Tag archives for Scotland Trip

Back in January, I tracked down my great-great-great grandfather at the ScotlandsPeople Centre. This month, I traveled to the other side of Scotland and saw the land of my maternal ancestors. I walked the same streets of Glasgow that they walked, went to their church of Paisley Abbey (check out the view), visited their last…

Glasgow Music

Every city has its sound—Manhattan’s taxi commotion and Sydney ferries, or Cairo’s car horns and New Orleans’ trumpets in the streets—though try and define it too much and you’ll miss the music of the place. To be a good traveler, you really only have to listen. I’ve been listening to Glasgow since the eighties—ever since…

It too me thirteen years to travel back to Knoydart, but took less than thirteen seconds for me to fall in love with the place all over again. I owe my entire discovery of this rare corner of Scotland to Jackie Robertson who picked me up hitchhiking so long ago and showed me the loch…

Return to Knoydart

Thirteen years ago (this month), I traveled to Scotland for the first time. I was a student and I was quite seriously broke—I remember well my empty refrigerator and the simple zeros in my bank balance until one fine September day when my housing deposit return showed up in the mail. I cashed the £250…

Hiking in Skye

There are two secrets to happy hiking in Scotland: waterproof clothing and lots of time. Show up in the Highlands with a plan to reach such-and-such peak on such-and-such day, and Scotland will laugh in your face and spit rain at you. Better to draw a big circle around a set of calendar days and…

I never tasted crushed popcorn dust atop sweet and salty corn soup or whisky foam or caramelized grapefruit—until I came to Skye. Arriving in Scotland, I expected haggis and herring, potatoes and porridge—but when I licked my first spoon of morning porridge at Kinloch Lodge, I was hit with the most wonderful brown sugar and…

Sabbath on Skye

On Sunday, everything is pretty much closed in Skye. Well, almost everything—at lunch I managed to grab a haggis sandwich in one village, and another pub let me use their Wi-Fi on the condition that I bought a drink—but otherwise, come Sunday, it seems the entire Isle of Mists shutters their windows in strict observance…

The Storm

Nobody is more weather-obsessed than the islanders of the Outer Hebrides—of this I am certain. From the moment I first landed in Barra, every person I have met has first shook my hand, then told me their name and delivered a 48-hour forecast. “We’re in for a wee blow tomorrow,” said one man in a…

In New York City, your waiter is always an actor—In Scotland, they’re all musicians, or better yet—pipers. By night, David Provan (age 18) serves guests at Langass Lodge on the Isle of North Uist (yust). By day, he studies (and plays) the bagpipe at the University of the Highlands and Islands, which has a campus…

I am always drawn to islands—the more windswept and remote, the better. Thus I always dreamt of visiting Na h-Eileanan Siar, or the Western Isles of Scotland (also known as the Outer Hebrides). Thanks to travel brochures and back issues of our very own National Geographic, I imagined the isles were a separate world of…

Flying to Barra

“Boarding pass?” I dug the card from my bag and handed it to the woman at the shop in the Glasgow Airport—her nametag said “Lauren”, her straight brown hair fell to her shoulders, and her nose was pierced with a barely-there gold stud. “Where you flying to?” she wondered aloud, but I only stared back…

Gale force winds and short skirts don’t mix, but I took the risk all the same. My aim was the great and imposing Scottish mountain called Ben Nevis–the highest point in the United Kingdom (4,409′ ft, 1,344 m). As for wearing a kilt, well, when in Scotland . . . True kilts are made of…

Shetland may just be the most photogenic corner of Britain–the weather is moody and dramatic and the light (if it’s there) is always surprising and cinematic. Though I travel with several different cameras, it’s my phone I grab first–always. Phones may never compete with DSLR for clarity, stabilityf and megapixels, but I find phone pics…

“You’ve come at the wrong time.” This is what everyone tells me. They don’t say, “Welcome to Shetland!” Instead they say, “It’s such a pity you came right now, in January.” Then, like an answering machine instructing you to call back later, they tell me to come back in summer. Some insist that June is…

All libraries smell the same—the smell of very old paper and canvas, old carpet, old air. It’s the smell of old milk and the scent of history and like a hound sniffing the air, I followed the trail to the domed research room inside Scotland’s National Archives. Genealogy is nothing more than serious detective work.…

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive. Robert Louis Stevenson penned that lined back in 1881 (Virginibus Puerisque) and as I drive east on Scotland’s A1—in the hopeful direction of the Scottish author’s boyhood vacation home—I am following his wise counsel. I never actually arrive at his home—the one rented in summertime…

It smelled like bacon. I was afraid to say it out loud, though—I doubt any real food and drink connoisseurs compare the smell of some grand old Scotch to an everyday pork product, but that’s what my nose captured. In the heart of Edinburgh, in a room walled with brass- and bronze-colored bottles, I sniffed…

Loony Dook

New Year’s Day is a strange holiday, with fewer fixed traditions than most. It seems that January 1st is a kind of “anything goes” festival where people celebrate the start of a new year in whatever way they deem best. In my country, so many tend to lounge around at home and watch football, but…

Old Long Since

High above Iceland the man began screaming uncontrollably, “Save me! Save me!” It wasn’t his shouting that jolted me from my transatlantic midnight rest, but the sound of total fear in his voice. I quickly sat up, checked my seatbelt, and then turned around to catch the panic on his face. “Make it stop, make…