The First Impressions of Scotland

Scottish Bag piper in Edinburgh

 

Food, whisky, and landscape… Scotland is full of surprises.
 

First Impressions of Scotland

Scotland, a small country that is part of the United Kingdom, was the first travel destination of the New Year. I visited Scotland during the Hogmanay Festival, and traveled to Edinburgh, Inverness, and a few other places in the Highlands. IT sits to the north of England, but the culture here is very distinct and interesting, as I recently found out.

 

The World's Largest Scotch Whisky Collection

The World’s Largest Scotch Whisky Collection

 

They do like Scotch whisky

I had a chance to visit Whisky Experience in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Whisky is one of the drinks that I want to like and know more about. I asked almost every Scottish person I met if they really liked whisky. Surprise, surprise, the answer was yes. Also, they have all sorts of favorites. Scotch Whisky was a popular drink choice for the New Year’s Eve.

The world’s largest Scotch whisky collection is located in Edinburgh. The biggest bottle of whisky, measuring in at 105.3 liters, is also found here (105.3 liters = 150 bottles of whisky). According to people around here, if they open the bottle it won’t survive one night. That’s how much Scots love their whisky.

 

People are friendly

One thing I didn’t know about Scotland was that people here are extremely friendly. Of course we meet a lot of friendly people on the road in any country, but there are certain places on the planet where people generally are or aren’t nice. Scotland is surely one of the friendliest places I’ve been to. They just love people it when people visit.

 

Red Hot Chilli Pipers during Inverness' Hogmanay Red Hot Highlands Fling

Kilt wearing Red Hot Chilli Pipers during Inverness’ Hogmanay Red Hot Highlands Fling

 

They do wear kilts

In Scotland it’s not uncommon to spot a kilt on the street. Especially because it was the winter holidays, a lot of men were wearing kilts to parties and gatherings.

A kilt looks like a skirt, but how you put it together is quite complicated. It is tailored to wrap around the body at the natural waist, starting from one side around the front and back and across the front again to the opposite side. It covers the body from the waist down to the center of the knees. The overlapping flat layers in front are called aprons, and the single layer of fabric around the sides and back is pleated.

With the exception of some countries, like Bhutan, national attire is only worn on certain days, so seeing kilts in Scotland was a surprise to me. In Korea these days you might only see traditional dress like the hanbok on special days such as weddings or national holidays.

 

Scottish Food

Scottish Food (Left top to clockwise: eating haggis, fish and chips, cranachan, steak and Guinness pie, Highland cattle steak, full Scottish breakfast, porridge, baked potato and haggis filling

 

Scottish cuisine doesn’t end at haggis

Over the past few days I conquered a lot of different Scottish dishes including haggis. Haggis is made with spiced sheep liver and offal, oatmeal, and onions, cooked inside a bag made from a sheep’s stomach. It’s eaten with traditional sides like mashed turnips (bashed neeps) and mashed potatoes (chappit tatties). Haggis is served many different ways, such as a filling for baked potatoes, deep-fried, or with alongside other meat.

Meat is widely eaten around the country. Beef, especially the Aberdeen Angus breed, and Highland cattle are famous. Scotland is also known for its game meat, such as venison (the meat of the red deer). Fish and shellfish here are the envy of Europe, with a vast array of fish, prawns, lobster, mussels, oysters, crabs and scallops.

The Scottish breakfast that is usually served in hotels and B&Bs is similar to its English counterpart of sausage, bacon, and eggs, but typically with the addition of black pudding (blood sausage) and potato scones. Porridge is another popular option.

Lots of local dessert options are available if you have a sweet tooth. My favorite was cranachan, made from a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey, fresh raspberries, and toasted oatmeal. There’s also tablet (not the electronic kind), a confection made with sugar, condensed milk, and butter. If you want a pick-me-up for the day, one piece of tablet works magically with all its sugar.

 

It's hard to predict Scotland's weather

It’s hard to predict Scotland’s weather

 

Weather changes quickly

There is a Scottish word to describe weather—driech—that cannot be translated into any other language. It means the weather is grey and wet. The British poet laureate Ted Hughes once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing,” when he was spending holidays on Scotland’s west coast. The weather can be the biggest challenge to preparing for your time in Scotland. It’s not always bad. It’s just unpredictable. But the low-lying fog and drizzle is the charm of the Scottish landscape (and extremely photogenic!), so don’t be discouraged!

 

It’s green

For some reason, I always liked the idea of Scotland and Ireland’s rolling hills and cliffs. I haven’t been to Ireland yet, but for sure, Scotland is green. All the fog, mist, and rain keep everything here super green year round

In the Scottish Highlands, the leafless forest looked like the birch trees had caught on fire. In contrast, the ground was burning with green. Scotland’s forest is pretty much covered with moss. Rocks, branches, stone walls, bridges, all things damp and wonderful are covered with 50 shades of green. You can imagine how much I enjoyed it.

 

Enjoying Scotland's wet forest!

Enjoying Scotland’s wet forest!

 

About Juno Kim

14 Responses to “The First Impressions of Scotland”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Joy says:

    Scotland is on my list ..somewhere! It’s good to know the weather changes so quickly. I loved that rainbow photo!

  2. I’m glad you got a good first impression! I’d love to go to Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Very jealous!

  3. Scotland looks like such a beautiful country. I don’t think I have ever seen a bad photo of Scotland. You weren’t joking when you said it is photogenic! Never knew people actually wore kilts around; always figured it was more of a ceremonial tradition. I can’t wait until I make it to Scotland one day, so jealous!

  4. Scotland was my first travel love–I lived there in 2003–and I’m so glad you fell in love with it also!

  5. Alex says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed such a warm welcome to a country I love so much! I agree that Scottish people are some of the friendliest on Earth. I visited in the summer and was told I was experiencing some of the best weather the country had had in years — I loved it!

  6. So glad you enjoyed your visit to Scotland and in particular my hometown of Inverness. The Hogmanay party was fabulous!

    You’re right about the kilt, whilst it is very popular for parties, weddings etc, you can see it being worn all year round. Haste ye back :)

  7. Ayngelina says:

    I didn’t realize it would be common to see someone wearing a kilt on the street, I thought that was just for festivals, weddings and special occasions. Very cool.

  8. Very cool. Scotland is definitely a country on our list. Something about the fresh crisp air and the rolling hills. It looks magical. Love that the men wear kilts on the regular too!

  9. Laura says:

    This is great info. I discovered not too long ago that I am descended from a king of Scotland, so I feel like I need to visit soon and explore my heritage.

  10. Lisa says:

    I LOVE the Scottish accent. For me, that’s reason alone to want to go to Scotland!! Even though I don’t drink, those whiskey bottles are very stylish.

  11. Ian says:

    Great photos you got there! I’ve always wandered about Scotland. Thanks for sharing your trip!

  12. I spent time in Edinburgh when I was in high school and fell in love with the country. Thanks for making me want to go back even more!

  13. Ian says:

    Scotland resembles my home province of Nova Scotia in Canada in many ways … this post makes me want to visit Scotland even more!

  14. That bit about the food had my stomach growling. Great post!

*