When I first came to London 20-years ago, I had to 'answer the call' to visit in Scotland, so I rented a car in Edinburgh (Edin-burra) and drove up to the Highlands, the Isle of Skye and Glasgow and back over. Now, during our final stop in London on this trip, I really wanted to come back. The family is spent, but I begged and pleaded (and whined) and up we came. It is a nice four-hour ride on a high-speed train looking out on green fields, sheep and the seaside. I'll consider this my Father's Day gift - thanks everyone for making the journey for me!
And it is just as beautiful as I remembered, if not better, and we experienced a rare dry, 90-degree day here!
As we were only to be here a wee 36-hours, we only had time for the hardcore tourist stuff: The Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, New Town and Scotch. Scotland is an amazing country and I just wanted to rekindle the connection I have with this country, and to give Suzanne and the kids a taste of this oft overlooked gem.
No one in our family has ever seen Braveheart all the way through, (which is good is you hate Mel like we do), but the kids have seen Disney's Brave. The fiery warrior and military tradition is very strong in Scotland and that is evident in the displays at the Edinburgh Castle. Plus, what other nationality throws telephone poles and boulders for sport?
Surprisingly, the one thing we have seen very little of here is evidence of debate on the run-up to the key Scottish referendum vote to separate from the United Kingdom, which we were expecting to see more of. Maybe more so in the non-touristy neighborhoods? Listening to the Pro's and Con's we can't imagine it is a good thing, nor will pass. Watch the news as the vote is in early September.
What we did see by surprise was a tartan/crest shop claiming (in two different signs) that they had either 400,000 or 4 million family names on file from which to make your own tartan and crest. Now I did see a Rodriquez on the wall and a sign that specifically said "Russian and Polish too", but somehow I doubted the clan Wychocki has it's own ancient crest. Kamp maybe. Or maybe we'll make our own up with a computer, baseball bat, motorcycle, sewing machine, etc., etc.
Everything in downtown Scotland is so old and historic, but surprisingly well preserved in this normally harsher climate. In Edinburgh, the "Old Town" is from the 1200's - 1600's, and "New Town" is a new, modern European city-center design from the 1700's when the city father's wanted to get away from just being a "fort/castle" city. There is even a bar here from the 1600's (with maybe a Scotch whiskey inside aged to match?). We didn't get out to the outer neighborhoods or suburbs, but I did last time and it is perfectly modern and American-esque (subdivisions, shopping malls and all) - but with 36 hours, we could only see the tourist areas!
Maddy says she (reluctantly) liked it here because their national animal is the unicorn! How can you not like that...or Maddy for that? Or the country that invented both golf and Scotch whiskey? Hoot mon, Ye kin hae yer shamrocks 'n' claddagh rings 'n' keep yer Ireland, ah will tak' th' thistle ony time!
P.S. And speaking of taste, and also just as I remembered it 20-years ago, I really like the taste of haggis. I'm not just saying that for bragging rights, it is actually pretty good, especially if you like salty food like anchovies. It tastes like a combination of peppery sausage from Eastern Europe and heavily salted corned beef hash. Just don't Google how, and from what, it is made. Plus, I have funny tastes sometimes; for example I actually liked Shemp better than Curly!?! Anybody with me here on this? Or on haggis?
P.S.S. And on top of the million and one things I love about Suzanne (OK, a million and two now for coming to Scotland), she also is a fan of the Scotch whiskey, which we can both share after a long day. Funny though, here they don't call it Scotch (except for in the tourist shops), in local bars they just call it whiskai'.
Lastly, and definitely NSFW and NOT FOR THE KIDS...here is a clip of Robin Williams as a drunk Scotsman talking about his idea for 'inventing a new game called golf". It has lots and lots of F-bombs, so turn down the volume and enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSXMS8ABAAU