I’ve fallen in love with Scotland

I’ve fallen in love with Scotland

Scotland is unlike any place I have ever been to. I’ve fallen in love and I could easily live there.

At first I wasn’t sure if it had something to do with my heritage or not. That was until I went to Scotland with my partner; who is of Greek decent, and he too felt the same way about Scotland as I did.

We fell in love with both land and the people and joked on a regular basis on how easy it would be to pack up and leave Australia to live there. There is something rather addictive in nature when you’re exploring the great lands of Scotland, making this beautiful country very easy to fall in love with. And not just the rugged landscapes, but their cities as well.

Similiar in nature to the Irish, the Scots are warming and incredibly welcoming to anyone who travels where, even if you are a Sassanach; a term used by the Scots prior to the 19th century, for anyone not from Scotland. mostly used as a reference towards the English, but widely used for any foreigner in Scotland. And although I fell in love with Ireland and its people, there was something different about the way I felt whilst travelling around Scotland, a sense of being home you might say. I know it sounds all very fanciful and too wonderful to be true, but I kid you not, there is a real sense of being home when you’re in Scotland.

And from a historical sense, genetics could explain why so many foreigners do in-fact go to Scotland and immediately fall in love. You only need to look at Scotland’s history to know the lands were once occupied by many Europeans. From the French, to the Germans, The mixed races of the Saxtons and the Danes, the list is almost endless, on how many people; from a wide variety of cultures, made Scotland their home. And, I have no doubt, there is a little bit of Scot in all of us – somewhere. I even met a Scottish born Indian, who runs a cocktail bar in Edinburgh, who’s parents migrated to India over 40 years ago. Well established in Scotland now, he loves his country and has no desire to ever live in India. As he told me: “Have you ever been to India? It’s so hot and there are too many people.” Which of course had be laughing in hysterics. Didn’t Raj from the Big Bang Theory say the exact same thing LOL. He told me how his parents first came to Scotland for a holiday and fell in love with the land and the people (sound familiar) and decided it would be the prefect country to move to and start a family.

So, you see. It’s not just me, or my partner, who has fallen in love with this amazing country. From their misty highland mountains which speak legends of old, to the ghostly architecture of their cities, Scotland could easily be a place to call home. But, don’t just take my word for it – you have to go see it for yourself.

 

I got the chance to channel my inner Outlander, whilst exploring the Scottish Highlands

I got the chance to channel my inner Outlander, whilst exploring the Scottish Highlands

If you’re a fan of the television show Outlander, then you must book yourself a self driving trip through the highland mountains of Scotland.

I had only been to Scotland once before, and that was to visit Edinburgh and Stirling. This time around; when visiting again with my partner, we added the Scottish Highlands to the list, and in particular The great Lochness.And although we didn’t find any monster lurking in the dark waters of the Lochness, it was the most spectacular sight to see. I’ve dreamed of visiting the Lochness since I was a child, so to finally visit was just the most amazing experience. Next time I visit Scotland (as I’m pretty sure I’ll be back), I definitely want to stay in one of the cute little waterside villages along the Lochness.

Edinburgh is an easy city to fall in love with, from the people, to the food, the history and of course the stunning architecture, it’s a difficult place not to fall in love with. So, of course it makes sense the rest of Scotland would also be just as stunning and friendly. And, it really was. Especially as you started to head further north towards Inverness. Of course, being a huge fan of the book series Outlander (and the now television series), I couldn’t resist sneaking in a few iconic places from the story to visit.

If you are ever travelling to Scotland, whether it be to Edinburgh, or Glasgow, I seriously recommend renting a car and driving up north through the highlands. My only advise is, to make sure it’s spring or summer when you do this. We went in Winter, and although the scenery was spectacular, with snow everywhere. It was super cold and difficult to enjoy a lot of the scenic drives through the highlands, as it was just snow, snow and then more snow LOL. A lot of places were also closed for the season because of this, especially in the smaller towns. I’d love to go back in springtime, when you could do more exploring and I would also stay overnight in a lot of the cute little highland towns. They were super adorable in the snow, I can only image what they would look like in the spring.

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Culloden Battlefields
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Sunrise over the Lochness
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Highland Countryside
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Highland Countryside
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Waterside villages of Lochness

 

 

If you have never been to Stirling, you should go – it’s amazing

If you have never been to Stirling, you should go – it’s amazing

Only a short distance from Edinburgh, Stirling is an incredible city shrouded in fog and an ancient castle which sits on a cliff.

For a tourist, Stirling is a difficult place not to fall in love with. And for the Scots, Stirling represents more than just ancient stories of legend and medieval history. It represents the heart of Scotland. Once known as the capital of Scotland; before Edinburgh, Stirling is where legendary William Wallace gave back hope to the Scottish people, when he stood with Robert the Bruce and fought back the English at Stirling Bridge. The battle of Stirling bridge was the first war of Scottish Independence, where the forces of Andrew Moray and William Wallace defeated the English forces on 11 September 1297.

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Stirling Bridge

Known as the gateway to the highlands, it has has been often quoted that ‘He who Holds Stirling, Holds Scotland.’ This is because of its key position and location, which is at the lowest bridging point of the River Forth, before it broadens towards the Firth of Forth; making it a focal point of travel when going either North or South.

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The beautiful town of Stirling – Absolutely fell in love.

It’s in Stirling the reputation of William Wallace both began and ended. And a strong reason, why many Scots; and tourists, flock to Stirling in droves each year. Respect for the warrior who fought for the independence of Scotland is remembered strongly. When you wander the streets, you feel his presence in the people everywhere you look and turn. It’s an incredible feeling to experience and I highly recommend anyone who is travelling to Scotland to take the time and visit Stirling. Especially to visit the incredible memorial built in tribute for this once great man.

With the essence of this great town (or city rather), and the beautiful people who live here, I fell in love with Stirling the moment I arrived. If and when I ever visit Scotland again, I will most definitely visit Stirling again. And instead of only staying the day, next time I will spend at least a few days, so not to rush my time spent in this magical place.

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William Wallace Memorial (sorry the image is hazy – it was very very foggy here).

 

5 reasons why I love Ireland so much

5 reasons why I love Ireland so much

Sharing my top 5 reasons to why I love Ireland so much

The People:

Don’t listen to what anyone says about the Irish, they are super friendly and make for great conversation. Especially if you have an accent from another country, they love to share a yarn or to about their beautiful country and tell a tale of a time long ago. Just don’t mention anything about Politics LOL. As you may never get them to shut up. They love sharing with you their political views on pretty much everything. And as much as I love a good political debate with someone, when the Irish start getting real passionate about a topic, their accent gets richer and they become harder to understand.

The Landscape:

The landscape of Ireland is nothing short of awe inspiring and there is no wonder why so many films and television shows are filmed in the incredible landscapes Ireland has to offer. Movies such as Braveheart and television shows such as Vikings are all filmed at a variety of locations across Ireland. Even Star Wars used Ireland for many of their scenes in all of their movies, from original to current. The landscape can vary from desolate mountain ranges where trees don’t grow and mini alps are topped with snow, to rocky green cliffs and rolling green pastures. Seriously picturesque.

The Castles:

When driving through Ireland from county to county you find you are never too far from a castle or medieval church. They are literally everywhere you look. Especially when you take the back roads. And where a lot of them are marked on the historical maps of exploration for Ireland, many are not and you need to discover them on your own. Of course many of these castles and churches are located on private property. But here’s a tip, you can actually enter the property to view the castles and churches, as long as no land is destroyed and no livestock are disturbed in the process.

The Food:

Believe it or not, the food in Ireland is fantastic. They have really stepped up these last few years and are becoming quite the foodie nation. We had no problems finding good, quality and healthy food, with a large serving of greens. Which for those of you who know me well, you know I love a good serving of mixed greens LOL. Everywhere you go, there are great restaurants where you can order 4-5 star quality food at a very reasonable price. I’m also huge cafe lover, so, I was happy to see Ireland offered a great choice in cafe cuisine, serving great coffee and trendy eats.

The Impressive Estates:

Much like the castles and churches, everywhere you look, there is an abandoned Estate, boasting lush green landscapes and stunning old mansions. And where some are owned by the Irish Government and only opened certain times throughout the year, there are many located on private property. And again, like the castles and the churches, you are allowed to enter these properties on foot, so you can go explore these incredible houses. Just remember to park somewhere out of the way, don’t ruin the grounds and definitely stay away from the livestock, so not to stress them out and you’re good to go.

And there you have it, 5 great things about Ireland which I absolutely loved.