Although I had some pretty high expectations of Scotland, I was still surprised by how much I loved it there. In many ways, the scenery reminded me of New Zealand: rolling green hills dotted with white sheep, u-shaped valleys and mountains surrounded by a beautiful body of water. But Scotland had something extra that resonated with me: warm, charming people, beautiful heritage buildings, the best pubs and easy access to beautiful landscapes.
I was really lucky with the weather when I visited. Scotland is infamous for its bad weather but it was ‘scorching’ by their standards, a balmy 20 degrees! It rained only twice in a week of being there… apparently a rare occurrence… perhaps as rare as spotting the Loch Ness monster!
I started my trip in Glasgow, the capital of Scotland. I was lucky to be picked up at the airport by a sweet Scottish friend I had met in Argentina and Brazil. She warned me that Glasgow didn’t have very much to offer in terms of attractions and gave me a little tour of the city. While I didn’t see too many attractions, and none were particularly impressive, I still fell in love with the city. The people were so warm and friendly, the atmosphere was very chill and cool, particularly in the west end, and the bars played excellent music. Another Canadian friend and I barhopped the city and ended up at Nice ‘n Sleazy where they had good indie music, and played a Stereolab song to give it even more coolness cred.
My Scottish friend also drove me outside of the city to Troon, a seaside town which is like the Florida of Scotland. It is a place where people move to after retirement but still nice.
After Glasgow, my Canadian friend and I headed to Edinburgh. On my first day, I climbed up to Arthur’s Seat and spent my time exploring the new and old buildings.Edinburgh is one of the most aesthetically beautiful cities I’ve been to but my favourite thing was the lovely pubs throughout the city.
In Toronto, I’m so used to pubs and bars being age-segregated. But a lot of the pubs there were multigenerational, often no larger than a tiny bookstore and accompanied by a man or two playing Scottish folk songs. It lent itself to a warm atmosphere, conducive to meeting interesting people and making friends. Coming from a relatively cold city like Toronto, it made me really appreciate the setup.
We did a two day tour through the highlands, going from Edinburgh up to Inverness, with stops at Loch Ness, Glen Coe and others.
Bus tours are generally not my preferred way to travel – I’ve mostly had mediocre to bad experiences with them but with non-existent driving skills and limited time, it seemed like the best way to go see the Highlands, something I was keen on doing.
The tour gave me a sample of the beauty of the Highlands but each tour was too short to truly appreciate it. We only had about 15 minutes at each stop, and most tour mates would use the opportunity to snap photos. The hills of the Highlands were indeed very high. Seeing them, I had a desire to run up one of them. I hope I can go back again and do a proper hike and/or bike ride.
More photos from Scotland