After 15 years of living in the UK, we have finally booked our trip to Scotland last Easter (2019), and what an amazing surprise this country has provided us.
What can I say? What a beautiful country it is!
Truth to be told, I have always tried to go somewhere warmer than London, but this time, let’s just say that I had no say in the matter and we headed North.
Unbelievably, the weather was terrific, and the 3 days we were there were sunny and with a pleasant temperature, reaching around 22 degrees in the afternoon. Lucky me!
When I was researching for our trip and where we could go, our priority was to visit the countryside, the Highlands and go to a whiskey distillery, of course!
As I love nature, I was amazed by the scenery, the waterfalls, the lakes, the mountains… Everywhere is so beautiful and surely it was an incredible trip.
It was a shame that we were staying only for a few days. Well, now I am “forced” to go back there! And I have to confess that I already have a list of places to visit next time.
We rented a car and we had an itinerary including each night a bed and breakfast pre-booked, to have an idea on where to go, but we stopped many times on the way, discovering stunning sceneries and just enjoying our drive.
If you enjoy hiking, there are many trails and you can traverse parks, mountains, forest paths, coastal walks and such. It has rides for all tastes and levels of difficulty.
There are also several campsites spread out and there you can arm your tent or park your motorhome and enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside.
Here are some interesting facts and some tips that I have following this trip:
TIPS and CURIOSITIES
– Finding a gas station in the countryside is tough. Whenever you find one, fill the tank, as it may take hours before you find the next one. This is not just my experience, but our Scottish friend complained about the same difficulty. So trust me!
– I was astonished! The limit for alcohol consumption (to drive) is practically zero. To be more accurate is 50 mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Much more restricted than here in England, which is 80 milligrams to 100 millilitres of blood.
Because of this restrict law, at the distilleries they ask who the driver is and he/she can not do the tasting (just a sip). But they give you (or you pay, depending on the place) little bottles where you put the dose inside for later when you are not driving. I thought that is nice. At least you don’t lose your drink…
– The kitchens in the restaurants (in the countryside at least), close quite early, around 7 or 8 pm, even on weekends. So be careful and try to get in the villages soon, so you do not miss dinner.
– If you are renting a car (I highly recommend it if you would like to explore the countryside!), don’t forget that in Scotland and throughout the UK, driving is always on the left-hand side of the road.
– In Scotland, they use the Pound Sterling, but the notes are different from those in England. However, some business in England don’t accept the notes from Scotland and they are not obliged to do so. We did not see any problems the other way around as we used the English ones in a few places just fine.
The Evening Standard published some news about this: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/scottish-bank-notes-fake-a4123501.html
– Most businesses accept credit/debit cards, mainly Visa and MasterCard. American Express is only accepted in larger companies.
– The standard voltage is 230V, 50 Hz and the plug is the same as the one in the UK with three flat pins.
What to eat?
There are a few things that are traditional in Scotland like:
– Haggis: brace yourselves! The dish is made of sheep’s pluck (liver, lungs, and heart) minced with oatmeal, spices, suet and onion inside a lining of the animal’s intestine, boiled and served with whisky sauce.
In the name of the research for this blog, I’ve tried it and I was shocked because it is quite delicious. But, I confess that as I knew what it was, I could only have a bite of it.
– Neeps and tatties: usually it’s eaten with haggis. It is basically turnips and potatoes typically mashed.
– Bangers and mash: its sausages and mashed potatoes with gravy.
– Fresh seafood such as salmon, scallops, wild trout, oysters, lobster and langoustine are normally fresh and tasteful.
– Meat: Aberdeen Angus beef and lamb are tender and good quality.
– Shortbread biscuits (I love it!)
Also, some foods are the same as in England like English breakfast, porridge, fish and chips, Sunday roast, Scotch egg, etc…
I’m sure you’ll love Scotland as much as I did. But I think the ideal is to go in the spring, summer or autumn period as the days are longer and less cold (my preference).
There were friends of mine who went to the same places I’ve been to, a month before and could not see anything because of the fog, rain and bad weather in general.
But it all depends on what you want to do, as they also have ski slopes and you can enjoy winter sports.
Next time I will be writing about the places I’ve been to on this lovely trip that I’ve made.
See you soon!