Today we are leaving Scotland and heading off to Northern Ireland! We’ve spent the past week in Scotland and it has been great! We used airBnB in Edinburgh, went on a Haggis Wild & Sexy Tour to the Highlands and spent our final night back in Edinburgh in a hostel. So over the past week or so, I’ve come up with another Top Five List about Scotland!
1. History. Brittany and I have learned an awful lot about Scottish history since we have arrived in Scotland. Growing up in the states we never learned about Mary Queen of Scots, power struggles between Scotland and England, or the real story of Braveheart and William Wallace. At the Edinburgh Castle we learned about the Scottish military and the influential role they played in WWII in working with the English to bring supplies to the USSR. We visited the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (the Queen’s official Scottish residence) and saw Mary Queen of Scots’ bedroom and dining room. On our Haggis Tour we visited memorial sites for the Jacobite rebellion and a memorial for William Wallace. Turns out Hollywood didn’t get the Braveheart story completely right…who would have thought (note the heavy sarcasm)?! The Scottish have not forgotten the events that have happened in the past, and have provided us with some incredibly fascinating and thought-provoking stories that we didn’t learn about in high school social studies classes!
2. Kilts. Men wearing skirts?! Awesome! One of our Haggis tour guides, Andy, wore a kilt all weekend during our tour! While they have become quite a touristy thing, kilts are traditionally worn by highlanders (people from the highland region of Scotland). Since we were traveling through the highlands, it was quite appropriate for Andy to wear it! What I really like about the kilt wearing in Scotland is not that it is “different” from what we do in America, but because it represents Scottish pride. Following the Jacobite rebellion, the English tried to ethnically cleanse and destroy the highland culture. Luckily their culture survived and still remains today. I am fascinated how such intense and impactful events have happened in history in various regions of the world that I have never even heard about. The fact that they fought to keep their culture alive is quite inspiring!
3. Irn Bru. Irn Bru, Scotland’s leading selling carbonated drink, is delicious! Apparently, it is recognized as Scotland’s second national drink (#1 being scotch whiskey) and is more popular than Coca Cola. It tastes like cream soda and has lots of caffeine in it. Everyone swears that it also is the only cure for a hangover. While on our tour, fellow travelers suggested having Irn Bru with vodka. I have to say that I am not a huge fan of vodka, but mixing it with Irn Bru makes it go down much easier! Not to mention that it also is prevents hangovers too ;). Our first tour guide for the weekend, Don, taught us a chant they like to do at football games (their national football team is named the Tartan Army) : “We hate Coca-Cola, we hate Fanta too (it’s shite!). We’re the Tartan Army and we love Irn Bru!”
4. Dancing. If you know me well at all, you know that I love to dance! Well, Saturday night in Inverness, Scotland, I got my chance to try some Scottish folk dancing. After having a cider and two vodka/Irn Bru drinks, I got the nerve to go try and work the dance floor with the locals. The dance involved six people -three guys and three girls – and ALOT of swinging! It reminded me of dosi-do square dancing, just without the hokey country music! I had seen the dance performed earlier in the night, so I had a rough idea what was happening. Unfortunately, my poor partner (who was traveling from England) had absolutely no idea what to do! We all know who showed him up on the dance floor ;). I had a great time and was greeted with high fives when I joined the group from the Haggis Tour. Even a local who had also been dancing asked me to do another dance! But at that point I had enough Scottish folk dancing for one night!
5. Purple Flowers. We created this blog so we could share our personal experiences with our family, friends and anyone else who was interested in hearing about our travels (and because it would benefit Brittany’s journalism career). This next “favorite thing” is quite personal though, so no matter how hokey or cheesy it may sound, please understand the significance it means to me. Throughout our trip, Brittany and I have seen many patches of purple flowers. However, this past weekend it seemed that every where I looked I saw this same type of purple flower! The thing is, that our grandmother, JoAnn, who passed away this spring, loved the color purple. She had an adventurous side that not too many people were able to see, but we both know how excited she would be for us to take this trip. Sure it may be a coincidence, but every time I saw the flowers I knew that grandma was with us or watching us giggle and enjoy every minute of our trip!
Scotland is a beautiful country filled with strong culture and a deep, rich history. Once again I’ve been surprised with how much I have learned on this trip. Though our time was short, I know that I can’t wait to come back and dive deeper into the highlands and see more of this beautiful country!
Aye! I mean bye!