Let me just say this: If you’ve ever wondered if Scotland is worth visiting, it most definitely is.
As I write this I am on the train heading South back into England – if you don’t understand how this is a difference, read up on the United Kingdom – and this post is going slow as I just keep looking out the windows at all of the beautiful scenery that surrounds me. Everything is beautiful, and mind you this is Dec. 2. Sure, not all of the leaves are green at this time, but the overcast skies, the rolling hills, the green pastures, it is everything you’ve ever heard of Scotland, and I didn’t even make it into the Highlands.
In the picture above you will see a view from the train, so excuse the quality, but in the gallery below you will see some of the pics I shot while in Edinburgh. The hills that exist inside of the city’s limits are impressive, but so is the architecture and the people. True, I stayed mainly to the tourist areas, and I have no delusions that every single person in Edinburgh is nice, but I sure didn’t meet any of the nasty ones.
Something that was mind boggling to me was that it seemed every place you went, whether it was the building or the business that occupied it, everything had a history. I kept mostly to Old Town, but from what I knew of New Town, it wasn’t exactly that “new.” Yes, there are new buildings being constructed, and I saw several cranes in the skyline. Heck, even I was staying in a new development called the Quartermile, so it isn’t as if the city is just surviving only on its history. It is developing and modernizing itself, but also while respecting its past. (and as if on cue, the train just passed an enormous wind farm.)
Coming from the U.S., with only a few notable exceptions, we seem obsessed with tearing things down and building the newest and greatest. Yes, it’s always nice to have the newest modern amenities, but perhaps we’re cheating ourselves of creating a history. Yes, we have moments such as the Civil War – a topic one of my cab drivers in Edinburgh was keen to discuss with me – in our past, but what about creating a truly rich tapestry of history for future generations? While we acknowledge things such as World War II, and rightfully so, has there been that much history generated in the U.S. since the Civil War? Yes, of course there were things such as the Dust Bowl, but that was an all encompassing event as opposed to something locked down to a specific place. There was of course the space race and so on, but when you look at the overall picture, it seems lacking somehow.
But I digress, Scotland is what this post is about, and more specifically Edinburgh. As regular readers know, this is my third trip to the U.K. in as many years, and I have to say that each year I walk away feeling like I still haven’t gotten to the heart of this nation. I am always left wanting more. I’ve still yet to make it to Ireland. I would like to go further North into the Highlands. Perhaps explore more of the South outside of London and see areas such as Cardiff in Wales.
I’ve been asked by many people why I don’t go to other countries on these vacations, and I have to say that it is mainly because there is just so much here. Sure I’m not trying to become an expert on the U.K., but I would enjoy learning as much about it as I can, and experiencing it. If anything, there are times where it almost feels like I’m looking into the origin story of the U.S. Revolutionary War aside, this is where the foundations of the U.S. came from. And it is here that I can sit down in a pub for lunch that has existed on the same spot since before the Mayflower departed for Plymouth Rock.
Scotland proved to me why my strategy works. I learned more in the two days I was there than I could have possibly learned from any one spot in the U.S.
In short: Visit Scotland. It’s awesome.