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I have been in Scotland for ten months and only a week ago did I actually finally make it to Stirling.  You know how when you live really close to really famous or touristy places, you tend to postpone them?  I mean, they’re always there.  You’ll get to it… eventually.

Well, it occurred to me that I’m actually leaving Scotland soon and I really should go to Stirling soon.

I mean, the coolest fictional character ever spent quite a bit of time in Stirling.  I’m talking about Lymond, of course: cunning, sardonic, suave, and brilliant Lymond.  The Game of Kings is my favorite book in the world and it takes place during the time of Mary de Guise and her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots. 

Stirling was especially entertaining for me because I spent half the time envisioning Lymond and the other characters from the novel, both fictional and real, walking these very streets.  It’s a fun way to experience a city.

Stirling was very enjoyable.  It was far less tourist-packed than Edinburgh but with the same level of pretty, old-city-ness that everyone likes so much about Edinburgh.  The church is lovely.

John Knox preached here.

This is the only church still standing in which a Scottish royal was crowned: Mary’s son James.  This is how I know he was here:

Like Edinburgh, you experience the slow rise as you climb up the street to the castle at the very top.  The streets and buildings are beautiful.The views are extraordinary. The Wallace Monument, of course, is in view. 

Our Historic Scotland membership got us free audio guides to go with the castle, which was splendid.  They were very dramatic with a cast of characters telling the stories.  The voice of Mary de Guise was a little too French to be true, but I learn history best through storytelling, so it was more memorable for me.

Of course, I was highly insulted that no mention of Lymond was made.  I guess he was just too awesome for mundane historical tours.

It was a blastingly windy day.  Kind of like Monsoon Island, but no rain, so it turned out to be pleasant enough.

There were just a few times when we had to hunker down and cling to a rock to ensure we weren’t sent flying out into the wild gray yonder.

(I claimed the castle, of course.  Stirling is strategic and pretty.)

The tapestries were extraordinary.  They’ve been working on them for years, painstakingly recreating them from the originals.  The unicorns are exquisite. Maybe I should take on a project like that… 

We walked along the outer walls and enjoyed the views (and the wind). I even found a hidden, magical door, but I couldn’t move the stone in front of it.  Maybe next time.  I’m just glad I got a chance to visit Stirling before I leave Scotland! Right now, I’m somewhere in Ireland, possibly Dublin, so pictures will be forthcoming, of course, but not until I get back and recover from so much Irish awesomeness.