Today we left the Glen Tar estates, which I must admit has probably been the nicest place we've stayed at, in Aberdeen to head to St. Andrews. That's right people the birth place of golf and where William and Kate first met. We walked around the ruins of the St. Andrews castle and were able to comprehend the monstrosity that was this building. We really got the feel of the building when we all walked the 155 steps to the top of the tower overlooking the entire city. Now we probably all can admit how awful it was to walk up these steps, and these priests must have been really fit. When we all descended the tower to head towards the towns center, lead by James. We broke apart for lunch and shopping. I (Bella) at that moment decided to be a picky eater and did not eat during my opportunity to eat and was punished by having to eat peoples leftovers from lunch; this was because my mentor and fellow pilgrims got lost on our way to the bus in order to leave and had to sprint in order to ensure that we wouldn't be the last ones on the bus. I (Lydia) got some pizza and was able picnic on the historic St. Andrews golf course, where I was bothered by a bird the whole time.
From St. Andrews we road the hour in a half journey to Edinburgh. Once we reached Edinburgh we quickly hopped off the bus to St. Giles Cathedral, which is probably one of the largest and most extravagant places we had ever seen. We were guided, by James, to the Thistle Chapel. This Chapel holds the chairs of Knights of the Thistle. Now this Chapel is the most extravagant place I had ever seen. It was covered in hand carved woodwork, green marble, and family shields. The most lavish chair is held by the head of the monarch (thats right the queen), with the second most laves chair to her right, and the rest of the knights down the sides. We left the Chapel and walked around the main church talking about history, and looking at memorials the people had given to fallen soldiers. This part really touched my heart because of the ridiculous loyalty the Scottish people have for each other. They are so diverse yet so passionate as a group, which I think defiantly reflects and fits our pilgrimage group perfectly.
We left the Cathedral to head towards the Edinburgh Castle. This Castle was build on top of volcanic rock so you can image how pleasant it was to climb this giant hill. However a surprise waited for us at the top, when everyone reached the top there were Scottish soldiers dressed in full uniform (Yes kilts and everything) marching on command. Now you might think well that probably happens all the time, and you would be wrong! Apparently it was a Princes birthday (We don't know which one we just know someone in the royal family) and since they don't work on Sundays we got the treat of seeing them today. Anyway we continued up the hill until we reached the highest point at the castle (which is exciting cause that meant that all other walking was downhill) where got an amazing view of all of Edinburgh. Now most of us made the mistake of wanting to see a special chapel that happened to be the oldest thing on the property. This event led to a waiting game where we waited for thirty minutes for a wedding to finish (and something happened in the middle and the bride came out and didn't look very good) but all in all the wed and we got to go in bodies freezing. Let us tell you it doesn't matter how many layers you have on if you're from the South you don't like the cold.
Anyway after we saw the Chapel, which was worth it, we headed to the Elephant House. What is this you might ask, well it's the birthplace of Harry Potter! J.K. Rowling started writing the very first Harry Potter book on this site (on a napkin I might add); and after almost wrong turns we reached it and all ordered some hot chocolate. We then scurried to the bus in order to reach it on time (which very difficult for Americans). When we were all situated on the bus we headed towards the hotel, where we had to say good-bye to Graeme, who was our wonderful bus driver during our trip. Now being the Episcopalians we are we didn't just say bye, but we all sang a song, and gave him gifts that we had brought. Emily made a card from all of us, which was really well done by the way. We then parted ways and found our rooms. An hour or so later we ate dinner and after promptly came to the boys suite (this place is really big they even have a living room) to do compline, slideshow, and another exercise we had never heard of. This was defiantly the most meaningful part of the day (to the both of us). We all stood in the middle of the room and everyone placed their hand on you (which of course was a stir because people were putting hands on faces) and all were encouraged to say one word (or more) about the person. Then at the end when there was silence we all said, "you are loved". This statement alone is a powerful one, and proclaiming to love someone after only knowing them for eight days is really something interesting. But we can tell you honest that everyone in the room meant what they said. It showed our journey together and how we had all grown to notice that special something about that one person. It made everyone feel close and was really something different. Spiritually it was really a gift from God to know that He enabled all of us to attend this trip and that He allowed us to get to know twenty other FANTASTIC people. Today though is close to the end, it has been a spiritually blessed one.
Lydia and Bella