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Castles Galore

Hello from the Scottish countryside!

I’ve been taking a few day trips out of Edinburgh, while we still have a rental car, to explore some historic landmarks that are not in this city. My family has a particular interest in castles and medieval history, and, lucky us, Scotland is dotted with castles, both in ruins and newly refurbished.

We drove out past Glasgow to see Doune Castle, a ruin outside of a small town that was also the set of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. The audio tour of the castle was done by Terry Gilliam and was hilarious. We walked around the castle for about an hour, climbing spiral staircases and trying to imagine what the different stone rooms and halls must have looked like when they were full of people.

Later in the week we visited Stirling Castle, which is much larger and has also been renovated to show what different parts of the castle looked like during different periods of inhabitance. This castle is a main tourist attraction, and was full of people. We didn’t have enough to time to see every inch of the castle, like we did in Doune, but we did get a free tour from a volunteer, who was able to explain all of the renovations.

And finally, we also visited Edinburgh Castle! It’s so odd to say that there is a castle four blocks from your university. Then again, every building in Edinburgh is older than any building in California, so there you have it.

Edinburgh Castle is renovated and large, much like Stirling Castle. We were also able to get a free tour by a volunteer, and learned a ton of history. This castle passed back and forth between the English and the Scottish quite often, and sustained several sieges of the city. It’s where Mary, Queen of Scots was born and crowned queen, and where her son was born and baptised. There are a ton of relics in the castle, as well as an exhibit of the Scottish crown jewels, and the national war memorial.

I do really wish I could take better pictures, but hopefully I’ll improve over the course of this semester abroad. Let me know if you have any recommendations of sights to see in Edinburgh or further out in Scotland!