This past weekend I spent three whole days traveling on a bus with a bearded driver and 15 other classmates / peers throughout all of Scotland. Our trip, put on by my school, called the “Scotland Skye High Trip” explored the immense countryside of the northern UK. We started in Edinburgh on Thursday afternoon to explore the castle and area before catching a good nights sleep to prepare for the weekend to come. At 8:30 the next morning, our trip leader Tracy declared that the bus was there and we were greeted by a giant, bright yellow bus with “Wild & Sexy” branded on the side of it. Our guide, Dave, had a red beard about seven inches long and a very intense undercut with a man-bun and all. His accent was the hardest thing I have ever had to decipher, but pretty soon it was sounding normal and familiar. We piled into the horridly yellow bus and set off to northern Scotland.
The weekend would include castle exploring, battle-ground reenactments, mountain stories, and hairy cow (or Hairy Cooooos) spotting. We made the trek all the way up to the Isle of Skye where we learned about deforestation with a more positive twist, verses the “fresh farming” of salmon in the area as well. We gazed upon the Atlantic ocean while teetering on a cliff, found waterfalls and rapids that we took sips from only to spit on a “special” rock and make a wish that the faeries would grant.
Here are some of things that I learned while exploring the Scottish heritage I don’t have:
1) Haggis is good: I never thought I would ever say those words, but for my study abroad experience, I have decided to never say no (unless I am scared shitless or allergic). So when haggis was brought to our table Thursday night and I was enquired if I was going to try it, I couldn’t deny. I walked into that situation fully knowing what haggis is and expecting it to taste horridly, but honestly? It tasted like richer ground beef. That was it. I don’t think I want to eat it every day, or even again in a little while, but I was surprised that I was even able to swallow it.
2) Patriotism: If you think that America is the most patriotic country, then you are wrong. The Scots are actually scary with their amount of patriotism. Our bus donned two different Scottish flags (the countries flag and the royal flag), we stopped at all of these different places of battle and memorials of all fallen Scots, which was both sad and amazing to see and hear about.
3) That being said, they don’t like Americans: Now, this is a little harsh because I have proof that our bus driver very much so enjoyed our company. However, whenever we would enter a cafe or little store in any of the little towns we stopped in, I could tell that the shopkeepers were not happy to see a group of Americans walk in. Perhaps it is because we were a larger group, which is irritating enough, but not only that, we were tourists. I believe that since they are so proud about their own country, no other country can stand up to them. They don’t want to have to deal with people who are “foreigners” (sounds like America honestly) because they probably have heard or seen Americans acting like “Americans.”
4) Their accent is awesome: The Scottish accent is the hardest accent I have ever heard. The German language is a harsh language, at least most people think so, but even it has words that come off softer like the translation of “pillow” which is “die Kissen.” But any word that comes out with a Scottish accent attached to it, sounds so harsh to the ears. Every word includes a view drops of spit as it rolls off the tongue and gets forced into the air. Violent is the only word I can use to describe the Scotts accent. But at the same time, it was so lovely. I could barely understand what our bus driver or friends were saying at times and they often repeated for us or just ignored our inquisitions and kept telling their stories, but still I was enchanted. It fit right in with everything Dave would tell us about wars and the Scottish heritage, which is ragged and harsh in and of itself.
Overall, I have never seen mountains like that before. I have never seen nature and scenery that looked exactly like a postcard, so beautiful it was almost fake. I felt like if I were to walk straight up to those mountains I would run into them as if they were a fake setting in Hollywood. I loved the scenes that passed me through the window, but I was also so done with riding on a bus for three days that I almost wanted to cry when our 4.5 hour train ride back to London came about. I had sat for basically four days and did nothing except that (and snack on said bus / train). It was quite an interesting weekend.