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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lessons Learned

What I Learned In Scotland:

  • Scottish Breakfast is really good! 
    • When I had googled the description prior to our trip, I had seen a lot of photos of haggis and beans on toast. I already knew I wanted to try haggis, but beans on toast just doesn't sound appetizing in the morning. I ended up seeing beans/toast at only one hotel breakfast and it was in a buffet so I just didn't get it. What I loved about Scottish Breakfast is how big it is! I love starting out my day with a big, satisfying meal of eggs and meat. Yum!
  • Haggis is not scary.
    • Well, yeah it is because it's a bunch of sheep parts mixed with an oatmeal mixture, but it doesn't taste bad. If you've had scrapple, you can eat haggis.
  • The Scots don't eat dinner.
    • Not like Americans do anyway. We had such a hard time (in the cities especially) with eating dinner. We kept going to pubs with the plan to have a few pints and eat some pub grub, but they all stopped serving food super early! In Virginia, bars are required to serve food, which means we have fewer cool pubs, but also means we can easily combine drinking and eating. We ended up having to go to real restaurants to get dinner. 
  • Distance is to Scots what time is to Americans. 
    • People looked at us like we were crazy when we said we were including Orkney into our trip. Kirkwall is about 300 miles from Edinburgh, which would be like me going to New York City-not a big deal, right? But to them it's a lifetime away. 
    • I remember one time in America someone remarking on how old their house was. It was built in 1950! That's not old! We went into a house that was built in 1471 while in Glasgow! We saw ruins from 5,000 years ago while in Orkney! I could barely comprehend how old that stuff was. It was incredible. 
  • As soon as a bathroom is not available, you will have to use one.
    • I don't want to get TMI or anything, but bathroom access is probably the most difficult thing about traveling. If you've ever been in a traffic jam on a one lane road in The Highlands with no bathroom nearby, then you understand. Just the thought of "I wonder how long we will be here?" immediately equals a call from nature. 
    • The Heathrow bathrooms are not to be missed. So nice!
  • They can touch you on ghost tours in Scotland.
    • That would NEVER happen in America! 
  • When you say you're from Virginia, people either assume you're a county bumpkin or their eyes get big with jealousy.
    • My favorite reaction was the girl at a bar we were at for lunch who said, "I want to visit all of the states and see how they're all different!" So sweet. I said, "I haven't even been to them all!"
    • My favorite bad one was the guy who got really excited and asked if we're from where The Waltons take place. A quick wiki search back at the hotel told us that The Waltons did indeed take place in Virginia, but I'm not sure that's how I want my home state pictured. And seriously? The Waltons? Plenty of other shows take place in Virginia....like The Vampire Diaries!
  • Everyone in Scotland is attractive.
    • We fit right in, which was nice.
  • It really does rain a lot. 
    • It rained every day. Even on days when it was nice, it rained. We didn't mind, though. You just deal with it. 
    • The thing I didn't understand was the people walking around soaking wet. If I lived where it constantly rained, I'd probably at least have a coat with a hood. 
  •  They're serious about credit card safety.
    • Only one time was I told that a place could only take cards with chips. (They credit card has a security chip in it.)
    • At a restaurant/bar, they bring the credit machine to the table and run it there. Then they compare your signature like you're signing out classified material at MI-5. I even had to show my license once because the signature on my card was rubbing off. I kept thinking about how in America I often just scribble something on the credit slip that doesn't even resemble my signature. And how at work I don't care if someone's card isn't signed. We told one waitress that in America we don't have the credit machines brought to the table and she looked at us like we were crazy. She said, "We take credit theft really seriously here," which I get, but it's not like we have a lot of that going on here. I've never had a problem after a waiter has taken my card away from me to run. 
    • That said, at one restaurant, they actually undercharged us 10 pounds, which seemed weird because shouldn't their little machine show that the whole bill wasn't paid? (We added incorrectly when splitting the bill.) We realized after leaving and I ran the money back in. They hadn't even realized. Weird. 
  • Tipping is weird.
    • When they bring the credit machine to your table, it can be nice because it's easy to split the bill, but sometimes you don't get the option to add a tip. So be sure to always have some cash on you! 
    •  We tipped on our drinks about half the time. We watched other people and they didn't, but the bartenders are so nice! And they were happy to get some extra pounds:) It definitely wasn't the customary $1 per drink that we do here in America.
  • Guinness is served warm and ice cold. 
  • Ranch dressing doesn't exist in Scotland. 
    • Or, at least, it didn't exist the first time we asked for it with our chips and the waitress looked at us like we'd grown second heads. 
    • Honey mustard didn't seem all the rage either, but at the West End Hotel they mixed some up for us:)
  • People kept warning (getting me excited) about how it's cooler inside over there. I was told several times that they don't use the heat as much indoors. That's a LIE. Especially in Edinburgh. Glasgow was cooler outside and in, as was Kirkwall in a few places.
  • Scotland has Build-A-Bear Workshops! YAY!
  • Hardly anyone jaywalks. It's awesome! 
  • The one pence piece looks just like a penny. Take your American change out of your wallet to avoid confusion. 
  • If you're a vegetable fan, eat your garnishes. Veggies were a little too scarce for my taste. 
  • Take the tour. It's worth it.
  • Roll your pants up when it's raining. 
  • 1 in 10 girls will be wearing shorts with tights underneath. 
  • Don't be that person on the plane who sits in the wrong seat. You mess everything up! 
    • This person was NOT me. I promise.
  • 10 days is not enough time to find your Scottish soul mate. 

+ Title from Carrie Underwood

1 comment:

Serena McClain said...

I'm probably not supposed to laugh at this, but I burst at laughing at the thought of you and Ali asking for honey mustard and ranch. Honestly, I can picture it.