2018_08 Scotland

My first trip to Europe, thank you Scotland! We stayed in a small community about an hour north of Edinburgh called Kilconquhar. It is a coastal area and very rural. From there, we staged trips out as far south as Edinburgh, as far north as Pitlochry, as far west as Stirling and as far east as Crail and St. Andrews. It was an excellent trip to get acquainted with a large area of the country which will certainly guide my choices for a revisit! Next time it will be spending longer lengths of time at a location, to really get to know the place and people. We didn’t get to meet many people this trip.

Highlights of the trip include The Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. This is a bucket list item for so many people. I’m grateful I had a chance to go. I would really like to do a vacation to Edinburgh during the festival months to catch the Highland Games and Fringe Festival.  The city is every bit of what I would have expected – a real European city with crazy old buildings and architecture.

Aside from Edinburgh castle, which is amazing – the rest of the trip largely involved traveling to smaller towns and cities that have castles that are in various states from ruin to having been preserved so well that you can at least imagine a small bit of what life might have been like…  all of them beautiful.

I realize you can’t possibly take in everything there is to know in a single week but the bit of history I learned about Scotland gives me an incredible sense of respect for the many people who fought for their country – another amazing experience for me.

The short story is – very scenic country, lots of sheep, insane history of fighting, food is awful (which is only partly true).

So – the food.  Largely, you can get food that is very good but you’ll pay through the roof for a fine culinary experience, which we did a couple of times. If you can find places where younger (millennial generation) people are cooking, you will also be very happy.  But try and eat at long established places that serve standard fare and you’ll understand what I’m saying.  

First off, you have to try haggis and experience the repulsive feeling you get eating sheep liver, lung and whatever other organs they put in a blender and shape into an awful meatloafy thing and pass it off as anything you’d ever willfully eat.  I stuck with a strategy that most things deep fried are pretty tasty , so I opted for the haggis croquettes.  Two bites and I was done.  Actually, I was done at bite #1, but decided to reinforce the awful experience with bite #2.  Never again.

Secondly, don’t expect steak or anything that you can get cooked less than well-done to come out as anything less than well-done, regardless of how you ordered it.  That was my experience.  No seasonings, bland, well cooked meat is the way of life here, so it seems.  I hope, for the people of Scotland, that I’m absolutely wrong but that was largely my experience.  Also – know that protein is not a big part of what seems to be a Scottish diet.  Lots of fats and carbs.  Where I could enjoy a very nice soup and salad with grilled chicken, I’d say they gave me 2-3 oz. of chicken…  I’m used to making 8oz. of cooked meat with each meal!!  So that was very different.

I could carry on, but it wasn’t as big a deal as I’m making it.  I enjoyed the difference in culinary culture.

Once again, I’ll stop and let photos tell the rest of the story.  I cannot wait for a day that I return.  I have at least 3 more trips to Scotland in mind.  Festival season, getting out to the west and seeing what seems to be the most beautiful parts of the country, and the north…  experience the most northern parts of Scotland, especially the people!