Holly and I just finished the first leg of our fifty-day European adventure. Our first stop: Scotland. We loved it! We’re just hoping that it doesn’t end up being our favorite destination on the trip. Nobody wants to save the best for first!
This little “Canada of the UK” was pleasant, enriching, and beautiful. Here are 6 reasons why you should visit Scotland on your next vacation.
- Every Single Person We Met Was Nice
I guess I was still in France mode from last year, thinking that every European thought of Americans as lazy annoyances. I was shocked to find that every single Scot that we talked with was downright pleasant! Every ticket counter woman treated me like a son. People getting off the bus always thanked their bus driver excessively. Our bus driver gave us a discounted ride when we couldn’t find change. Someone I bumped into apologized profusely. Everyone we talked with seemed happy to see us and ready to help us.
- The Weather was Surprisingly Enjoyable
While we were in Scotland, we never had a “sunny” day, but somehow that was alright. It never got too cold for a jacket, the sun would poke out its head every hour or so, and rain would only happen a couple minutes at a time. Because of the constant change, it felt like we got a week’s worth of weather in a day. And the clouds were some of the best I’ve seen. Basically, it wasn’t a monsoon, and it wasn’t too hot or bright. It was a pleasant middle. And the slightly eerie flavor of the weather made me want to write a mystery novel, much like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write Sherlock Holmes while a student in Edinburgh.
- I Could Listen to Them Talk All Day
While in Scotland, I constantly found myself eavesdropping on people. I didn’t care what they were saying, I just wanted to hear them say it. It’s just so dang rich! Scottish, I feel, is just on the edge of unintelligible to Americans. Once, talking with an old man, I only caught about 60% of what he was saying. Other times a loud speaker would be talking in the train station, and I could have sworn it was German until my brain started registering the English words. It was fun. It made me feel as though I was in a foreign country speaking with the natives in a new language. It just so happened that I picked up their language rather quickly J. Who needs German, French, or Spanish? Just go to Scotland! Also, hearing a 2-year old Scottish kid speak will basically melt your heart into a puddle.
- Scotland has the Perfect “Underdog” History
Scotland, by nature of being smaller and less populated than England for basically all of history, has always been the underdog in wars with its neighbor to the south. And who doesn’t love an underdog? Sure, the English usually got their way, but whenever William Wallace or Robert the Bruce gave the British dogs a good whopping, they sure did let them hear about it. They also have the advantage of getting to claim the glories of the UK, but also of disassociating with the English failures. Best of both worlds! On top of this, they get to boast of Gaelic, Picts, & Viking ancestry.
- Castles, castles, castles
Even though Scottish royalty now resides in London, for most of its history Scotland was home to its own slew of kings, queens, dukes, and earls. Because of this, incredible castles are everywhere. And from what we could tell, most of these castles were left pretty well alone for the last several hundred years. We visited Edinburgh Castle (which they built on a freaking volcano), Stirling Castle (home to James IV, V, VI, and Mary Queen of Scots), and Doune Castle (which you may recognize from all the castle scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). We spotted several more during our train rides. These medieval giants were the highlights of our trip.
- It’s Undeniably Beautiful
Scotland’s countryside is incredible. It has just the right amount of hills, and just the right amount of trees mixed with grass fields (which, by the way, all somehow look like freshly-mowed golf courses). Because of the slight elevation changes, you’re almost always able to see miles into any direction and soak in the greens and blues. As I already mentioned, the clouds are epic. On top of that, there must be some kind of house building codes that say that all houses need to look the same grey/brown/stone color, making the country constantly look like it was pulled out of another century. Throw in a few hundred herds of puffy white sheep (much cuter than American cows), and walla, Scotland! We didn’t even visit the lakes and cliffs of the northern Highlands, which all have raving reviews.
Our friends in Scotland told us that while abroad, they’re treated much like Canadians: everyone likes them! It’s easy to have beef with the big bad Americans or Britons, but what’s not to like about the Scottish?
Between their legitimately cool history, their pleasant “sweater weather,” their perfect accents, their beautiful land, and their kind demeanors, Scotland gets 5 stars from this guy.