carolinas (or in the case of one couple, back to Albany, NY), and most will be ready, I think. There are some in the group who were actually already in Europe before the bulk of the group arrived, and one of our members, Theodore Harvey, is not returning to the States, but will be flying on to Rome for a week.
A quick note about Theodore: he a cellist with the Charlotte Symphony, as well as a composer whose Sonata for Cello and Piano has been featured on Carolina Live (and will be again soon, as I recall). Anyway, Theodore arrived in Edinburgh with the group yesterday, and before his head hit the pillow last night he had been to four different performances. That’s the kind of opportunity that’s available here. And by the way, all of us were awakened in the middle of the night last night by a fire alarm, so several hundred chilled and sleepy people spent an unexpected getting-acquainted time in the courtyard outside our accomodations.
Our best to you, please keep the good thoughts and prayers coming our way, and we’ll be coming your way quite soon…