In my first 12 hours in Scotland, I heard bagpipes, saw 2 men wearing kilts & encountered a herd of ginger-headed boys. Having checked off all the stereotypes, I should have just gotten on the plane to come back home.
Instead, I stayed another 9 days.
Mainly to marvel at the vast Scottish landscape – which at any given turn of the road feels like driving through the Himalayas (my happy place), the plains of Montana, the forests of Vermont / Michigan / northern California or the farmlands of Pennsylvania.
At one point, I ran / skipped / jumped across a bunch of large rocks like I was Luigi from Super Mario Bros circa 1987 all to cross the river to hike to waterfalls that are 120 metres tall. Yes, metres. It's the UK.
Not really sure if they measure distance in miles or kilometres though. Which means I've either been going the speed limit or driving like I'm a geriatric on her way to the Senior Citizen Center.
Rather than Luigi-ing it back to civilization, I walked a metal tightrope over the ravine across the aforementioned river while holding onto 2 cables for balance. Don't be too impressed. It was only 10 feet – which sounds more impressive than 3 metres cause 10 > 3 – above the water.
A roadtrip for an American on foreign soil has a few pitfalls.
Filling up the gas – sorry petrol – is difficult for this Jersey girl who always sat in the comfort of her car while other humans did all the pressing of the buttons & nozzle handling. Although Scottish Shell Siri is a chatty woman in an obvious sort of way with her "You've selected diesel fuel" & almost motherly "Please refuel safely."
Renting an automatic doesn't mean one will be driving an automatic. It actually means driving a manual without the actual manual stick. Translation: the car doesn't pick up speed by simply stepping on the gas – sorry petrol – hard. The car also seemingly turns off when stopped too long to join the fun that is a roundabout. If it was a true manual, it would mean the car stalled. But it's what non-Americans call an automatic, so upon hitting the gas – sorry petrol – the car simply starts up again. Automatically.
Establishments I did not frequent, but should have
Hootananny / Where the Monkey Sleeps / Two Fat Ladies
Most touristy, yet most British thing possible
Not able to cross the street cause Prince Willie's motorcade had to go by first. Apparently, the future King of England gets right of way over a British-born citizen who defected to America only to return to frolick around the kingdom.
Scottish word of the day
When the temperature climbs above nippy & the sun comes out longer than an hour, the men take off their shirts. Of course, they haven't encountered the great orange orb in the sky that often so they have no concept of SPF. They all range from a pleasant shade of pink to a painful shade of red. And they do this everywhere. The park / the pub / the front passenger seat of an Uber. It's not a sight one wants to see. Cause in the infamous words of one of our waitresses, "Once you've seen it, you can't unsee it."