I was determined to go to Scotland and get a tattoo that meant something to me about where I come from and who I want to be (Braveheart, get it?). I was busy taking everything in during my whole trip that I didn’t start to really think about it until I got to Scotland. It was obvious where I should get it- Stirling. Home of the bridge that helped the famous battle at Stirling bridge be successful for William Wallace and Andrew Moray during the first war of Scottish independence. And a more recent addition- the Wallace Monument.
I walked from my hostel in the royal mile down the hill in the direction that the internet told me the bus station was. A friendly grocery store clerk helped me the rest of the way. Because of the time of day I had arrived, my round ticket trip to Stirling from Edinburgh was very cheap. I hopped on the bus and an hour and forty-five minutes later I arrived in Stirling.
It was my kind of town. Small, surrounded by beautiful green hills, full of thrift stores, history, and kind people. I had already researched which tattoo parlor I wanted to go to and was hoping for a walk-in appointment. The receptionist was down to earth and reminded me of my brother. I knew I was in the right place. Except they were full that day, so I made an appointment for the next day’s afternoon.
But there I was in Stirling with a full day ahead of me so I stuck around. I walked through the city streets, stopped at a visitor center (had a really nice conversation with the person working there), through a graveyard, uphill to the castle… there was the Wallace monument in the distance. I wanted to walk there, but I knew I didn’t have time to walk all the way there and back before the last bus headed to Edinburgh for the day. So I went back to the bus station and got on the next one headed to the monument. I have made a separate post for that experience, which you can find here.
The next day I knew the way to the Edinburgh bus station on my own, and boarded the same bus back to Stirling. It passed the same greenery and horses, but this time I sat on the other side for a different view. I made it to my tattoo appointment.
“You really are brave,” said my tattoo artist, “you’re handling this much better than I handled my rib tattoo.” I’m pretty sure he was just being nice. Did it hurt? I don’t really remember. He told me funny stories and talked the whole time, so I was pretty content to just lay there listening to his accent. The whole crew who worked there made me feel very comfortable. They made me laugh.
I was thrilled with the outcome. And not ready yet to leave Stirling. I checked out the thrift stores. I’d been wearing the same backpack’s worth of clothing for five and a half months, so I was happy to find some different ones, and books. I’m a big reader, especially when alone. It just helps to have a good book to fall asleep reading at night. I’d get one at a thrift store and then when I was done leave it at a hostel library.
I went to Stirling a third time during my trip to Scotland. This time I was with my two friends who met me from home, and we took the train. We went to the Wallace monument, and this time we walked. I wanted to walk across the Stirling bridge, and of course-have a beer at the William Wallace pub!
The William Wallace Pub
The Stirling Bridge
The Stirling Castle
The Wallace Monument