I wanted to sleep in after that day of nonstop whisky on Islay, but knew I didn’t have the luxury. Up before 9 am for breakfast, I found it to be quite ordinary breakfast with a Scottish twist of haggis and black pudding. Though we were in a castle, I guess my expectation of a kitchen wench coming out, haphazardly spilling the tray of ale she carried, was a bit too far fetched.
I couldn’t wait to retrace Braveheart in Scotland and relive the history through the actual places. The park was only a five-minute drive and after we arrived, I found I was the only one interested in climbing up the 246 steps to the top of the tower. As everyone was waiting for me, not only did I have to climb the stairs, I had to SPRINT up them three at a time!
I originally thought the monument was a tower recently built, but surprisingly it was constructed in 1869 in Victorian Gothic style. Throughout the different floors they had three exhibitions: Wallace’s life story, the Hall of Heroes where they displayed statues of famous Scots, and the building of the monument.
The only real item of interest is Wallace’s supposed original sword. Legend says that the original hilt was made from the dried skin of English commander Hugh Cressingham from the Battle of Stirling!
The castle was quite impressive and a well-run attraction. They provide the earpiece self tours included with your ticket and plenty of guides dressed in the style of the period to give a feel of the life in the castle during the time of Scottish kings.
Outside we noticed a CCTV crew there filming for Olympics footage. We had a brief chat because… well, we were the only Asians around.
We also shocked a guide, when purchasing our entrance tickets.
Will you be going to see any other castles?
Yes, we’re going to Edinburgh.
If you go within three days you can use this ticket. When are you going?
I mean when are you going to Edinburgh?
Blank stare… I guess not too many people do both Stirling and Edinburgh in the same afternoon.
After touring through the whole castle, we were on our way to Edinburgh.
We passed through Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce let the Scottish rebels to victory and Falkirk where Wallace was defeated by the English. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom. – Braveheart
The second largest city in Scotland and the capital, Edinburg was like any large European city. We drove straight to the historic center where the castle was. Old Town was beautiful with small cobblestone streets and plenty of medieval buildings. Edinburgh Castle was our destination.
At the entrance we saw the seating being prepared for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a yearly military musical performance. Too bad we were going to miss it!
We skipped the line as we had our tickets from Stirling and did the tour throughout the Castle.
I also went through the National War Museum, which is located on the castle grounds.
After a few hours we concurred the castle and went around the Old Town. I stopped in for the Scotch Whisky Experience with the biggest whisky collection in the world.
I also went into the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibit. Talk about a tourist trap. The mill was manned by machined manikins that creaked and rattled as the mechanics forced them to “weave” on non-functioning looms with no thread.
That was Edinburgh in a few hours.
We wanted to see one last castle before the day’s end so we drove to the tiny coastal town of East Lothian. Our fourth castle of the day was unfortunately closed when we arrived, but that didn’t stop us! Hopping over the car gate we walked about a mile until we saw the castle.
After our brief visit we were on a mission to find a delicious restaurant. We ended up in the cute seaside town of Eyemouth and found a gem of a restaurant. Churches Hotel & Seafood Restaurant was run by a very friendly couple who really took pride in details, from the daily fresh fish to the presentation and interior decoration, everything was wonderful. They even had the scallops delivered from the west of Scotland because they were hand-picked instead of trawled (which damages the sea floor and ecosystem).
After a filling meal, we had to brace ourselves for a drive to our hotel north of York.
Again arriving past midnight, our hotel reception’s computers were down so they couldn’t confirm our reservation. Then when trying to find us a room the ended up putting us in unmade rooms! I couldn’t believe it. The night ended with me walking with the staff to check each room to see which had been made up so we could take one! Ridiculous but looking back at the situation I can only laugh!
Scotland was amazing, I look forward to going back one day!
Tomorrow we were off to York then London!