I’m on day six of a two-week trip across Scotland with my husband. I know I should have been posting more, but our first stop (Glasgow) was very busy, and our second stop (Oban, on the west coast) was also busy and filled with ferry rides and tours on a few Inner Hebrides islands that were definitely not internet friendly.
This is just a post to say hello and share a handful of observations.
First, Scotland is indeed as beautiful as it looks in pictures. As longtime Texas residents, we’ve been continuously astonished by its natural glory. Between Glasgow and Oban, we drove around the stunning Loch Lomond and through part of the gorgeous Trossachs National Park. This area is definitely a summertime playground for people near and far.
While in Oban, we embarked on an 11-hour tour of three of the Inner Hebrides islands (Mull, Staffa, and Iona). The multiple ferry and boat rides involved gave us a truly singular opportunity to take in the majesty of the ocean and the many islands scattered throughout the inner Hebrides. Bus tours across Mull shared the island’s fascinating history and culture while giving us time to take in its many impressive natural features, including mountains, lochs, and a wide range of wildlife (including the iconic hairy Scottish cows, or “coos,” as the locals call them). Unfortunately, the Atlantic swells were such that we couldn’t land on Staffa (Old Norse for “pillar island”), a geological wonder with a famous musical cave. Our brave boat drivers got as close as possible, though, to give us the chance to take pictures.
Iona is a charming and picturesque island that’s often credited as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. We spent several hours touring its famed Iona Abbey, a place of worship, scholarship, and pilgrimage since the sixth century.
Oban itself is quite cute and gave us the opportunity to meet local Scots at their “locals” (their neighborhood pubs). We also met a few other Americans and ended up sharing some meals with a great California couple with which we hope to keep in touch.
Second, the Scots have overall been friendly and welcoming. We’ve enjoyed sharing some pints with locals, trading stories about our respective countries, and discussing (and sometimes debunking) stereotypes about one another. Brexit is obviously a major discussion point here, and we’ve very much appreciated the varying perspectives we’ve heard regarding that particular political situation.
Finally, the history tucked into every nook and cranny of this country is a dream for a history lover like myself. The famous Stirling Castle was one of our first stops, and it blew me away – as did the William Wallace Monument across the river valley from the castle. The valley is important for the Battle of Stirling Bridge, where Wallace (aka Braveheart) defeated a much larger English force in one of many battles during the Scottish war for independence. Walking those sites is simply awe-inspiring and humbling.
I plan to write several posts about specific places and subjects of historical interest; jamming historical summaries of what we’ve seen so far into this post wouldn’t do them the justice they deserve. So, please look out for those upcoming posts.
We’re on our way to the Isle of Skye, where we’re staying for two nights before heading off to Inverness. I look forward to sharing even more of this incredible country with you!
With love from Scotland,
P.S. I have many more photos of beautiful places to share. Stay tuned!