Friday, April 14, 2017


My connection to the lovely country of Scotland runs deeper than a plane ticket and a rental car. Prior to my lifespan, my family spent a fair bit of time living and working in the Edinburgh area, long enough for my sister to be born abroad from our normal home in the United States. Although my first trip to Scotland was before I can remember, a more recent jaunt overseas has left me with lasting impressions of a place that could have been my temporary home, were I born just a couple of years earlier. Scotland is a very atmospheric place, with quaint towns, majestic lochs, and a rich history represented in castles of varying degrees of preservation. My family’s expedition from East to West took us from the busy streets of Edinburgh to the quiet simplicity of Iona and back, with much to see in between. Maybe it was just the summer climate, but the time that I was there gave me the impression that Scotland is a country of green. The fields of the countryside, the mountains of the glens, even the rocky coastline crags seem to have their fair share of lush green pigment that makes for a picturesque setting. Being a Michigan native, I am quite used to large bodies of water, but the lochs that we visited (Loch Ness, Loch Shiel, and passing glances at several others) were very different than the lakes of other regions. I can remember sitting up on a hill near the Glenfinnan Viaduct (a landmark Harry Potter fans might recognize) and being awestruck by the gently sloping mountains that gave way to the dark waters of Loch Shiel. So much of Scotland is untouched by development, beyond the odd house here and there, that it has a mystical and calming atmosphere nearly anywhere you go. Being the mountain lover that I am, I was disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to climb the elevated plateaus of Glen Coe, although simply driving through the valleys was wondrous in and of itself. Our last stop before turning around to return to the East coast was the isle of Iona. Accessible only by ferry, Iona is a small island that harbors an old Abbey, famed as the source of Christianity in Scotland, and has a small but thriving community of islanders to support the frequent visitor to the Abbey who seek a break from their regular lives. Of course, a view of Scotland would not be complete without mentioning the sheep. We would joke about the frequency of sheep along our drive… “If you look to your left you will see sheep, to your right… more sheep!” Yet another quirk that adds to the unique beauty of Scotland.

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