Upon returning from Scotland on a 9-day trip (don’t vacations go by fast?), I have had time to reflect on those 9 days and have come up with the following conclusions:
- Scotland is a beautiful country. The landscape looks like a quilt from the air, and you can see it up close when on the ground. There are fields of green grass, brown fields of wheat and they mesh together in a beautiful grid. The green covered glens are breathtaking and the rugged mountains and hills in the northern country (Highlands) are majestic. It is worth going just to see the scenery.
- Just about everyone in Scotland is friendly. It may be because there are pubs and golf courses just about everywhere, I mean, who could be in a bad mood with those two things so prominently displayed throughout many Scottish cities? Seriously though, people are genuinely nice, workers provide great customer service, and the local folk are just plain polite, something that has been a bit lost for the most part in America.
- The weather is typically dismal. They say there are two types of weather in Scotland, raining and about to rain. That is pretty much the case. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east, weather patterns come and go virtually every 15 minutes. We were quite lucky on this trip as we had 7 straight days of relatively warm sunny weather in a row. That changed abruptly our last two days, but all in all I cannot complain.
- The food is different. Actually, just about everything is different but I will get to that in a moment. Bacon is really ham. Eggs are kept on a non-refrigerated shelf in the grocery stores. Haggis is well, haggis, although I find it quite tasty. Breakfast sandwiches are primarily bacon, I mean ham, on a while roll with butter (I’m not sure, but the idea of a heart smart diet seems to have not made its way to Scotland). Pork and beans (without the pork), are served in a traditional Scottish breakfast. Fish and chips are one big piece of fish, which was delicious by the way. I did see one McDonalds and two Burger Kings, of which I’m told was basically the same quality and taste we have here in America. There are many subtle differences, but all in all the cuisine was fine. You could get just about anything you wanted there.
- There is different terminology as well. The bathroom is the lieu. You don’t watch your step, you mind it. A golf cart is a buggy. A pull cart is a trolley. A shot of scotch is a wee nip. The accent makes it hard to understand what our Scottish friends are saying, but it is the use of words we typically don’t use and/or associate that also can add to the difficulty in comprehending their speech.
- The golf is different. You probably have watched the British Open, now officially called The Open, on TV. You can see the landscape is different, few trees on most courses, and gorse bushes sprinkled around. The ground is brown and firm. The heather aligns the fairways and on many courses is quite penal. The fairways and areas around greens have bunkers in which the backhoe operator was just plain evil. Lastly, there is a rumor that they bury dead elephants on many of the greens. The weather comes and goes quickly, so you are constantly taking off and putting on rain gear, and you walk. Very few courses have “buggies” and they are typically reserved for “disabled” people. Their word for handicapped.
All in all, Scotland is a place that you could say was lost in time. The architecture is old. Bricks, stone, rock, make up many of the buildings walls and some of the streets. Rock walls are prevalent throughout the landscape, making me wonder if that is more amazing than the building of the pyramids in Egypt. The people are polite and proper, and the appliances and plumbing seem like they are from the ‘50’s.
There is endless charm, beauty as far as the eye can see, and a culture that is worth studying. It was my third trip to Scotland and I don’t know if I will get another chance to go back, but I sure hope so.
It Starts with the Heart