Saturday, September 22, 2018

Random Thoughts about Scotland

We recently returned from our 6th trip together to Scotland, and I really wasn't sure where I wanted to start with blog posts. I've written quite a lot about our travels to Scotland and the Isle of Mull, after all, and some of what we do and experience there is not new. Then I came across this post from fellow expat travel blogger, Camila, who lives in Scotland but traveled recently to Germany! She collected her random observations about her time in Germany, and I thought that would be a good way to start about our trip. Thanks for the idea, Camila!

Standing Stones at Glengorm, Isle of Mull

So here we go with my random observations, thoughts, and lessons learned from our most recent trip to Scotland!

  • Scotland is beautiful, scenic, majestic and mysterious, regardless of the weather.

  • The Scots - at least the ones we encountered - are friendly, helpful, sincere, warm, and hardy.

  • The Scots are also well aware of how special their land is.

  • During two weeks in west Scotland, one learns to appreciate patches of blue sky.

  • Snickers make for great hiking snacks. Carrot sticks do not. On Monday I ate a Snickers mid-walk and felt a burst of energy. On Tuesday during a longer walk I'd brought carrot sticks, thinking that was a healthier option. I ate those mid-walk and just felt sad.

  • One can never be fully confident that the toilet one has just used will flush effectively. In one particular incident in a pub in Tobermory, I exited the stall having tried three times and said to the woman waiting, "I'm sorry, it doesn't seem to be flushing." She said - in what sounded to me like a local accent - "Oh, don't worry about it, Luv." I guess one gets used to this?

  • The wildlife on Mull is fabulous and - occasionally - cooperative. We finally saw our first wild otters! They were just swimming and diving, so our photos aren't impressive, but we saw them! Then there were sea eagles, buzzards, Kestrels, and a seal. No haggis, though...

  • I wanted some nice photos of us and of me, but I have two looks or styles in Scotland: Windswept & Red-faced and Drowned Rat. So we returned with no nice photos of us or me.

  • Scotland will reward you - if you are patient. We often set out in sketchy weather or walked into a downpour, but it seemed when we showed Mother Nature we were undaunted, she begrudgingly showed her best side.
  • Tea is just not as satisfying to me, especially in the morning, as a good cup of coffee.

  • I am very glad M is willing to do all the driving in Scotland!

  • Single-track roads are somehow better than two-lane roads when we're driving on the "wrong" side.

  • My Meindl hiking boots are the hammer! (When something is really, really great, in German one says it is "der Hammer".) I walked across boggy fields, up hills, along muddy paths, and even through a small river, and my feet stayed dry the entire time! The river was deeper than the top of my boots, and still only my ankle got a little wet. They are also very comfortable and feel great on long hikes.

  • There is more to Scotland than Outlander! Apparently tour groups are bussed around the country stopping at filming locations like this one in East Linton, which is 5 foot-minutes from our relatives' home:
Preston Mill, East Linton
  • The ideal photographs I had pictured in my mind's eye before our trip did not include solid gray clouds, which is what we had much of the time we were out hiking.
Kilchurn Castle
  • Highland coos can be assholes. Near the end of one of our walks we were ambling down a road dodging poo pies. Then we came to the pooing coos. They were just standing there eating as usual, but they had a calf with them. He was standing closest to the road, and his mum and aunties with their big horns faced and watched us. We paused, they stared. We took a few steps back, they stopped chewing and kept staring. One moved slightly so she was clearly facing us head-on. We fled from the road up the hill and through the soggy bracken, giving wide berth to the stupid toddler. We've heard they are docile, except when they feel their offspring is threatened - understandably. And since we were planning to turn one of their former relatives into Gulasch that very evening, we decided to take the high road and let them have their space.
These are actually not the beasts we encountered on the walk.
I took this from the safety of our car.
  • Pub meals are delicious! We had steak pie, wild game pie, various burgers, tomato soup, neeps and tatties! We didn't try haggis this time, but I'm determined to order it on our next trip.

  • Not sure which would be more complicated to travel with - small children, or dogs. We are glad we have neither. (Sorry if that makes us sound like jerks.) None of the children being carried around in Kraxen looked or sounded happy to be there. In one pub there were two Springers at a table near us, which the servers had to keep stepping over and around. Before we left one of the servers crouched down to pet them, which was really sweet...except for the "scratch-and-sniff" effect. Good my lord, they were ripe...

  • The Scots have a clever sense of humor.
Outside a pub in Linlithgow.
Can you read the fine print?

  • One week on the Isle of Mull isn't really enough. We're already talking about returning next year for two weeks. Update: We've booked two weeks on Mull for 2019.
Tobermory in the evening
Admittedly we do like to travel to familiar places, which is why we keep returning to Mull and Glengorm. We have enjoyed other areas of Scotland - parts of the highlands, Glencoe, Edinburgh, the Trossachs, Loch Ness, the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig - but somehow we always end up saying to each other, "Well, it wasn't Mull, but it was very nice." So I think we'll keep returning until we have seen all we want to see and walked all the walks we can on the island. So far we've got the north fairly well covered, and after a few more walks there we'll explore central Mull a bit more.

Is there a place you keep returning to for holidays, or do you prefer to seek out new and unfamiliar places?

Any random thoughts on Scotland?

No comments:

Post a Comment