A Final Farewell

There were many exciting, adventurous days in Scotland during my past month of living here that I never posted about. Now that I’m sitting in the airport with three more hours of waiting to go, I figured I would write about these moments.

About two weeks ago we went to Glasgow for the day. It was probably my least favorite city that I visited in Scotland but still a beautiful one at that. We walked along the River Clyde and poked our heads into a cathedral that was rather modern. Glasgow is huge so we tried our best to navigate the streets and head towards the West End, which we heard was nice. The streets smelled so bad but the people were really friendly! I guess a city can’t have everything. We wandered through a park which had a fountain with a sign that said “do not climb.” Yet a daring little boy was splashing up top while his parents lounged on the grass. I noticed there were lots of kids just kind of wandering around on their own, doing their own thing, while the parents nonchalantly hung out on the grass. It was such a cool vibe in the park! We almost saw a toddler fall into the fountain though so maybe it was slightly too laid back in the park.

We ran into one of our RA’s and one of the summer school interns, who invited us to join them to their favorite little hidden spot in Glasgow. We immediately said yes. They took us to this little hippie tea room behind a building that I never would’ve known was there. We all took our shoes off and crammed into a booth, sitting on pillows. I ordered a pot of the Fairy’s Blood tea which was an exotic  and odd fruity, mint flavor. Next door to the tea room was an adorable record shop and I of course couldn’t resist purchasing an album called “Scotland in Song.” The cover was highland cows grazing in a field so even if the songs suck once I listen to them at home, at least I got a snazzy album cover. The store next door was a vintage used book store with piles upon piles of books reaching up towards the ceiling. It was a wonderfully organized mess. I even spied a cat sleeping at the top of one of the piles.

Other places we visited in Glasgow were the pretty botanic gardens and the beautifully old University of Glasgow (where they originally were gonna film Harry Potter at).

Last week a friend and I finally went inside Stirling Castle! Everyone said it was a must-see in Stirling and I definitely agree. Most of it has been renovated but it was awesome seeing how elaborately decorated it was inside. The bedrooms were set up with furniture to show what it would’ve looked like back in the day. One room had frames hanging down and a box of costumes for kids to dress up – I had too much fun in this room.  I adored the castle’s colorful tapestries, unicorn paintings in every room, and exquisite ceiling art.

We then went to the Wallace monument. After watching Braveheart and understanding more of Scotland’s rich history and the important figure William Wallace, it was really neat going inside his memorial. There were 246 spiral steps to the top and halfway up we were feeling dizzy and like we weren’t even making progress. But finally we made it to the top! The view was phenomenal like always but I particularly really enjoyed it at that monument for some reason.

Thursday me and my group went into town for a full Scottish breakfast, which consists of baked beans, potato bread, sausage, a fried egg, tomato, and black pudding (sheep’s blood mixed with nasty things). Basically all of the things I hate put on one plate. I ordered the American-style pancakes instead and had a lovely meal. I never tried haggis either because I was too grossed out knowing what it was. Sorry Mom.

We went shopping in the Thistles mall, which has pretty much all the same stores that are in the States, yet they have different names. We hung out in the Groundhouse Coffee shop for wifi (seriously, it’s 2015, why is free wifi so impossible to find?!). Later that evening, we had our farewell ceilidh for all the international summer school students. A Scottish band played music all night while we ate finger foods (I had THE YUMMIEST homemade bagel bites, oh my gosh) and did traditional ceilidh dancing. It was here at the event that I realized I was going to be leaving Scotland on Saturday and that very soon I would have to say goodbye to my friends. It’s crazy how close we have all gotten in just 4 weeks and yet they mean so much to me! We’re already discussing when the reunion will be. God blessed me big time with this amazing group of friends who made my trip oh so wonderful.

To end my Scotland adventure with a bang, I decided to take a bus to Aberfoyle (an hour away from campus) with my friends Chelsea and Grace. We spent the day at Go Ape, a tree tops ropes course and zip line place. IT WAS INSANE AND EXHILARATING AND FUN. We had to learn how to use the hooks attached to our harnesses because we would be up in the trees for hours with no supervision. It was nerve wracking at first and Chelsea and I were convinced that we would do it wrong and die. But we made it through the whole experience with no broken bones – just a bunch of bites from the annoying midgies bugs. Being high up in the trees was so thrilling and my heart didn’t stop beating fast until we were back safely on the ground. We had to make our way through tunnels, tight ropes, balance beams, nets, plank bridges, etc. with nothing but meters and meters of space below us and the ground. It was great. The scariest part was definitely the Tarzan Swing, where you jump off and feel like you’re freefalling, before then swinging to the other side into a vertical net. I got Grace to film me because I was planning on doing a Tarzan scream while I jumped off. Well, the actual noise that came out of me was hilarious because I was too scared to even focus on what kind of scream to do. At the end of the adventure you take a zipline back to the starting point. This particular one was actually the longest zipline in the UK! It was so relaxing coasting over the mountains and trees and I wish I could relive that moment over and over again.

Afterwards we had 2 hours to kill before our bus home so we walked down a trail near the Go Ape lodge. We ended up coming across the strangest, most peculiar but lovely place I may have ever seen. Throughout the woods were random areas that were scenes from Alice in Wonderland. There were huge teapots made from painted tires, china tea cups hanging from tree branches, tiny wooden doors nailed to trees, garland made of playing cards, mini stick huts, roses painted red, etc. It was the oddest sight but I absolutely loved it! At one point we were crossing a bridge over a swamp and suddenly freaked out because we could see our reflections in the trees. At closer inspection, we realized there were all these life-size mirror cut-outs of bodies just placed among the trees. Sooo bizarre. The whole place felt like something out of the imagination and was truly a lil hidden gem of Scotland. It was the most perfect day to end Scotland with!

To wrap up this last post about my UK travels, I just have to say that this past month has taught me so much. I met some incredible people, experienced crazy things, and saw many wonderful places. I wasn’t ready at all to leave Scotland or say good bye to my friends, but now it’s time for my next adventure.

Get ready Spain… here I come!

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