It’s well-documented that Scotland is basically the best country in the world.* Devolution may or may not happen, but whether it does or not, it’ll be a very close vote. As my dad said: ‘The wheels are on the train and the engine is running.’
Disclaimer: I am from there and biased.
So in case it takes Scotland removing itself from the British Isles (not literally, that’s too hard) for you to figure out that Scotland isn’t a land filled with aggressive, drunken redheads wielding Scotch eggs, here are some great reasons to visit.
1. The Highlands
The Scottish Highlands are the most beautiful place on earth. You want ancient, fern-covered hills? You got it. You want mountains that were formed during the Ice Age? How about some sandy beaches covered in palm trees – you can thank the Gulf Stream for that if you’re on the west coast. Or placid lochs potentially filled with mythical beasts? The Scottish Highlands have it all.
Irn-Bru is Scotland's national soft drink. Fact: Scotland is the only country in the whole world where its own home-made fizzy drink outsells Coca Cola. Its taste is indescribable. My mum (who is American) said it tastes like something Beelzebub would gargle with. It’s delicious; fruity and tangy. It also has the best advertising campaigns ever, highlighting we Scots’ brilliant sardonic humour. Oh, and most of all, it’s an incredible hangover cure.
I recently visited a whisky distillery on the Hebridean island of Islay. It was one of the best days of my life. Gentle waves lapped at a pebble covered beach, the sun shone down, and we drank whisky from 10.30am till 2am straight. Literally, straight. Just in a glass, no ice, nothing. Usually, if I drink this much alcoholic anything, I’d be face down with my knickers on my head, regretting the fact I hadn’t made my friends sign a disclaimer first. But whisky is some kind of miracle drink. Actually it’s not. It’s fermented grain mash and pure, Scottish water. Still, I didn’t even have a mild headache the next day.
I didn’t learn about the War of The Roses or the Battle of Waterloo at school. We had Scottish history. The Battle of Cullodden, the 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie – Scotland is a triumphant loser (see our rugby team for confirmation). The Highland Clearances saw forced displacement of hundreds of people booted out of their smallholdings, largely so hereditary aristocratic landowners could get their greasy paws on the land. But maybe Scottish people won in the long run: there are 10 million people claiming Scottish ancestry in Canada and the USA alone.
**5. The Italian Centre, Glasgow **
Glasgow is ace. It’s filled with brilliant things and one of them is the Italian Centre. Home to Versace Collections, the UK’s first Versace store (Glasgow is home to loads of Italians) as well as Emporio Armani, the Italian Centre also features a sculpture of a fat naked man. When Gianni Versace died the square was filled with flowers.
6. Scottish People
Everyone wants to lay claim to being Scottish, and it’s no wonder. They are warm and generous and share whisky at 10am. And what about this man taking a dump down a chimney? Or this man, sooking oot the drains with a Dyson? How can you beat that?
7. The food
My mum moved to Edinburgh in the 70s. On arrival she was offered a hamburger, the food of her American people. She recalls it as being something similar to a deep-fried shoe sole, served inside two stale slices of bread. ‘The worst goddamn hamburger I’ve ever had,’ she proclaimed in a brassy Midwest tone (which has since mellowed into a Madonna style transatlantic accent, lol). Anyway. Food in Scotland is second to none – we invented the Scotch Egg AND the deep-fried Mars Bar. How to make something better? Batter it and fry it.
8. The Edinburgh Festival
The Edinburgh Festival is amazing. Basically it’s a load of festivals – comedy, film, art, music – all happening at once. What feels like 10 million people descend on Edinburgh’s cobbledy hilled streets and everything is go. Mum hates it because she can’t park the car anywhere, but what can you do?
As well as being home to Tian Tian, the UK’s only giant Panda, you can also see eagles, highland cows, basking sharks, killer whales, dolphins, puffins and red deer in Scotland. There’s even a bird sanctuary on its own island, the Bass Rock. Don’t be fooled by its white appearance, though. That’s just bird shit.
10. It’s not England
And that’s what makes it great.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.