27.12.2012 - 02.01.2013 5 °C
'If you have men who will only come if there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all' - David Livingstone
While in Edinburgh we visited the exhibition on Dr Livingstone at the National Museum of Scotland. I'm not one to linger in museums, so I was done in about fifteen minutes. While the boys perused other exhibits I pondered Dr Livingstone, Scotland, and generally basked in the lightness and brightness inside.
Livingstone embodies a spirit of determination of which the Scots are (rightly) proud.
Our tour guide to Loch Ness (finally, a tour which was outstanding; well worth the time and money we spent!) shared about Scotland's turbulent history and optimistic future with an interesting brew of resolve, irreverent humour and pride.
(On a slight tangent, here's some information you may find useful one day for a trivia/quiz night or a crossword puzzle: our guide told us that Mary, Queen of Scots and Scotty (Starship Enterprise) were both born in Linlithgow...or in Scotty's case will be born in 200 years-ish. Just in case you were wondering. )
Loch Ness itself was peaceful and eerie, giving the impression of restrained power.
Edinburgh itself is ancient and vibrant, and seems to be going in to the future with a strong sense of identity drawn from the past.
To say 'I loved Scotland' seems a grossly inadequate phrase to capture my experience there. I was at times frustrated, intrigued, inspired, cold, peaceful, and motivated.
Edinburgh Zoo was - well, just fun. Most of my fun came from watching Mark and Kobi enjoy themselves (I approach zoos much like I approach museums - swiftly... Unless there's coffee involved, and them I'm all for lingering).
When we viewed the giant pandas, however, I was happy to stop as long as possible. Pandas generally sleep for 16 hours a day...they just happened to wake up when we were there.
My biggest frustration (and in the greater scheme of life, it really wasn't that life-shattering...quite minor, in fact) came from the differences in our accommodation. The staff at Alba Hills Guest House were warm and friendly. The reception at our castle stay was not quite so. It was on the list of 'things we've always wanted to do' and was considerably more expensive per night than a bed & breakfast; we expected the service to be on par with the cost. The building and grounds were stunning, but (apart from one staff member) it lacked the hospitality and warmth we had experienced thus far in all our interactions in Edinburgh.
However, in Scotland people don't let things get them down. They just get determined, and get on with it. So I rallied, and after a slight stamping-of-the-foot rant in our room about what constitutes good customer service, made the most of the beauty.
Meandering through the grounds at the castle.
The view from our window
But back to my pondering about Livingstone.....He was a pioneer.
The Scots have a rich history of being bold and fearless. They saw places with no roads and went there anyway.
I'm inspired to do the same.