Scotland was a magical land of open fields, farming, bagpipes, and men in kilts. We didn’t have much time there, but it gave me an amazing glimpse at the beautiful countryside and what Scotland is really all about. We began our journey on the West Coast and travelled North.
Our first stop was Gretna Green a village on the border between England and Scotland. It was actually the first village in Scotland. Insert Cute Fact Here: and it is known as the ‘runaway wedding’ destination of the United Kingdom.
We were headed for Edinburgh so had the chance to drive through some beautiful countryside. I was dumbfounded at how many wind combines there were. I never really thought of it being apparent in the UK, but we saw hundreds. Through the rolling fields, and in the middle of the ocean too.
The countryside was filled with stone houses, luscious rolling green hills, stone fences, and small quirky towns. The weather was absolutely perfect, the skys were a magnificent blue and puffy white clouds filled the skies which made the green pastures so much more vibrant. It was a countryside overload and I loved it.
We rolled into Edinburgh mid- afternoon and settled into our hotel. We got ready for an evening out on the town.
We headed to a traditional Scottish banquet with bagpipes, haggis, scotch, and of course highland dancing (men in kilts… eek). The evening was alive with the sound of bagpipes and dance. You couldn’t help but have a smile and a laugh at their banter and humorous show. I have always really liked bagpipes and I instantly felt the culture and pride of Scotland fill the room. The highland dancers fluttered around the room to the sound of the music and I was captivated. Just when I thought the night couldn’t get anymore authentic they brought out dinner. We had a traditional roast beef dinner and as a ‘treat’ some haggis. For some of you who don’t know what haggis is:
Haggis: A savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal and suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach
So I said ‘while in Scotland, be a Scotsman’ and dug in, I was two bites in and had to wash it down with my tumbler of scotch and then stole my mother’s and downed that too. I mean… I’m glad I tried it but wow it is very different.
Anyways the night ended with a few more scotch, more bagpipes, dancing, and I remember looking around the room feeling so thankful and just thinking ‘I’d love to be a Scotsman’s wife’… and then I realized that the scotch had kicked in. Sober or not sober, I had a tremendous night and I felt alive with Scottish culture.
The next day we spent the day exploring Edinburgh city. Our first stop was a thorough tour throughout the Edinburgh castle, which was actually built in the center of Edinburgh on a high rock cliff, it can be seen from miles away. It was a lot larger than I had anticipated and feature hundreds of stairs, old canons, panoramic views of the city, and we had an excellent tour guide to give us the history on it all. She was a funny Scottish lady who was clearly a proud citizen through and through.
As we walked the historic streets I was drawn to the architecture of the buildings throughout, it was astounding. I loved the cobblestone roads, paned windows, and the stonework was well maintained and brought such a presence. The churches and small shops along the main roads were all in excellent working condition.
Following Edinburgh Castle we went to the Yacht Britannia, which was the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II from 1954 to 1997. We toured the yacht and got a feel for the luxurious lifestyle she led. The yacht was still in tiptop shape from the last day she had sailed the seas. Everything was decorated to the nines, and it gave a feel as though it had a past, and it was a much sought after yacht.
After a busy day we sat down for a feast, and filled ourselves awaiting another amazing night of Scottish culture and heritage. That night we went back to Edinburgh Castle to watch The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I can not emphasize how amazing this experience was. If you are in Scotland it is a MUST DO. It was an amazing night. It is a spectacle of bagpipes, marching bands, baton tossing, kilts, and fireworks. It is mind blowing how 100 men can march, play a musical instrument, and still manage to sound amazing, and not pile into each other. It is simply sensational. The photos themselves don’t do it justice so you will just have to go experience it yourself!
My time in Scotland was very short, but did I ever get a feel for the culture and pride. I will definitely be back to roam the countryside, have a tumbler or two more of scotch, listen to the bagpipes, and maybe even take a highland dancing class or two. The entire feel of Scotland is something else; it’s truly something you have to experience for yourself. I will forever hear the bagpipes flitting in my ears; the scenes of rolling green pastures and stone fences play through my mind, and the taste of that authentic aged scotch roll in my mouth.