*We still get trouble about this from our parents, but the only guests at our wedding were our witnesses, who live in East Linton (see below).
The short version is that we spent a week on the Isle of Mull in a self-catering flat, then two nights in the Trossachs at a lovely B&B, and ended with three days and four nights in East Linton near Edinburgh at the home of dear friends of ours (my Schwiegermutter's crazy mountain-running cousin and his Austrian wife). From their home we took three day trips. We enjoyed every minute of our time in Scotland!
|this is Tee. I want an owl.|
I thought I would start with several things that we noticed in the first few days. These are not necessarily new things for us, but they reminded us that we were no longer in Germany.
The first thing that struck us almost right off the plane was how friendly and chatty everyone was. I never say that Germans are unfriendly, but they are very business-like and professional and don't smile a lot while working. Nothing wrong with that! We'd arranged a rental car through ADAC/Sixt, and we queued behind a couple at the counter. The woman was punching stuff into her computer and all the while chatting - asking them where they were going, if they'd been to Scotland before, etc. When it was our turn she asked all the same things, and we gave short German answers. I kept it short so she could better get her job done:
"Where are you going?" "The Isle of Mull."
"Oh, nice! Have you been here before? "Yes."We weren't rude - I smiled as I answered. But I've gotten used to not chit-chatting with people who are working.
When we checked in at the hotel that evening, it was the same thing. The lad at the counter was friendly, chatty, and asked all kinds of questions that Americans tend to love answering and elaborating about. By the time we got to our B&B in the Trossachs, we were used to this again and had nice chats with the prioprietors - but not while they were cooking our breakfast!
I think part of German efficiency is asking only the questions that are relevant, and giving only the answers that matter. I do not mean to imply the Scottish are not efficient - we found that they were. They're just also unnecessarily friendly - and that's not a bad thing either!
The second thing that struck us (besides nearly a car) was that driving on the left side of the road sucks! I was in a constant state of alert as branches, parked cars, curbs, and stone walls whizzed by me as M concentrated on staying far enough from the oncoming cars shooting past him. I have grumbled often enough about the narrow roads and lack of shoulders in Germany, but this is worse in Scotland in part because everything is on the "wrong" side. M did a great job driving and avoiding accidents and sheep dashing about, but we were fortunate quite often that the rental car had good brakes. I could have driven according to our rental car agreement, but I wisely did not.
In the end, we actually both prefer the single-track roads on Mull, where oncoming traffic means using a passing place and some stopping and waiting. Part of the appeal is that there's not a lot of traffic on the island.
The third thing that struck us is that we have no idea how to tip in Scotland. None. It's so easy in Germany - round up to an even amount and pad it a bit (roughly 10%). It's even easier in the U.S. - add 15-20% to the pre-tax amount and leave the money on the table. But we (still) have no idea how or how much to tip in Scotland.
|Tantallon Castle ruins, North Berwick|
We do need to fix that tipping thing, because we're planning to go back again in 2-3 years. Or we'll just avoid it and stay at self-catering cottages where we'll cook for ourselves! :-)
So stay tuned for more about Scotland if you're interested. We're not experts on Scotland, but the more often we visit, the more we long to return. We are drawn to its rugged wilderness, its unpredictable weather, its history, and its spirit.