Whenever I get within a train or two of St Andrews, I head back. It’s been nearly 10 years since I started university there, and every time I visit, I’m still amazed by how quaint it is. I’m also amazed that I busied myself there for four years without getting tired of the place; the town center is just three parallel streets crammed with charity stores, cafes and sandwich shops.
I tried to make the most of living there by revising on the beach, walking along West Sands and struggling through golf lessons – but I never really reveled in it like a tourist. So with Ryan with me on this trip, I thought now was a good time.
After arriving, we picked up some ice creams from the famous Jannetta’s – caramel for me, Scottish tablet for him – before I snuck through a passageway to show him the little cottage where I lived in second year.
Then we headed to the scattered cathedral ruins that overlook the sea.
The cathedral was built in 1158 but stripped of its altar during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, when Catholic mass was banned. Over the years, other parts fell down or were recycled for building materials – and all that stands today is this:
Then it was on to the castle, which I last toured years ago with my friend Simon. I remembered him telling me about how mines were dug beneath the castle during a siege in the 1540s – and how the castle’s inhabitants successfully dug counter mines to stop them.
After climbing hundreds of stairs and crawling through damp passageways, we were ready for a snack. There was only one place for it: the glorious North Point. I was happy to see still serves hefty scones and heavy milkshakes. I’ve missed this place!
I love going back to St Andrews – and I was just as amazed as I always have been. But it’s also changed a lot since the last time I was there two years ago. In place of the ugly student union is now a shiny expanse of steel, and where my favorite cafes or Woolworth’s once stood, there are now reams of clothes chains. So it’s not as homely as it used to be and the students look like newborns – but of course I was still very, very jealous of them.
It’s a gorgeous place, and if you get the chance, please check it out. It’s about an hour from Edinburgh to the nearest train station (Leuchars) or a few hours on the bus from Glasgow. Worth it for that pier and North Point, I’m telling you.