The Scotland Experience

The+Scotland+Experience

Jack Kramer, News Editor

I board the plane at Stewart Airport in New York at nine o’clock in the evening. The plane’s “unlimited” wifi lets me watch exclusively live Norwegian news programming and nothing else. I try to sleep the rest of the way there, waking up only when the flight attendants come with food. When I open my eyes and look out the window at nine o’clock in the morning, the first thing that I notice is the bluest sky I’ve ever seen, along with the patchwork of green, yellow, and reddish fields miles below me. I have arrived in Scotland.

For ten days in August I journeyed to the great nation of Scotland, a member of the United Kingdom, immersing myself in the culture and getting to know the history of the fascinating country. The first three days were spent in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, known for its numerous historical and cultural attractions. While in Edinburgh, I visited Edinburgh Castle, one of the oldest medieval fortresses in all of the United Kingdom. The castle overlooks the city below, providing a spectacular panoramic view of the other buildings and surrounding landscapes.

I also climbed all two hundred eighty-seven steps of the Scott Monument, a monument to author Sir Walter Scott, strolled through the Royal Botanic Gardens, and viewed original works of art by Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh at the Scottish National Gallery. I took a tour through the Palace of Holyroodhouse where Mary Queen of Scots lived and where the Queen of England spends the early summer months.

Edinburgh is filled with spectacular architecture and breathtaking sights in every direction. Furthermore, I had the pleasure of being in the city during the Festival Fringe, the world’s largest art festival. More commonly referred to simply as The Fringe, the festival allows anyone to participate, bringing together a wide variety of performances, from comedy to acting and singing. People would perform in the streets, creating an environment filled with energy, perfect for walking throughout the city or enjoying a traditional Scottish meal of tatties (potatoes) and neeps (turnips) outside a pub.

Ramsey High School Social Studies teacher Mr. Willever traveled to Scotland while on vacation with his family. He spent three days in Edinburgh, enjoying The Fringe, climbing Arthur’s Seat, a cliff overlooking the city, and haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made from the various organs of a sheep, that Mr. Willever said he actually enjoyed. When asked about his experience, Mr. Willever said, “Scotland is a beautiful place with great people, great hospitality, and something for everyone.”

I took the train out of Edinburgh on the fourth day, journeying through the beautiful countryside on my way to Inverness, the largest city in Scotland known as the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. I visited Culloden Battlefield, home to one of the bloodiest battles fought on Scottish soil and the ending of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. I travelled twenty-three miles south of Inverness to Loch Ness, the location of the famous Loch Ness Monster. Sadly, I did not spot Nessie, as the locals call her, under the waves, but I did get to see the ruins of Urquhart Castle, which is situated on a small peninsula on the Loch.

My last stop was St. Andrews, the city in which the sport of golf was invented. In fact, the oldest golf course in the world, created along the coast of the city, is still in use today. While in St. Andrews I toured St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral and had the best gelato of my life at Jannettas Gelateria. I ate my way through the city, buying berry scones, fish and chips, and Scottish burgers. My last day was spent taking the train back to Edinburgh airport and getting on my flight back home.

Scotland may not be the most exotic vacation destination, but it definitely is one of the most interesting places in the world, providing something for everybody. Whether you are into history, art, good food, or beautiful landscapes, it can all be found in Scotland.