Aspiring Scotland: Stirling

Before the Grecian review begins,
I wanted to wrap up my trip to Scotland earlier this month.

You've seen the sites of Edinburgh & St. Andrews,
but no trip Scotland could be complete without visiting Stirling.

Tomorrow, we'll move on to Greek-ier things
like ruins, tziziki, and the evil,
but today- we are still in Scotland 
soaking up the vibrant history and sites.

I hope that these short posts can help you with future vacations.

Since we are lucky enough to travel so much right now,
 I want to be able to offer something more than just fun pics of us traveling.

(Even I am getting a little bored looking at those. I can only image you are, too.)

While you may not need a city guide to these random places now, 
I'm a firm believer that you never know 
when you might find yourself heading to an exciting new place!

And when you do have that crazy ticket in hand,
just know, all the goodness of where to go (and of course, what to eat)
will still be here on Aspiring Kennedy.

This hilly town used was once the capital of Scotland,
however now it quietly offers pulsing hoards of day-trippers
a rich glimpse into Scottish heritage.

With frequent trains running from Edinburgh's Waverly Station,
the scenic train to Stirling makes for an easy (and enjoyable) day trip.

After Braveheart, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to visit to Scotland
without paying homage to William Wallace,
and Stirling's impressive Wallace Monument is the reason this quiet town
remains high on the list of "must-sees" for a Scottish tour.

Sitting in the low hills surrounding the city, 
The Wallace Monument is a 19th century tower 
that offers gorgeous views of the valley below.

The tower has cleverly broken up the massive climb to the top
with floors telling the story of Wallace's role in Scotland's rebellion 
throughout your journey up the 246 steps to the tower's crown.

Though this site takes a taxi to reach, 
a slow inclined walk through the woods to reach, 
and a slightly exhausting haul up to the tower,
the views offered up top are worth the effort.

Whether you find yourself there on a rainy day
overlooking the misty Scottish horizon,
or with the sun gleaming off the grass below-
you will feel that you captured the Scotland in it's essence.

(I've been there with both types of weather, and was equally enchanted both times.)

Grab a taxi after lunch and head to Stirling's castle.

(We had the pub call a taxi for us. It cost about €6.00 for all four of us.)

It's not as big as some other castles you may visit,
but the renovation is very interactive
and the castle's tapestry weaving is a unique peek into a lost art.

From the castle, there is a short walk to adjoining Gowan Hill
where the famous Beheading Stone now sits.

Wander through the unending daffodils and sneak a seat on the benches
to watch the sunset before you leave for the train station.

Continue with the downhill momentum you have from walking down the tower,
keep cruising down the hill, 
past the tower gates, through the small neighborhood, 
until you find yourself on flat ground
at the buzzing intersection circling back towards Stirling.

There sits the unpretentious William Wallace Pub,
Which despite it's name- it not a tourist zone.

The crowd is local
- going to & fro at random -
and the classic pub food is fairly cheap
at around €6.50 per entree.

Most dishes come with the Scottish accompaniments of "tatties & neeps,"
which in case you are wondering are 
mashed potatoes & mashed swede or turnips.

Don't be scared of the "neeps," they are delicious.