Scotland Is Ready and Waiting for You
Scotland, home of warriors, reformers, and poets, patiently awaits those who want to enjoy her rugged beauty and fascinating history. From quiet Loch Lomond to busy cities such as Perth, Aberdeen, Stirling, Dundee, Edinburgh the capital city, Glasgow, the charming cultural flavor creeps into every conversation and activity. To fully experience what is Scotland today, visitors will want to see as many places as possible during their time here, mix with the locals, and absorb the uniqueness of this wonderful part of the world.
Let’s start with the largest city, Glasgow, situated in the west central lowlands on the River Clyde. Travelers will appreciate both the historical religious focus as well as the modern attention to the performing arts. It is possible to visit the oldest Episcopal church in the world, St. Andrew’s-by-the-Green, and to wander up through the Necropolis Cemetery to view the statue of the famous reformer John Knox. That same afternoon might find you on Argyle Street shopping for designer labels, and in the evening, in the West End eating at an upscale restaurant or attending opera, theatre, or ballet.
Once known as the “Second City of the Empire,” Glasgow is considered today to be one of the top twenty financial centers in Europe and one of the ten top tourist sites. While the city has enjoyed both financial success and financial struggles, it has consistently supported its educational institutions, of which there are several. The University of Glasgow, estimated to be the 4th largest university in the English-speaking world and 12 other institutions of higher learning are either in the city or in close proximity. Other interesting sites include the People’s Palace and Cineworld, the world’s tallest cinema.
The number two city and Scotland’s capital is Edinburgh, sitting in south-east Scotland on the Firth of Forth. The incredibly rugged landscape is breath-taking and it is easy to imagine why so many ancient ruins can be found here. Both Medieval and Georgian architecture abound in what is considered to be one of the most picturesque cities in all of Europe. But like Glasgow, education is a valuable commodity. The University of Edinburgh is highly respected throughout Europe. Over a million tourists a year come to visit the city voted “most desirable city to live in the UK,” and while you may not be settling in, you’ll definitely enjoy the time spent here.
Aberdeen has many names, including the “Silver City with the Golden Sands,” and once you arrive, you’ll understand the meaning behind this unique tribute. From the mid-1700s to mid-1900s grey granite infused with silvery mica was mined from the quarries here. A host of the local granite buildings seem to glitter and sparkle in the sunlight. Since Aberdeen sits along the long, sandy coastline, it’s easy to understand the second part of the special description. Home of the largest seaport in north east Scotland, Aberdeen has learned how to profit from its oil industry, but this is not merely another industrial town. The beautiful city has captured the prestigious “Britain in Bloom” award for ten years.
Dundee, the fourth largest city in Scotland sits conveniently on the north bank of the Forth of Tay. Known as the “City of Discovery,” the area has gone from being a world producer of jute in the 1800s to a modern day world producer of scientific discoveries. The biomedical and technological industries are flourishing in Dundee. As modern as the city has become, its medieval origins are evidenced everywhere and tourists can enjoy a pleasant visit here.
Stirling, the “Gateway to the Highlands,” is also worth a visit during your exploration of Scotland. This fascinating spot sits cuddled around an ancient medieval fortress and town beside the River Forth. While it may be the smallest city in Scotland, it is huge on personality and local color. Important because of its connection to Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI of Scotland, it is also reputed to have more than any city’s normal hauntings. If ghosts and history fascinates you, be sure to include Stirling in your list of special places to visit.
Perth, once a city and now a town in central Scotland has lost nothing of its significance by being demoted in size. Known as the “Fair City” from Sir Walter Scott’s “Fair Maid of Perth,” Perth is the place where kings came to be crowned and walk into their destiny. You’ll want to visit Scone Abbey and see the famous Stone of Destiny on which lives and futures were established.
No visit to Scotland would be complete without a visit to Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in Scotland by surface area. Dotted with charming islands, this area offers all the raw beauty of Scotland with opportunities to walk, ride, or play water sports on the lake. Boating is a natural past time as well. There is even a prestigious golf course for those who want to play their favorite sport in such a lovely pastoral setting.
Your trip to Scotland will be a collage of wonderful and varied experiences. Enjoy the people and the breath-taking scenery. Relish the history and the modern activities. Scotland is ready and waiting.