Scotland is for Stone Huggers
September 2006
 
I'm going to start this travelogue similar to how I started my last one, but with a very different perspective.

I am in awe of Scotland, not just for its incredible natural beauty, jaw-dropping prehistoric sites, welcoming and warm people, beautiful villages, well-kept roads and outstanding pubs, but also, for its civilized, respectful, loving treatment of its dogs.

The contrast to my experience in Italy regarding the treatment of dogs was mind-boggling. It was like I was on a different planet. There was a dog in just about every pub we went into, happy to greet visitors or to lay in the pub window, soaking up the sun. There were dogs at most of the historic sites and campsites, always on leads or otherwise under the control of their owners. Even in the Traveler's campsite where we stayed in our last night in Scotland, the dogs were well-kept, and at night, all brought into their owner's trailers.

For me, Scotland puts Italy totally to shame, not only for its treatment of dogs, but also for its lack of trash throughout the countryside, the service in most of its bars and restaurants, and the genuine warmth and courtesy of its people.

In fact, I'm pretty much ready to move to Scotland. If the right job came along, I would. I haven't felt this way about a place since the first time I saw Austin, Texas. I felt completely at home there, and got teary-eyed when we had to leave.

The best parts of Scotland for me, in summary:

A typical day:

It's a great way to travel. It has a nice rhythm to it. It gave us plenty of time during the day to ride or hike, and we rarely felt rushed.

My top four favorite sites in Scotland:

Our focus, obviously, was ancient sites. It's how Stefan and I met once upon a time, actually. During this trip, Stefan said "I guess we're stone huggers." He'd never heard that term before, so I'm giving him credit for inventing it. We love pre-Roman historic sites (although I really love the Roman sites as well).

Unfortunately, we didn't have time for any big cities. I've read great things about Glasgow, Edinburg and Inverness -- I hope to see them all someday. Here are the highlights from our trip in a bit more detail, as well as some tips if you are thinking about going. I encourage you to Google any city or site names that sound interesting to you, for more information or official photos. And I encourage you to take THREE weeks in Scotland, at least; two just wasn't enough:

And that's it. I have oh-so-many personal observations and stories I could tell about this trip, but you'll have to hear them face-to-face -- it was such a personal trip that I don't feel like sharing it all with the entire world. Plus, well, I think I've written enough...

See pictures from this trip.

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