Dùn Èideann

So perhaps a few of you knew that I was gone to Scotland for 6 days at the end of last week. I went to Edinburgh and then took a town bus out to Rosslyn Chapel for a day (confused? watch the Da Vinci Code), both of which were stunningly beautiful. Like, I can’t even describe to you this sort of beauty. So I’m going to include various photographs that I took that will hopefully describe my travels and include an anecdote or two to make my text seem worthwhile.

First of all, as many of you are probably ignorant of, I adore languages. And there’s nothing better than a good bookstore. Now, I know that lots of people say that there’s unnecessary hype about Blackwell book stores, that they’re a chain and that everyone makes a big deal out of nothing, but I have to say, they have a consistently great, academically oriented selection. Of course, I also tend to go into ones located in university cities. Maybe I’m biased because not many people have whole sections dedicated to linguistics and Anglo-Saxon literature.

Upon browsing the language section in Blackwell book store Edinburgh, I noticed that there were no books on Scottish Gaelic. Now, I’ve wanted to learn Gaelic for a while, and where better to get a book than Scotland? But none. Nothing. Not even Irish or Welsh. I was shocked! They had books on Urdu, Dutch, Basque! But no Gaelic? The original language of the Scots?

So I went up to the register and asked why they had no books on Gaelic in their languages section. The tweedy, buttoned-up fellow behind the counter looked over his glasses at me with a devilish smile and whispered, “Well, we’d get in quite a bit of trouble if we put the Gaelic in the foreign languages section.”

I was so embarrassed! I had completely forgotten that it wasn’t just “languages!”

Furthermore, I just have a newfound love of the Scots in general. They are more practical and lighthearted than the English, and a bit grittier too. It’s simply a different atmosphere, but, despite how much they would protest if they heard this, they are actually remarkably similar too. The English and the Scots both have a stick-to-it-ness that they’re individually proud of and claim the other group doesn’t have enough of. They’re both incredibly tidy (though I don’t think Edinburgh can represent Highland farms, just like clean Oxford streets doesn’t represent Liverpool). Literally, those lovely British buses were so clean, when I sneezed, I felt I had dirtied something precious.

Of course, not only were the buses clean, but also convenient. Edinburgh, while undergoing (endless) tram construction, has a bus system that makes sense. I’m not joking with you. It actually makes sense. There’s cafes and pubs on more than every street corner, literally 2 or 3 a block. Interesting restaurants, sketchy bars, tiny art galleries and tall-ceilinged antique map shops. It was undescribable!

-A/

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