I spent the first few days of my summer adventure in Scotland. More than an interest in the country (have exciting things happened there?), I thought it would be good to get acquainted with the program and my classmates before classes actually started. This is a love letter to the country that stole my heart.
My parents enjoy folk music, so I’ve known this song since the womb, but I connected with it in a new way this past week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXwak2ZNU5E — “Caledonia” is Latin for Scotland. This is a cover of folksong written in the 70s about a man who loved and longed for his country. There’s something special about Scottish pride. Of course they take pride in strength and independence (think Brave Heart—despite any inaccuracies most locals seemed to love this movie). But I also picture Scottish pride as a person sitting alone by a Loch (lake) and drinking in the countryside. This song speaks to that deeply personal bond that every Scotsman I met seemed to have with his country. I hope you enjoy it.
Let me start off by telling you how deeply misinformed I was about the number of exciting things Scotland has to offer. I was told on no less than three Edinburgh tours about how human waste was dumped into the street with an unceremonious cry of “garde a l’eau!” (French for “watch the water”) which was bastardized into something like “gardy loo!” (the origin of “loo” being used for toilets). As you explore the city, you can see how it developed to try and cope with this unsanitary problem. Some particularly unsavory streets were built over, creating an awesomely creepy system of underground passages. “New Town” was built in the 1700s, essentially doubling the city’s size and providing space for the crush of being who couldn’t safely cohabitate in the “Old Town.” The rich moved into 4th story residences to rise above the smell without having to climb too many stairs. See? Exciting.
Okay, maybe that’s not the most convincing example. But it’s definitely cool to learn about the things that have shaped a city over 1000 years (Edinburgh’s oldest building is a chapel built circa 1100).
From looking out over the city to driving through the highlands, I think this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
This is a view of and from Edinburgh Castle, built on a hill in the center of the city. Though a palace for some of its life, the Castle was mostly used to house prisoners of war and Scottish military (not in the same quarters!). It also houses the crown jewels, which they don’t let you photograph, and a stone which 100s of years of Scottish and English kings were crowned on.
This would be a panorama is I wasn’t a disaster at taking panoramas.
The Castle itself.
The highlands are simply stunning. We got a little rain on that day, which felt authentic, and toured Loch Ness (no sign of Nessie, sadly), but my favorite part was just looking out over the countryside as we drove by, listening to great Scottish music courtesy of our bus driver.
Taken from the window of our tour bus (as evidenced by the blurry corner).
At one point I fell asleep on the bus and woke up to this fantastic view!
Ever since we left the buzz has been about how much we all loved Scotland—some of my friends are even planning to take a weekend and go back or attend grad school there. We’ve been wearing our plaid scarves with pride and reminiscing about events only a week gone by. I’m already planning a return trip. In detail.
If I should become a stranger, it would make me more than sad. Caledonia, I hope we meet again one day.