Scotland: home of golf and haggis

United States Travel Blog

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It is currently the cheapest time for Americans to visit the United Kingdom since the beginning of 2002, due to the weak British pound (for more information on the exchange rate click here). A trip to the UK is not complete without a visit to Scotland, the birthplace of golf.

The celebrity status of Tiger Woods and finely groomed courses like Pebble Beach characterize mainstream golf seen on television. Before there were twenty types of golf balls and $200 course fees, golf came to life on the barely altered Scottish land.

Golf’s roots are planted at the Old Course at St. Andrews, an hour north of Edinburgh. Scotland is home to hundreds of golf courses known as links, defined as a sandy area near the coast with minimal trees and few changes to the natural landscape. To play on a links course is to play golf as it was intended to be played.

After playing the historical links of Scotland for two weeks, Nick Padgalskas, an experienced golfer, “could not help feel a part of something after playing the Old Course.”

St. Andrews, home to the prestigious university of the same name, is the quintessential Scottish city. It is not uncommon to hear the echo of bagpipes played by kilt clad Scotsmen throughout the stone streets. The pleasant drive to St. Andrew’s involves touring through the lush countryside where there are more sheep than people.

Aside from the Old Course, the cemetery and ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral are a must see. Climb to the top of St. Rules Tower, the oldest surviving building in St. Andrews, for commanding views of the city and bay.

Scotland is a short flight from England with plenty of sightseeing for the non-golfer. The Royal Mile, a street lined with shops full of Tartan souvenirs from every Scottish clan, leads to Edinburgh Castle, the city’s focal point. The castle sits upon Edinburgh Rock which served as a natural fortress during times of war due to its massive size. The castle overlooks the city and boasts an exhibit of the Scottish crown jewels.

Rose Street is home to a row of Scottish pubs, but no one said Scottish food is a sought after gastronomic adventure for the taste buds. Haggis is one of the most well known Scottish pub foods made of sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs mixed with spices, onion, and oatmeal boiled in a sheep’s stomach. Haggis served in restaurants is prepared in a casing not an actual stomach. Despite the unpleasant description, it is surprisingly palatable.

An escape to Scotland is a recommended add-on to any European trip requiring only two days to see the major sites unless golf is the main focus. It is not the driest country, so bring a rain coat and prepare to see some cloudy and misty days. Scotland is rich with history from the original golf courses to the castles of former kings. Remember that Scotland is part of Great Britain, so look left before you cross the street and watch out for Nessy.
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