Aye! You’re thinking about going to Scotland!What a perfect getaway, especially since the dollar is getting stronger against the pound.Scotland is an amazing country with many diverse regions, and easy enough to get around, preferably by public transportation since they drive on the other side of the road.
I was in Scotland for the kickoff of Homecoming which coincided with Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burn’s 250th anniversary.Homecoming is aimed at motivating people of Scottish decent, as well as those who simply love Scotland, to come home in 2009 and take part in an inspirational celebration of the culture, heritage, and the many great contributions Scotland has given to the world.Celtic Connections hosted music events throughout Scotland to celebrate the festivities at great performance venues such as the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow.
After a quick six hour flight on Continental Airlines, I was in the bustling city of Glasgow.Glasgow is a fun and hip city with great shops, restaurants and bars, along with museums, galleries, and the famous Glasgow School of Art.The main shopping districts in City Centre consist of Princes Square with lots of designer shops, Buchanan Street, the main shopping strip in Glasgow with all types of stores and a mall, and Merchant City.Merchant City is one of the oldest quarters of Glasgow and the cultural heart of the city with numerous restaurants, design shops, and galleries.While there are plenty of buses to take you around Glasgow, I suggest exploring on foot so you can take in the character of each section of the city.Plus, when you get turned around like I did, everyone is so helpful and friendly when asked for directions.
From Glasgow, you can take less than an hour train ride from Queen Street to Edinburgh for around 10 pounds.I highly suggest making this part of your itinerary.As the capital of Scotland, this remarkable city has a breathtaking historical skyline consisting of the famous castle, stately homes, medieval chapels, the parliament, and the Queen’s palace.Extending down the royal mile from the castle is a mix of traditional and contemporary shops.Kenny Hanley, a Scottishman and tour guide for “Small World Tours” took me around Edinburgh to show me the highlights in my limited amount of time there.Kenny is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to Scotland’s traditions and history, and also a lot of fun.
If you are a big Robert Burns fan, you can trace his life in Scotland by starting in Ayr and visiting the Burns National Heritage Park and stepping inside his cottage where he grew up.While in Ayr, we were treated to a piping parade in celebration of the Robert Burns weekend.Did you know that a good majority of the cashmere made for major labels is made in Scotland? You can get a tour of Begg Scotland, and see the process of how cashmere is made in Ayr before it ends up on the shelves of some pretty popular stores.
In order to get a good sense of the infamous poet, Robert Burns, you can visit the Burns House Museum located in Mauchline, a little town northeast of Ayr.This is the town where Burns met his wife, Jean Armour.I unfortunately only had four days to spend in such a magical country, but you should definitely leave yourself some more time to explore the other beautiful regions such as the highlands, Loch Lomand, and Stirling.
You know what they say, when in Rome…well when in Scotland, you must eat what the Scots eat, and that includes such dishes as haggis, black pudding, and smokies.
Surprisingly, I liked the haggis, despite the fact that it’s made from a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with onion, oatmeal and spices and boiled in the animal’s stomach.The music is fun, especially from one of the country’s popular bands, the “Red Hot Chili Pipers” who rock out on their bagpipes.
So if you have a few days or a week, I definitely recommend a trip to Scotland.With so much history, great shopping, and beautiful landscapes, you’ll get immersed into another culture and place in time. And as a Scottish woman told me, you can never go wrong with a man in a kilt.