There is no place in the world like Scotland. I know because I grew up there. I lived on one of the 790 islands that are scattered around Scotland’s shores. With a population of around 5.2 million people, the Scots are a proud people and produce some of the world finest whiskey.

I took for granted my Scottish childhood. I travelled to school by ferry most of my life. It wasn’t until I travelled to New Zealand that I realized this was an oddity for most.

It was normal for me to hear bagpipes echo through misty sea air. The fishing village in which I lived was home to around 2000 people and formed a tight knit community. During summer months we would leave cars unlocked, house doors open and valuables lying in open view. The only crime we experienced usually involved a few drunks haggling over football after the pubs closed.

My wife has yet to travel to Scotland. She tells me that on her top 10 list of things to do is to see a castle. This seems odd to me as I grew up around so many ruins they seemed cliché. Nearly every valley has an old ruin of some kind, whether it’s an old cottage from the 1500’s or a castle from 1000 years ago.

Like I said, I took my childhood for granted.

Scotland’s most popular tourist destination is the Highlands. This is Scotland’s northern region and boasts a scenic history that is found nowhere else in the world.

I never journeyed into the highlands until my teenage years. When I did I instantly regretted not doing so earlier. Most of Scotland’s population is towards the countries southern border and this leaves the Highlands with a unique atmosphere. With a lower population there seems to be more time to relax, unwind, and most importantly, drink whiskey.

Throughout much of Scotland remnants of old weaponry are still hidden among the valleys. If mountains could tell us their stories they would tell of clan wars, family feuds and political conspiracies. It seems as if nowhere is free from Scotland’s gripping history and somehow you can tell that when you stand on the land. Even lakes have their own myths such as the Loch Ness Monster. Lucky tourists can sometimes catch a glimpse of the elusive beast that is said to live in the lakes depths.

Other than great alcoholic beverages, fighting, myths and mountains, the Scots are a clever lot. You can thank them for the television, the telephone, and penicillin amongst other things. Scotland is also home to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Impressed yet?

If you do wish to visit Great Britain’s historic nation be sure to do so in spring and summer months (April – August). Winter months are ideal for the more adventurous but a bit too cold for the rest of us. School summer holidays last from late June to early August and tourist locations can be overcrowded in these months. Scotland uses the British Pound Sterling and runs its power supply at 230V, so you may need an adapter if you’re coming from the USA.

If you are deciding where to spend your hard earned cash, Scotland is surely the place. Put it on your bucket list.

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