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Monday, May 22, 2023

Scotland - Day 3: Authenticity

I don't try to explain, after the fact, what these bordering-on-ridiculous blog postings mean.  There are a couple reasons for that, none of which are entertaining enough (for me...) to write about.  This noted, what I do find fascinating is how easy it is to read intent into written words.  That's both a curse and a blessing for folks that write things, even hacks such as myself.  Anyway, I'm going to make an exception to the blog posting interpretation rule.

For example, in my Day 1 posting, I compared how Edinburgh is, well, gritty, dirty, and kind of smells like the Scranton I knew as a kid.  I get that this certainly sounds bad...unless you are me, and you grew up in Scranton in the '70s.  Granted that other folks, outside of fans of the U.S. version of The Office, probably have a negative impression of Scranton, but I don't.  In fact, that gritty/dirty/smells description is, in a word, authentic.  While there are tons of tourists here in Edinburgh, as I noted in the Day 2 posting, this is a lived-in kind of place.  The tourists just seem to be here for the ride.  

Another way to think about this is to consider Edinburgh as a kind of anti-Disney.  This isn't a magic kingdom; this is a place where people work, sieges have been had, and more than a few people hung and/or otherwise dispatched.  In the words of our tour guide on Sunday, Edinburgh had for the longest time a reputation for being one of the most disgusting cities in Europe.  The magic in this kingdom is that people have called this home and fought for it over centuries.  

The above noted, my quota for actually explaining blog postings has been met.  Since this is about the first time since 2008 that I've done this sort of thing (explaining...), if I do the math then I won't have to do it again until sometime in 2038.

On to the day's festivities.


Today we did the quasi-common bus tour of the countryside thing.  It was fun, based partially on the fact that my knees appreciated that they weren't responsible for all of the day's locomotion.  To be a bit more specific, the big stops today were Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle.  See the links for more (likely & possibly) factual information.  

As we were headed to Loch Lomond, we stopped to see an attraction known as the Kelpies.  For purposes of picture set-up, know that this is a very large metal sculpture. 

As I alluded to in the first paragraph or so of this posting, Scotland pretty much does what Scotland wants.  Giant horse heads?  Sure, why not.  There actually is some mythology about the Kelpies, which you can get from the horse's mouth HERE.  

From the Kelpies we headed to the Loch, for an all too brief visit.  Photographs don't do it justice, but here's one anyway.

This is an old place, well-used, yet still incredibly beautiful.  Something else to mention?  It smelled wonderful.  Actually, the Kelpies smelled wonderful too.  Just the right combination of flowers were in bloom I suppose, creating a scent that would rival a stand of honeysuckle.  

By the way, I am reasonably sure that there are more sheep in Scotland than there are people.  Without any exaggeration whatsoever.  The sheep we saw driving around the countryside were legion, for they were many.

Granted, I don't want to think too hard about Scotland's sheep, as that results in thoughts about what becomes of the cute little guys (re:  Haggis).

After the Loch and countless sheep-spotting opportunities, we stopped for lunch.  That was something of an adventure (for mundane reasons I will not get into), but what was really cool was the fact that we stopped at a town that was literally at the border between the Scottish lowlands and highlands.  

Foreground = Lowlands.  Background = Highlands.

Our final stop was Castle Stirling, complete with a larger-than-life statue of Robert the Bruce.  Yes, that was a character in the movie Braveheart, and yes, the locals are keenly aware of how inaccurate Mel Gibson's movie really was.  Regardless, it's an impressive statue.

I didn't do the castle tour (Ms. Rivers did), but instead went wandering around the castle grounds, which were beautiful.  The history of this place literally permeates the air.

Finally, I can't let the opportunity pass to take a few critter shots, and today was no exception.  

With apologies for the off-center shot, but in all fairness, 1) He was moving a lot and 2) I was using a cellphone camera.

All of the above noted, it was a long but interesting day.  Now to get some rest.  I think I slept for something like four hours last night, due to a variety of reasons.  I need to do better,.  Tomorrow will be more castle touring and maybe a ghost* bus tour.

More to come.

(*) Ghosts don't exist, but for the purposes of this vacation, I'll play along.


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