For a while I’d told myself that if I were to ever see Europe, one of my top picks would be Scotland. It’s got mountains, history and whiskey. Also, I’m a quarter Scottish, going 5 grandpa’s back to the Isle of Skye, and figured there’d be a kilt or tartan someone along my family tree. So for a while, this is where the idea stood, until last year when my father passed away. It sparked some soul searching, and I’d figured it was time to take Mom on a proper European vacation. So we were Scotland bound.
The plan was to start in Glasgow, and then looping clockwise around the country until we ended back at Glasgow airport. The plan looked great on Google maps, and I was able to hastily plan a few lodging options along the way. Even had the rental car set up to take us on the high and low roads across “Caledonia.” So we flew the 7 hours from Philly to Glasgow, and weary-eyed, made our ways into the heart of town.
It should be said I like English, Scottish and Irish accents. I guess the term is “anglophile“. I practice them poorly when I’m driving along, and I’ve gotten quite good at them in my own mind. So one of the first experiences I was anticipating was getting around a bunch of Anglo “blokes” and absorbing the multitude of accents. Also, I’d started reading up on Scottish history and culture, and learned well in advance that Tartans and Kilts are really a century-old attempt at merchandising Scotland’s culture to others, so I knew that there were more tourist gimmicks than true artifacts and memorabilia of Scotland.
To sum up the trip, the first day we stayed around Glasgow, did some walking and finished the evening at a local pub. When you’re awake for 30 hours, alcohol really just heightens your state of delirium. On the second day, we lost the key to the rental car. This was considerable cause for panic, but after being assured this was only a matter of 80 to 150 pounds (up to $225) and a 2 or more days wait, we changed course and stuck to day trips from the city. We toured more of Glasgow that day, and I ended the evening at a pub with 2 Scottsmen, and Englishman and a Palestinian. Good group, bought some rounds, got sick on port wine. Day 3, we took a bus tour of Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and a Whiskey Distillery. By the end of that day, we found the car key (in my mom’s purse), and after reflecting on the experiences so far and the options ahead, decided it was best to make our fourth day in Scotland our last.