Back in September 2016, my wife Rochelle and I took our first trip from Charlottesville, Virginia to Scotland and immediately fell in love with the country. We did a fairly long trip of 14 days and covered almost 1,250 miles.
During that trip some cheeky ‘observations’ I made about our time in Scotland went viral on Facebook group Scotland From The Roadside and were picked up by the Daily Record and The Scotsman. So it seemed remiss not to follow up with more from our latest trip earlier this year. Check our our three part travelogue from the trip too, to find out what we got up to. Read on for Part One, Two and Three.
Scotland’s Highways and Byways
- On a single-track road, if you pull into a ‘Passing Place’ to let traffic go by, you’ll always get a friendly wave. Lovely. Why don’t we do this?
- Roundabouts are awesome. We have few in the States. I spend 5 minutes a day sitting at red lights in the US. That’s 30 hours a year. If I live to be 76 (started driving at 16), I will have spent 62 days of my life simply sitting at red lights.
- Yes, your car might have cruise control, but you’ll rarely use it. All driving here is ‘pay attention driving’, hands at 10:00 and 2:00 o’clock. If you are religious, praying also helps.
- Nobody ever honked their car horn at me, even though I probably deserved it several times.
- Potholes on roads are a contentious issue. I enjoyed practicing my ‘emergency steering’ skills.
- Many towns and villages have an exit road sign that says ‘Thank You For Driving Carefully’, which I love. In the US our signs say ‘Next McDonalds 7.6 miles’.
- Many Scottish road construction areas have friendly signs saying ‘Free Recovery – Await Rescue’ with a little tow truck symbol and a cell number. In the US, our signs simply say ‘Please Have Your Credit Card Handy’.
- Petrol is slightly less expensive than whisky!
Food & Drink
- Whisky should always be drunk neat. There are no exceptions.
- Many Scottish restaurants (and B&Bs) offer a ‘Full English Breakfast’. I think this should be renamed ‘A Full Scottish Breakfast’. You are in Scotland, right? I’m thinking of starting an English breakfast-exit referendum. (Yes, sorry that was a terrible joke.)
- Walkers Shortbread is delicious. Not as delicious as Cullen Skink, single malt or haggis – but still delicious.
Holidaying in Scotland …
- There are thousands of musical instruments across the world, but the bagpipes pluck at your heart and emotions like no other.
- Scotland is the most LGBT-friendly country I’ve ever visited. In 2015 and 2016 it was recognized as the ‘best country in Europe’ for LGBTI legal equality. This makes me smile.
- A tourist with a ‘selfie stick’ on the Royal Mile is more dangerous than Wallace with his great sword.
- Scotland’s National Animal (the unicorn) is fictional. I like fictional and more of this please.
- If you are a tourist (raises hand) 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 coins mean you will be dragging one stone (14 pounds) of coins around with you, with no idea of how to get rid of them.
- During the summer in Scotland, sunset is at 11pm and sunrise is at 1am (ok, tiny exaggeration).
- In hotels, Scottish toilets have a little flush button and a big flush button. The big one is pretty amazing. I like to call it the ‘Make It Go Away Button’. You rarely see these in America.
- Scots like to place their light switches on the outside of a room. Many times I fumbled in the dark for a light switch inside a hotel bathroom that wasn’t there.
- People in Scotland think most rich people are rude. I’d agree with this.
- A gentleman in Glasgow told me “We don’t work on Saturdays. Family and leisure time is more important to us.” The world should follow this example.
- They always say it’s good luck if you are married on a rainy day. Therefore Scotland is THE place to get married!
- Scotland is filled with public telephones (red booths), and the phones actually work. Such a thing does not exist in the US any more. In outlying areas we noticed that many phone booths were equipped with automated external defibrillators, which is super smart.
Speak like a Scot!
- In certain spots of Scotland you will have a delightful conversation with a Scot, but understand little of what was said. Nodding and smiling seems to work fine though. It’s like going to Japan.
- The three most popular adjectives in Scotland are: wee, brilliant and rubbish (Scottish law dictates that one of these must be used in every conversation!). In America, it’s awesome, suck and crap.
- I learned a new one on this trip ‘gaun yersel’ – which means ‘go for it’. I’m still mystified as to what ‘puggled’, ‘slaister’ and ‘wee bauchle’ mean though!
- In Aberdeenshire, I heard ‘aye aye, fit like?’ a few times and simply stood there with a dumb expression on my face (my default expression). Now I know it means ‘hello, how are you?’
- ‘Tapps Aff’ apparently means it’s very warm. We had a couple of days that were 32C (90F), but never experienced ‘tapps aff’ – this therefore must only occur when it’s 37C (100F)!
- When Scots swear, they swear with emphasis. F-bombs are crisp and throaty when they drop.
All in all, thanks to the people of Scotland for welcoming us back with open arms – we made so many new friends (the best part of any trip, anywhere). So, if you are ever in Charlottesville, Virginia, our home is open to you. With much love and affection!
Christian & Rochelle DeBaun