What’s it like visiting Scotland for the first time? In our fifth and final roundup of #Blogmanay, the real-time Hogmanay celebrations on social media, let’s find out from Melvin Bloecher AKA @traveldudes who should know – #Blogmanay was his first ever trip to our bonnie country! Melvin is from Germany and runs well-known travel portal Traveldudes.org and he’s travelled widely – let’s see how Scotland and #Blogmanay compare! Here are his top 5 impressions of Scotland:
My first impression
My first impression was…Sunny! Who would have expected that? Not I and I guess you wouldn’t either. I was really looking forward to visit Edinburgh and Scotland. My parents have been twice and my good friend Kash the @BudgetTraveller who lives in Edinburgh has been inviting me for years. I just hadn’t been able to make it so far. One reason for that was the weather. I get cold quickly and if I travel to a destination that could be freezing, I prefer to have a snowboard beneath my feet!
Then I heard the first time about Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, which I was told is one of the biggest New Year celebrations. I had never heard about it before. Incredible, right?
So there I was… in Edinburgh and the sun was shining! During the 10 days of #Blogmanay I saw the sun many more times than in the 2 months before that, back home in Germany!
How crazy are Scots?! Until now I had thought that Germany is the place to be to celebrate the New Year. I’ve been to many places around the world for New Year and have always been quite disappointed, also in England. In Germany people go out, have their own fireworks and party the whole night until the sun rises and they do it all over Germany, not just in 2, 3 cities. Again I have to ask… How crazy are Scots?
They start celebrating the New Year already a day before and keep on partying for a total of 3 days! Wow! Respect! Hogmanay is really a trip I would recommend to everyone and an event you should experience.
On the 30th I took part in the torch light procession, where a group of bagpipe players marched through the city and lots of folks followed them with torches. That was an amazing atmosphere, especially when I looked back and saw an endless line of people lightening the streets with their torches.
The fireworks were quite short, compared to many others I’ve seen, but they were beautiful. Fireworks usually don’t fascinate me much, but this one did. Having scenery like in Edinburgh and then fireworks above the skyline… Not bad!
The city was crowded and people know how to party! I went to the Keilidh for a bit and the people had so much fun dancing together. I wondered how people cope with the day after. I found out about that, too! They seriously jump into freezing water! I guess it’s the best cure for hangovers?
Between the famous and wonderful Forth Bridges, you’ll find Queensferry and that’s where over 1,000 people jump into the river Forth, which is freezing cold! But it’s not they “just” get wet; they do it in style, dressing up in funny (some more, some less) costumes. Lucky me – I had no hangover and didn’t need that refreshment. Those folks were shivering getting out of the water, but they had a fun time and enjoyed it!
I wrote about the Loony Dook on Traveldudes, but there were many more Hogmanay events in and around Edinburgh and I’m sure that you would find something different and of interest as well.
Scottish hospitality and Scottish people
The people were welcoming us warmly and right away I realised how much they love their place and how proud they are to be Scottish. It’s similar with my home town Cologne and I love when people are so much behind their country. OK, that bus driver wasn’t that friendly, as he didn’t give me the change back. Hahaha! I quickly found out that this is part of their ticket system :)
We did a 3 day round trip by bus with Haggis Adventures, where we started on the East Coast and went straight through and all the way to the Isle of Skye. On the second day we started early in the morning and I was quite tired and felt like sleeping, but how can you close your eyes when driving through the Highlands? All the time I felt like I would miss something spectacular. I positioned myself right behind the driver, so that I had the “bus panorama view”, watching the landscape in front of me, to my left and to my right.I had seen quite a few photos of Scotland on travel blogs and also in the movies. The landscape and nature was the main reason for me to visit Scotland. So I knew more or less what to expect…I thought. But the moment I was in the middle of the Highlands, it was so much more overwhelming. The hills were so smooth and much higher than I thought. The landscape had this brown colour and was on the other hand still so colourful in its own way. I wish I had had more time to go hiking, but there was no time, as there was just so much more to see. So it’s on my to-do list to get back and to walk around the Highlands.
On the 3rd day and on the way back to Edinburgh, the road we had chosen was suddenly closed and we had to take a detour of around 2 hours. So a 5 minute Highland drive got us another 115 minutes! How fab is that? We were able to see even more and were really lucky to see another wonderful sunset. Talking about sunsets and sunrises…I love Scotland in winter! Finally I was able to capture how the sun rises with my camera! Usually it’s too early for me to do that but 8.30 am was perfect and even gave me some time to have a coffee beforehand.
What I didn’t know (but do now)
I didn’t know that wearing skirts is actually so cool…even in winter! Sorry for calling them “skirts” and not “kilts”, but I just like to have my little joke with myself :). But the Scots got me into it! On New Year’s Eve I wore a complete outfit and I really was surprised that it was warmer than I thought. I was also surprised how many people wore them and not just for Hogmanay. That again showed me how proud the Scots are and I think I understand a bit more now why that is, even with my short trip to Scotland. It doesn’t surprise me that you find results on Twitter, when searching for #LoveScotland
Thank you Melvin! Haste ye back!