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Scotland, My Love

Updated: Feb 19

To say that I'm highly interested in British culture would be a massive understatement. I have been raised by Anglophile parents who were equally obsessed with British culture and history.

For the record, according to my DNA results, I am 70% English, 20% Irish and 10% German.

So, it only made sense that our one-and-only big international trip as a family was to England when I was 5 years old (in April of 1989). Even at that age, I was already familiar with famed British comedies like Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served and Monty Python - I am sure many jokes and contexts were way over my head at that age, but I have always had a deep rooted love for this style of humor. Oh and the murder mysteries and drama series? Still to this day in my opinion, American TV will never beat the quality that the UK produces.

I would rush to the TV when I heard the introduction to PBS' broadcasting of Mystery!. I was completely invested in solving the murders in Poirot and Inspector Morse. This all infused my love of epic period pieces and historical dramas both on the big screen and the little - and influenced my passion of costuming and the entertainment industry.

Now, I know this has not much to do with Scotland itself, but it does give you an idea of how far back my connection to the UK goes. So essentially, out of the womb I have had a magnetic pull to this region.

Scotland has always been this mysterious place to me - though I became more aware of it through films like Braveheart and Rob Roy, and of course through an English POV in regards to storytelling of Queen Elizabeth 1 and her heretic and throne-hungry cousin Mary Queen of Scots (more on that some other time).

As a family, we would attend the Costa Mesa Scottish Festival & Highland Games each year (California). And, when I was about 11 years old, my father joined the Black Watch Regiment (acting group) where they practiced Scottish military drills in full dress, as well as performed drumming and bagpiping routines. Later on, my father started making and selling bagpipes. My favorite band growing up wasn't a mainstream American band... it was Brother - a group of Australian brothers with Scottish descent who fused Aussie Aboriginal sounds (didgeridoos) with Scottish bagpipes and with modern rock. We followed them along the highland game and festival route for over a decade from Southern California all the way up to Canada. I had a HUGE crush on Hamish. What a dream of a human!

In 2009, a close friend and I decided to travel to England for a week staying in a variety of B&B's across rural England. Flash forward to 2015 and being eligible to take a 6-week sabbatical from work, I was itching to get back to that region. I had been wanting to get up to Scotland but I wasn't originally planning on making it the main focus of my 2-week long itinerary. The plan was to spend 10 days in England and then the last few days in Scotland before heading home. As I kept on working through my plans, I took a step back and realized that I was essentially planning a solo trip going to the exact same places I went in 1989 and 2009.

So I scratched the entire trip and decided to start over with only one place in mind to discover - Scotland. This was going to be my first time traveling internationally all on my own. I was excited to start this new chapter in my life of trying new things and being more curious. I suggest that every adult try to travel by themselves at least one time in their life!

Prior to diving deep into the research and planning, my thoughts led me to wonder if...

1) it would be safe as I've never been there before and I was going alone,

2) I would regret not spending any time in England after making it all the way out there

3) and if I would run out of things to see or do because Scotland couldn't have possibly enough to keep a tourist busy like England can in London alone.

Ha! How WRONG I was!!

With a small introduction to Edinburgh by my go-to for escapism and vicarious travel on PBS/OPB, by Rick Steves, this got my tummy tingling with what I was about to experience on my adventure. I made a quick list of the trip "must haves"