Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Tourist Becomes the Tour Guide

We’ve been very blessed this week with absolutely perfect weather, the sort that only Scotland can truly provide. Cloudless skies with temperatures in the mid-sixties, a light breeze making it comfortable whether you are in long or short sleeves. I was doubly blessed that my Mom’s BFF from Nigeria was visiting Aberdeen on a business trip with her husband this week so I had a buddy to go sightseeing with. Since my car has a GPS, I offered to drive which is how I went from tourist to tour guide.
We ventured out to see two castles north of Aberdeen. From what I’ve seen of Scotland, there are two types of castles: ruins and restored. We saw one of each.

The first, Tolquhon, was a ruin in the middle of a beautiful countryside. From the castle, we had an amazing view of a hillside covered in yellow wildflowers.
It was so astounding that for now, yellow has dethroned purple as my most favorite color. That is until I see a field of heather or lavender and then I’m sure purple will claw her way back to the top.

After spending a blissful morning exploring castle ruins and every possible vantage point of the countryside, we headed to the town of Fyvie for a castle of a different flavor.
Unlike Tolquhon, Fyvie castle was a family home until the most recent generation sold the property to the Scottish Trust. We took a guided tour of the mansion and then had lunch in a tea room on the premises. I think my favorite thing about Scottish tourism is the tea room you always visit for lunch afterwards. Nothing caps off a day of history learnin’ quite like a diet coke and ham sandwich. 
The only flaw to my day was when we were buying tickets for entrance into Fyvie, the ticket seller asked the couple in front of us if they were American. The wife gasped and condescendingly corrected him that they were Canadian and offensively explained that calling a Canadian an American was like calling a Scotsman English.

Well it’s not exactly the same thing as calling a Scotsman English since the relationship between Canada and America hasn’t historically involved one country constantly fighting for independence from the other. But thanks anyway for the insult. Needless to say, I was steaming after this comment.  So when the kind ticket seller cheerfully asked me where I was from, I proudly and loudly stated “I’m from the United States.” The Expat becomes the patriot.  

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