The Scottish Experience

Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, the hills of the Highlands for ever I love...

I have seen a few places within Europe and Asia but the tranquility that you get when you stand on the Highlands of Scotland is absolutely enthralling. I genuinely believe that places like these make you refresh your thought process from a mundane way of thinking to a calm absorption. 

I have never been a beach person, unfortunately - its vastness is mesmerising but its uniformity makes it a bit redundant. For me, it is essential to have the imperfections but still be able to sense the smoothness about it. Scotland, for most of its part, is absolutely un-manicured and rugged which makes the beauty all the more fascinating! You can wander around the country feeling as if you are part of this splendid artwork created by the nature. The experience is truly enrapturing! 


Snow-way from Inverness to Edinburgh

Lochness - Waiting for Nessie ;-)

Inverness


According to me, you have never really experienced the place when you don't penetrate into its culture. Essentially, a place becomes attractive when its wholesomely distinctive. The Scots, like the English or the Welsh, are proud of their traditions which are unique to themselves from the rest of the world. I would like to describe a few of them through my know-how. 

Scotch Distilleries!! 

When in India, my knowledge about Scotch was really limited to Glenfidditches, JDs, The labels etc. - very commercial whiskys. My understanding on the matter has improved after visiting duty-free shops at various airports in the world. Living in London, it further enhanced my grasp on the subject with first hand experience. However, you would be able to appreciate how vast is the Scotch market only when you drive down from South to North (or N to S) of Scotland. They are multifarious! Here is a quick list of the Scotches from Wikipedia. You can also find the famous scotches by flavour below.




We have been to couple of distilleries - Glenlivet and Dalmore - in the eastern part of Scotland. We booked Glenlivet, my favorite of the unpeated ones, a month in advance but Dalmore was literally on our way from Dunrobin to Inverness and it only took us a couple of hours of detour to make a visit to this distillery. 

You will notice several highland Scotch distilleries by the highways. Such is the production of Scotches in the country and each distillery boasts about its own history, smoothness, creaminess and the amalgamation of rich flavors. It is really worth a shot to do couple of distillery visits when in Scotland to understand the mechanics (even if high level) and the style in which they make. I am sure Scotch is the best form of whisky (trust me, I have tried Irish, English and the US ones) and it is valuable to go through this learning.

Foood!!

All English food is very much available in Scotland - pies, fish n chips, pasties, cakes etc. (of course, there are a few specific to the English lands like Yorkshire pudding, Cornwall pasty etc.). However, the Scottish have their own world renowned foods that they are proud of.

I have ensured that I get the taste of these unique Scot food varieties when in Scotland:

1) Haggis - Description of Haggis here might make you not appreciate it to begin with. However, the Scots have mastered to prepare it more deliciously by stuffing Haggis into reddish chicken breast with a soup of creamy mushroom sauce. This was truly amazing! 




2) Chicken - We have splurged on food on the trip and wherever we crashed (sandwich shops, restaurants, bars etc.), we have seen Cajun chicken - a spicy version with Italian seasoning (although Cajun cuisine is a French style origination) and Coronation chicken - which is mostly used as sandwich fillings. Note that these two could be found elsewhere but they are super popular in Scotland.

3) Shortbread & Flapjacks - These are cookie-kind of eateries that are widely known in Scotland. Our Air BnB lady was so adorable that she prepared flapjacks for us as a Scot souvenir on the day we left for Edinburgh from Inverness. 




Tea & Biscuits!!

1) Tea n Cakes - I love this concept in the UK. Their style is to have cakes with tea (not biscuits!). "Tea Rooms" - is a social networking place for the families (usually) to chat over pots of tea and assortment of cakes. I would recommend lemon glazed cake with tea when you would like to try this next time. Moreover, you don't need to add additional sugars in your tea ;-)




2) Oat Cookies with cheese - We were told that the Scots started revolutionising Oat-for-breakfast concept. It is their staple food and hence came the name Scottish oatmeal. Without any surprise, they make oat cookies which are usually served with a combination of cheeses. I, personally, did not fancy it but definitely worth trying. 

Clothing!!

1) Wool - They are bloody expensive but they will keep you 100% warm. We happened to go to couple of shopping towns, Brodie and Bruar, where everything was authentic (so we were told) but extremely exorbitant. When you feel the fabric though, it would surprise you with the softness that you would never feel like abandoning it. Harris tweed brand is popularly known across the world for its thick, woolly and skin-fitting jackets. 

2) Kilt - It is their cultural costume for Gaelic-speaking male Highlanders. This tradition started back in 16th century in the country. You will still see Scots following this at every occasion. On the Royal Mile of Edinburgh, you will see Bagpipers playing the music in Kilts showcasing their old culture. 




Others

1) History - William Wallace is a very acknowledged figure in the history of Scotland. Braveheart movie portrays his valour in taking charge of the first independence movement against the King of England in the 13th century.

You will also notice a handful of castles and forts within Scotland - Dunrobin, Cawford, Edinburgh, Urquhart castles, Fort William to name a few. Also, don't miss to cover Lochness which hosts the allegedly mysterious monster - Nessie!




2) Travel tip - As a must, you will have to drive down from East to West - Inverness to Skye. The views are just spectacular and you can't miss this in your lifetime :-)


Finally, travel liberates a soul and it is essential to go through these unique events to have a worldly wisdom and grounding. I hope everyone finds it joyous and worth living for :-)

#scotland #scottishhighlands #scotch #teaandcakes #haggis #scottishoatmeal #williamwallace #traveltoscotland #scottishkilt

5 comments:

Animesh Bordoloi said...

I agree with you completely when you say that you don't really experience a place in its entirety, till you penetrate into their culture and traditions, and what better place to experience some of that than in the land of highlands and mountain wildernesses, Scotland. Enjoyed your post, lovely photographs. Have a great day!

Christopher Ball said...

The dish you had is called Balmoral chicken and is a classic Scottish dish

Divya Khanna said...

Thank you Chris.. helpful!

Soumya said...

Very well written travelogue.

Manish said...

Nice travelogue!! "it is essential to have the imperfections but still be able to sense the smoothness about it" Nailed it dear !!

Powered by Blogger.