I’ve wanted to visit Scotland for as long as I can remember. So, it seems strange to me that when people hear I took a trip there, the first thing they ask is “why Scotland?” As though it would be the last place on earth they would have chosen.
Because of the Lochs, the Highlands, and the plaid wearing, whiskey loving, friendly people. The cities with their centuries of history intact; cobblestone lanes and walkways, ancient castles and churches, narrow roads and roundabouts. Tiny villages on the edge of the sea where nothing seems to have changed other than the exchange of horses and carts for cars rumbling over cobblestones between rows of shops.
I’ve had an unrequited crush on Scotland from afar ever since reading romantic historical novels as a teenager and secretly hoping one day to fall through a time warp and land in the arms of a kilt-wearing, sword-wielding, muscular highlander. That didn’t happen. But I did manage to get my Dutch/Swede man to wear a kilt… for a picture. And he didn’t look half bad.
So, why Scotland? Maybe because I’ve always FELT Scottish and since feelings are everything these days, I’ve decided to identify as Scottish. I have not sent for my Ancestry DNA kit, but I feel confident that there must be a tiny bit of Scottish blood in me somewhere. After all, I love those shortbread cookies they are so famous for and I could even get used to drinking hot tea all the time if I had cute sugar cubes and cream at the ready.
Most of all, I love the brogue. No accent says, “Guid eenin. Have yourself a sit down. Would you like a wee dram of whiskey and a shortbread biscuit?” quite like a Scot. I could listen to it all day.
Scotland was everything and nothing as I imagined. A week was certainly not enough time to immerse myself in the culture, visit all the historical sites, taste, smell, see or find that time travel door and fall through it.
Being novices to foreign travel, my husband and I decided to take a Globus tour. Not wanting to get stuck in an unending loop circling one of those roundabouts in a tiny little car until we were dizzy, or the traffic police pulled us over for joyriding, we thought maybe a bus would suit us well our first time. Besides, driving on the wrong (left) side of the road is hard enough for right-handed Americans but we’re both left-handed, so… it doesn’t bear imagining.
Arriving in Dublin airport after absolutely no sleep on the plane, I was decidedly exhausted but otherwise ecstatic. I was in Ireland! Yay! Of course, I would never see outside of the airport, but still. I did see the writing on the wall and that was picture worthy enough. It was also a tad bit worrying to be printed on the wall of an airport…
Not long later, we took a wee plane over to Scotland and were immediately greeted by a tall, kilt-wearing Scot by the name of Richard. Along with a couple of other fellow travelers we embarked on a Globus bus for our hotel in Glasgow. We were told that we just missed the annual Santa Dash where over 8,000 Scots dressed like Santa Claus ran through Glasgow to raise money for charity. I was understandably disappointed, but we did spot a few stragglers about the city on the short ride to our accommodations.
We were soon to see that Christmas is huge in Scotland. The cities we visited during our stay were all decorated to the max. Lights, wreaths, bulbs, and fully dressed trees were everywhere. Christmas markets were set up in Glasgow and Edinburgh with carnival rides, food venders, and wares for sale. Everyone seemed to be in great spirits. People were friendly and cheerful and decidedly helpful. We saw a middle-aged woman fall on the pavement and within two seconds she had half a dozen young women helping her up. I’ve never been to New York city but my impression from news and movies is that in a similar scenario a half dozen people would be taking videos with their cell phones, someone would be picking her pocket, and maybe someone across the street would finally take pity and call 911.
I’ve never wanted to live in a city. I’ve lived in small towns and now in the ‘burbs, which is basically spread out patches of bluegrass fronted houses, separated every couple miles by big blocks of the same stores and fast food restaurants over and over like a never ending copy and paste program. But I could totally see myself living in one of those lovely old townhomes in the middle of Edinburgh and walking from one end to the other… if I were a wealthy woman of means. Those townhomes must cost a fortune!
I’m not saying Scots are kinder, happier, and more caring, but they certainly seemed so.
Perhaps living in and around architecture built not only to endure but to be pleasing to the eye with a beauty that has withstood the test of time and mankind’s warmongering, glowing with history and remaining bright with life after hundreds of years is what makes all the difference.
Americans are accustomed to the motto, out with the old and in with the new, which sadly, is how most of us live our lives day after day. I dare to say that letting history fall away and be lost to future generations is not profitable or wise. We fail to learn from the past and indulge a short-sighted focus, self-aggrandizement, and sometimes lack of empathy at the plight of others.
On the bright side, I kind of wish I was still in Scotland.
Until next time…
Have you ever been to Scotland or want to go? Leave a comment!