My Favorite Place
Scotland! Scotland! Scotland!
Images of wild green hills, misty glens, and romantic Scots in plaid kilts had been dancing through my mind for months. Did I mention that it was watching Outlander that put the bee in my bonnet to visit Scotland? While, I never met Jaime or Claire, I have fallen in love with the country’s history, people, and culture. The accent certainly wasn’t off-putting either. I knew the moment I landed in Edinburgh on May 24th, 2015 that I was in a country that spoke to my very soul. As a native Chicagoan, I hadn’t grown up experiencing many rolling hills. Frankly I got shin splints “hiking” around San Francisco two years earlier. Despite my lack of endurance, I loved hiking through the remains of Caisteal Maol from the 15th century on the Isle of Sky. A Swedish couple warned me that I may slip because I was wearing converse shoes and of course they were right but the view while laying on my back was lovely. I find the ruggedness of the terrain and weather enticing because like the “Water of Life” that is whisky is not for everyone. You have to be tough to enjoy both.
Being the consummate American suburbanite, my first trip to Scotland was marked with a lot of slipping on paths, both grass and cobblestoned, along with getting lost despite my belief that I’m good at reading maps. Fair warning to anyone who goes to summit Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. If you try to follow the path that winds around the front of the park, you’ll just end up walking for an hour to realize you’ve never actually ascended at all and have to start over again, just from the other side of the park. But the view makes the climb worth every step.
That’s one of the best parts of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole. It’s a bustling city but you can still find yourself at a tourist attraction and still feel like you’re the only one experiencing this fairytale land. Walking along the Royal Mile, you come across a small alley labeled Advocate's Close. Advocate Close! What a fantastic, Harry Potteresque name! And at the bottom of never ending stairs, you find the most delicious restaurant named what else but Devil's Advocate. You can drive for ages on the back roads of the Isle of Skye without crossing anyone else besides feral sheep. Until of course you do run into someone and you find yourself holding your breath in an attempt to make your car thinner while passing a truck.
I am lucky enough to have been to Scotland twice so far and can't wait to go back. I've only begun to scratch the surface of all the treasures Scotland has to offer. Number one on my Scottish Bucket List is visiting the Balvenie distillery. Fingers crossed that I can report on that experience in the next year!