Since I was only going to be in Scotland for four full days, and Dani had classes and such, our options for day trips were pretty limited. As much as I would have loved to go to Inverness, Isle of Skye or Glasgow, time didn't allow and I wasn't so sad about just having to visit Scotland again. We decided on St. Andrews, a seaside golf town recommended by a friend of mine in Nashville.
Just a couple hours train ride away, we headed to the station in the morning to purchase tickets to Leuchars with destination St. Andrews, and sat through hills and hills and green the likes of which I'd not seen in ages until we fell asleep. Waking in perfect time to be coherent before our bus to the city center, we boarded and found ourselves among the buildings of a baby Edinburgh.
When Google recommendations let us down, we wandered until we found the Cottage Kitchen, a busy and adorable café that had us considering coming back later in the day for dessert. Smushed up by the heater until the place thinned out, we switched to a bigger table to accommodate our massive breakfast and sipped our espresso like regulars.
Heading on from breakfast, we started what would be the first of many, many long walks during this day. Taking pictures as we went, you can see Dani succeeded in getting a few poses in, and making me look, well... normal.
We were headed toward St. Andrews Cathedral, some Roman Catholic ruins that date back to the 1100s. Anyone who says exploring old graveyards is odd has never done it before. So we walked through the ruins, amazed at the sheer size of them. When we'd finally had enough of looking at old graves, it was perfectly sunny and--we thought, a great time to head to the shore.
Our sunny morning had turned to a grey misty fog before we knew it. I was less than pleased, but finally accepting that if I wanted to see Scotland in real life, I wanted it's true, moody colors as well. Being on the beach in the winter rain is also a pretty contrasty moment, both chilling and peaceful. I tried to soak it all up but all I got was waterlogged from all the moisture in the air. When it truly started to rain, we headed toward the residential, wharfish area about a kilometer down, walking by tugboats and what I can only describe as convenience stores for fishermen and captains.
Then, we walked. I mean. Walked. for at least six kilometers. Maybe ten. We passed the town again, at least three gold courses, and walked along the highway for one of the six. We finally emerged from the fog (was it a physical fog now, or was it in our heads, I have no idea) and stumbled into Balgove Larder Farm Shop, a fairytale of a restaurant.
Balgove greeted it's guests with pastures of goats and sheep, then welcomed them inside to an extensive sundry goods, wine and spirits, cheese/meats/spreads and paper goods store. It took all that was in me not to spend all my money here, and I'm glad I refrained, since I found the gin I'd been eyeing at a place in the states a few weeks later and picked up a bottle for some friends in Nashville. We took a breather at the cafe for tea and scones and hoped that by the time we got out the sun would be with us again.
Turns out we were right, and the sun was peeking back out when we left for a beautiful but subtle golden hour, and we followed the sunset as we walked (the long long road) back to town. Instead of walking the entire way at once, we stopped for a drink at the Old Course (this is a very important gold course)'s Jigger Inn. St. Andrews is home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and many golfers worldwide play here to check it off their bucket list. As we left the inn, the sunset across the courses left everything around bathed in an orange glow, a nice redemption of our earlier misty run across the course.
Starving, I truly can't remember where we stopped to get some sustenance, but I do remember having chips (fries) and sweet potato fries. While we were back in town, iPhone batteries dying, we ducked into Mitchell's Deli and the kind bartenders let us use a couple outlets behind the bar. Mitchell's was a gem, one we had barely seen from the outside for lack of battery panic. The place has a certain je ne sais quoi about it, a farm to table hole-in-the-wall that turns out to be your next trendy favorite. We tried a couple gin & tonics with that Eden Mill gin we'd passed up earlier and when Dani's phone was no longer in the red we checked to make sure we wouldn't miss the bus back to the train.
As far as day trips go, this one was indicatively Scotland. For a place that neither Dani nor I knew anything about, I'd say it was a success. If you know me at all you know it's in my blood to research a place fully to make the most of my time, but this flying by the seat of our pants thing turned out pretty great. A little relaxing, a little (or a lotta) walking. Might have been good if I'd ever played golf, though.