We were two Americans on the other side of the road in Scotland. Just five minutes into our trek from Edinburgh to Argyll, and already, this—
"Um, did you just hit my car?"
The answer was no. But only barely. Still getting acclimated to the rules of the road, we'd nearly driven ourselves straight into another vehicle. But this vehicle wasn't even moving; it was fully parked, and the owner was standing directly beside it, looking on with equal parts curiosity and confusion.
So when we screeched to a stop, an inch within scraping up the car's pretty paint job, we apologized profusely, then braced ourselves for the worst. But what followed wasn't the finger-pointing, dagger-eyed tirade we feared, it was only the one question, and it was delivered more like an inquiry into the weather forecast than into property damage. When the man saw we hadn't hit his car, he smiled, then sent us off with wave farewell.
This was our first peek into everyday Scotland, with its regular people and rhythms. And just like that, we knew getting out of Edinburgh would be everything we'd been craving.
Sure, the Royal Mile is a one-time must-see, but after a chock-a-block day along the cobbled lane of knockoff kilts, tartan this, and wool and cashmere that, we'd tired of the tourist trail. So we rented a car and sped West, in search of something a little more ordinary, a little less contrived. And in Argyll, we found exactly that.
A blue-green mosaic of lochs, woodlands, fields, and farms stretching 3000 square miles along Scotland's western coast, Argyll is the portrait of rural utopia. And while the region offers plenty to do in the way of activities, for us, it was the not doing that left us feeling so full to the brim. With no bus schedule to consider or agenda to adhere to, we were able to meander our way through, drinking up whatever small pleasures we happened to stumble upon.