I’ll soon head home to the States after a marvelous two weeks in Scotland, and I’ll be glad to get home. That said, I like it here! Yes, the elevators are tiny, and some of the hotels are more quaint than I’m used to (mostly the ones where Mary Queen of Scots was a guest before I got there), but I see a lot of differences that I like too. For example…
1) The potties are ALL conserver models. Image what a difference this could make in California, where nearly forty million folks are on the brink of a chronic water shortage. Mind you, Scotland has more fresh water in Loch Ness than you’ll find in all of England, though Scotland also has one-twelfth of England’s population–and yet, they’re saving water.
2) Electric and hybrid cars are fast becoming the norm. Gas is about $10/gallon for unleaded, and that has a lot of repercussions. Public transportation is excellent; “if it’s not far, park the car” thinking encourages walking (and better health and air quality); and people naturally carpool, combine errands, and try to leave the gas-beast in the garage. In Maryland, it is now illegal to open an electric car dealership.
3) The men’s public restrooms, with few exceptions, have baby changing stations.
4) When you use a credit card to pay in a restaurant, the waiter or waitress brings the little swiper machine to the table. You NEVER lose sight of that card. Same at other establishments. Fraud is much less of a problem as a result.
5) Flowers. Maybe because the most readily available building material is stone—which can look bleak, indeed—nearly every business, house and cottage is graced with window boxes, porch pots, and walkway beds of brilliant, thriving flowers. I’ve never seen such enormous roses, never enjoyed so many small touches of floral self-expression.
Running an open, healthy society takes more than water conservation, a national objective of energy independence by 2050 (they’re ahead of schedule), guys who change dipes, and commonsense solutions to credit card fraud. Even abundant flowers can’t guarantee that I’d like to live here, but I have a sense that I’m compatible with this place.
Then too, they have big trees and lots of them. I need my big trees. Good quality sweets—shortbread and tablet—are ingrained in their hospitality. Even modest hotels provide shortbread in each room. I love a little treat every now and then.
They have scenery on top of scenery inside of scenery beside scenery, and I’m one for living in the countryside.
Scotland cannot be home to me—from the US, the UK only admits for protracted stays only students, IT professionals and petroleum engineers unless you already have a job here—but it can help me recognize the characteristics that attract me to a place or a society.
Has travel ever done that for you? Shown you what kind of people and places you’d like to have more of in your life? Maybe it works the other way: You’ve left home only to realize why you love it so much?
Though I’m still constrained from responding to comments, to one commenter, I’ll again send a $25 Amazon gift card.
I love to travel visit new places but I also love the feeling of coming home. I guess that is why I love reading books I can have the feeling of traveling and seeing new places without ever leaving home.
I consider myself greatly blessed to have US and Canadian citizenship and to have lived in both places as an adult. Ultimately, healthcare, gun control, multiculturalism and family tip the scale in Canada’s favour for the long run. But I still see extended stays in the US in my future!
How glad I am that you’ve had this grand adventure! I’ve really, really enjoyed reading your posts about it and am confident we readers will reap the benefits for many stories to come…
I love your insights. When I am lucky enough to travel I look for similarities and differences to my life and appreciate both. Maybe you should get a second home in Scotland and visit more often?
Just finished Hadrian–I really liked Ashton Fenwick and hope to see more of him.
Grace, happy you are having a goot time!
Well, in a way it was really weird how i went to visit my country of origin only to feel so out of place there and miss my life here in the US!
My husband and I visited Scotland twice, in 2011 we spent most of our time in the Highlands and last year we visited the Lowlands. My maiden name is Campbell, the main reason we went to Scotland, and it was interesting at the reactions that name got in the different areas we stayed. Very positive in Inveraray :).
We also noticed the abundance of green and flowers everywhere. Our first trip there was in late August and our second trip was in late June, each time the weather was cool (cold to us Floridians 😉 ) and wet! Many of the roads were single lanes or small two lane roads so small, electric or fuel efficient cars were the norm. We liked that many of the places and villages we stayed in had what we needed within walking distance.
We did feel much safer using our credit card. Before we left home we contacted our credit card company to let them know we’d be traveling. It was suggested we get our card with a security chip since these are used widely throughout Europe and are more secure. We were given a PIN number and when using our card with the chip we just punched in our pin into the hand held machine, no signature required. We still use the card here at home but none of the restaurants or retailers have those machines that recognize the security chip so of course you have to sign.
We loved the Scottish dry sense of humor and their friendliness. We hope to visit there again soon.
I’m envious of your trip to Scotland. The view was quite impressive.
Hope many more books spring from this journey!
I’m not traveling so much, so far only 2 countries i gone and the place is quite fascinating and the person is mice too 🙂
Grace, it’s such a treat to hear about your travels — I hope someday to make it to Scotland, and while I’m disappointed I can’t eventually move there 🙂 you’ve given me lots of great ideas of places and things to see.
I haven’t really thought about it in the nearly 25 years since I studied in France or the 15 years since I visited Norway and Iceland, but I think what appealed to me so much about the places I visited (aside from the incredible scenery and love of nature) was the idea that living in a smaller space with simpler pleasures — and living in a more walkable environment, even in cities — was what I wanted.
I ended up returning almost home after grad school (not the same city but in the same part of the state) and discovered a small city that feels more like a small town in its charm and walkability. I can get out and do more with less and feel even more connected to my neighborhood and community, even though my city/town doesn’t have the same kind of public gathering spaces that are so common in Europe. (It has some, just not as many!) And I’ve ended up living longer here than anywhere else in my life, getting back to my roots. 🙂
I’ve enjoyed traveling through Scotland vicariously with you so much!! Looking forward to the wonderful books that are surely going to result from your trip.
I traveled a lot while growing up, I attended 15 schools before I graduated from high school, four in the fifth grade. It’s very difficult on a shy poor child, which is what I was. That, along with the fact that I no longer drive, and the fact that we have what I consider good public transportation are what keep me here. I spend $17.50 for a bus pass that’s good on any route in the system and lasts for 31 days. You can’t beat that for transportation costs.
Thank you for posting all of the photos this week. I feel that we’ve all been on vacation with you!
I have not travelled much since my daughter was born . Am encouraging her to spend her junior year abroad . Hoping to meet her for a long weekend. 🙂
Travelling is on my bucket list. I would like to spend time in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales before I retire. It’s nice to learn about how others live, eat and spend time. I think after a week or two, I’d be longing for my front porch chair, a book and a corgi or two! 🙂
Enjoy your last few days of vacation!
You make me want to go to Scotland. Thank you for sharing all the mini lessons.
I’ve been in France in November and was surprised to see so many flowers in abundance dripping from windows and along castle walls. But that’s France where the weather is still lovely in November. Knowing that Scotland also has an abundance of flowers to brighten up those rocks makes me smile.Someday I’d like to see those Scottish flowers myself. Thank you for sharing your travel thoughts and pics.
Scotland has always been my number one place to visit out of the US. Hopefully some day it will happen. In the US my most wanted place to visit is Alaska. Any time I have been away, I always look forward to coming home. My bed, my stuff and my house. Sounds like you are having a great time. I have love seeing your post and pictures of Scotland.
I was in England and Ireland for a month during college studying the life and works of CS Lewis. We never made it to Scotland, though. This was back in the days you didn’t travel to Northern Ireland. We were on a walk once and a truck of soldiers drove by us. Apparently we were fairly close to the border on our country walk. One of the funnest things I remember was, here we were a group of Americans in England and we decided to eat out at a French restaurant. Our waiter was Spanish!
What a wonderful getaway! Glad you’re able to spend some away time in a place you love.
I so wish I could be there!
Love the travel notes–I always learn something! Alas, I have not yet been to Europe or Asia, but I live vicariously through great books. Safe travels and know the feeling of loving travel, but being glad to get home.
While in the AF I got to live in the Uk for 2 years and I seriously wish I could go back to pretty much any part of the United Kingdom! They have a much different way of life that I found better. They are less TV, less than how we are in the US. Like you said they believe in conservation and a different way of life. As a parent I want to give that to my kids. Sorry for the rant! I live in SoMD and had no idea that electric car dealerships were illegal! I wonder why? Make sure you eat a bacon roll for me!
Funny you should mention this! I just got back from a week’s vacation in historic Philadelphia and absolutely fell in love with the city! I could see myself living there, definitely! I currently live in Pittsburgh but am from grid-like streets in Michigan so it was much easier to not get lost. Everyone was so friendly, it was vegan-friendly, and it wasn’t very expensive. Clean streets, very recycle conscious, and history every where you went.
It’s been a long time since we’ve traveled but I love the variety and differences. Unlike some people, I don’t want everyone to be the same and think the same as me. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the best of all countries and peoples. One can still love their country without burying their heads in the sand. I think we all have a lot to learn from different cultures.
Thanks for sharing your trip with us – I’m quite envious.
I traveled more when I was younger, but now a days the poor quality of my bank account, knees, and back just don’t allow it anymore. So my traveling is done by reading good books now and I’m not complaining. A good book can not only take you to another place, but it can take you to another time and into an interesting adventure as well.
Love traveling, but I’m a homebody at heart.
While our son was in graduate school in Colorado, my husband and I visited there many times. I believe I am totally compatible with mountains and trees and rivers of trout. 🙂
I think almost every place I’ve visited has something I want to see more in my life. The thing that always gets me is the food in all the places I’ve visited outside the US are delicious and much healthier in general.
Scotland sounds like such a wonderful country, I’ve always wanted to visit. For me, I moved to Florida from California, and I’ve missed home ever since. I’m hoping to go back after I retire in 4 years, there’s just no place like home. For example, whenever I shop for fruit, I look for the California grown fruit because it’s so much better. 😀
I visited some countries, but Scotland has to be my favorite place, the people are so nice and charming, the highlands breathtaking!
I enjoyed your views on Scotland. Yet, I am disappointed that the UK doesn’t want people to move to their country unles they fit a certain catagory or have a job. Makes me not even want to visit.
All countries have to have immigration rules for people wanting to work. Green cards and L1 visas in the US? Our borders are open to any European Union citizen as it is. I expect Grace came across working Poles, Czechs, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians etc etc in her travels this side of the Atlantic? Apparently London is France’s sixth biggest city!
I wish that US cities could be more like European ones In terms of small areas where fresh food is available and one buys fresh food to prepare daily. And where it is a walking city environment. Really only NYC is like that in the US
I like my home, as in my house with my beloved pets in it, but I would dearly like it to be somewhere else besides blazing hot in the summer Phoenix. I have wished for a chance to really thoroughly visit the UK and your descriptions fuel my fantasies Grace.
The closest I have gotten was when I spent 4 hours in the international lounge at Heathrow long ago. We could have timed our incoming flight so that we had an overnight lay over allowing us a full morning to see some of the sights of London. My sister refused because she was in a hurry to get home to her then boyfriend…. I have been teasing her about that every chance I get for the last 40 (yup) years.
I haven’t done a lot of world travelling, but when we went to Antigua, they turned the water in our timeshare off during the day, so you couldn’t take a shower. They also just shook out the sheets & towels & hung them over the shrubs to dry, instead of changing every day. Also, there was no AC, only ceiling fans & open windows. I have to say, I did miss the comforts of home, even though it ended up being a relaxing vacation.
Several years ago we visited England spending much of our time in London but also taking a trip out to Wiltshire staying in Bath a few nights. I was very impressed with the entire public transportation system. Yes it was slightly confusing at times, but we were able to travel around the city of London and across country in a timely manner. The mild weather (compared to what we are used to) made for a pleasant walk from the tube/train/bus stations to our destinations. Despite the fact that England was experiencing a drought, we saw some amazingly colorful and lush gardens.
I love Texas and can’t imagine living anywhere else, but the heat makes it next to impossible to walk long distances and still be presentable in company. When we have a drought everything simply turns brown with the exception of some very hardy wildflowers.
I did NOT know that about Maryland! Shame on them! Scratching that state off my ‘might want to live there’ list. I would love to visit another country for an extended amount of time. Did you use a professional service to arrange your trip or just go by the seat of your pants and the internet? I’ve been thinking it’s time I started checking some of those “I want to see” places off my bucket list. But, there is no place like home. We are screwed up in our government priorities right now but I think with enough people doing the right thing, we’ll come around. I at least hope we will. Scotland sounded lovely from your descriptions. If I didn’t want to read more of your books, I’d suggest you become a professional travel blogger! 🙂
What I love about the UK is there seems to be more introverts, who understand me with less words.
When I was 18 years old, just out of high school, a lovely nurse I worked with at the hospital nursery (I was a volunteer) offered to take me on a trip to Seattle with her and her mother. She knew from lots of conversations that I had always wanted to go there and she knew I had never flown and was a little afraid to do so. She asked me if I would consider flying if she and her mother (Who worked for America West Airlines) paid for the trip, minus any souvenirs I wanted. I called my parents immediately to see if they would let me go. They said I could and the trip was planned. I was a very nervous flyer but, we did get to fly first class which helped a little. We arrived in the evening and I didn’t get to see much of the scenery but the next morning I was absolutely in love with the Seattle area. It felt like I had come home. I visited there 10 times in three years and every time I knew that was where I belonged or at least felt the most at peace. I had plans in the works to move there after living a year on my own near my parents. Before that year was over I had met my future husband and I haven’t been back there since. It still calls to me and one day I hope to take Eric there.
Really interesting information about Scotland. I would like to visit it some day. They also had some terrific writers from their country.
When I lived in the Midwestern US, I loved to travel other places to escape the heat and the flat and the cities. But we retired to the Pacific Northwest where everyday is like a vacation, so my restless feet have been planted. Probably a good thing, since we can’t really afford travel anymore anyway. It’s so much fun to vicariously travel with others via a blog, though. Thank you for posting your journey.
I feel like I am in Scotland in your wonderful books. So visit there as often as you can. You seem to be turning out fast and furious, the wonderful stories of the Clans, etc, I cannot keep up.
I buy once in a while, use my Nook and local library. I am always suggesting to my library your books to purchase before they are released to the public. That way I am first on the reserved list when they come in. Love it. Betty Thompson