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Being a good guest

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  • Being a good guest


    This may be a potentially "loaded" question but I would like to pose it, especially to those folks who actually live in Scotland...

    What sort of things should visitors avoid doing/saying when visiting? Or, put another way, what should we focus on to be welcome guests?

    We visited Scotland in 2009 and are planning a return trip in 2015. From travels elsewhere, I know it's not proper to complain or brag about something, resorting to, "Well...our bathrooms are MUCH bigger back home"...

    The reason I ask is because on our last trip, we saw some truely bad examples of "ugly Americans". I know not everyone acts this way, but I was embarassed, for both local folks, AND myself, by some of the poor behaviors and attitudes displayed by others I saw while visiting...

    We live in a very tourist-oriented town here in Oregon and there are times when folks complain sooooo much ("Where we come from, we have this...or that...") that I have to sometimes bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Well, if you like it so much where you come from, why don't you go the heck back?!?

    I think my worst mistake was butchering the local language so badly...but hopefully, I can be gently excused for that! At least I now know what a "wee orey elan coo" is (and I probably butchered that!)

    That said, any positive input would be greatly appreciated! I would hope to be remembered with a smile as opposed to a frown...



  • #2
    I think you are on the right track regarding etiquette, avoiding the arrogant bragging and the "we're better type' comparisons. I have seen the Ugly American as well, it popped up not only in the UK but other parts of Europe AND, even in America! LOL (At least one of them was Canadian, so it's not just exclusive to the States!)

    Those who are mad because Scotland isn't like in the movies, or that the UK isn't America, or gripe because the idioms and food is not what they bothered to learn about.

    Do your research!

    I found that most folks were as interested in where I was from as I was in their locations and them, so comparing notes and sharing in positive ways is good. Smile! Be interested and kind, listen, be willing and open to the experience. Spend some money ungrudgingly, and ask intelligent questions. (Avoid the things we hear at home like, what time does the wind stop? and how old are the deer before they become elk?)

    Mostly, enjoy the people and the places, don't let a few prejudiced or angry folks ruin it for you!

    Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!


    • #3
      Weather? Look out the window!

      LOL...thanks for the reply, Kathy...

      As for weather...well, being this close to the Cascade Mountain range, we predict the weather here on the "5-5-500" rule...give it 5 minutes, go 5 miles or go up or down 500 feet and there's a good chance it will change!

      Coming from someplace where it can get pretty warm during the summer (and with relatively low humidity, at that), we found the weather delightful last time we visited. Don't know if "mizzle" is strictly an Irish term, or if it applies to Scotland as well, but we enjoyed all the aspects...

      I AM inquisitive by nature, and sometimes worry that I might be a little too intrusive by asking, "What's this?" or "What does that mean?". Fortunately, everyone was very patient and went out of their way to make sure we were having a good holiday. We brought some scenic postcards of some of our local sights on our last visit, and those we showed them to did seem to find them quite interesting...

      Bend, OR USA


      • #4
        ye i think youve got it sussed mate.

        be yourself but dont be boastful or arrogant......for god sake dont call any pubs "quaint" ,theres really no need to talk at the top of your voice all the time and hold your phone to your ear when your on it as the whole worlds doesnt want to hear your conversation haha

        as for asking questions id say ask away to your hearts content.....we do love a blether and if it give us a chance to show out wee place off then we will lol


        • #5
          Hi bendmac

          Tig and kathyv are right. Go with the right attitude, to enjoy yourself with a ready smile. It will surprise you just how many folk will be happy to chat away and even ask you questions. Of course in the city during the working week it might not work so well, as a lot of people are in a hurry to and from work. But it's like that in cities the world over.

          Don't expect Brigadoon or, if in Edinburgh, scenes from Greyfriars Bobby (you might find some scenes from Trainspotting down in Pilton and Muirhouse though !) Even since awakened national enlightenment since Braveheart, you still won't find the locals all milling around in kilts. Scotland is a country with a long history, achievements and traditions, but remember it's a modern country and there are Scots who don't really care about the past or traditions and may give a jaundiced view of their country and some may not be that tourist-friendly. But I'm sure I would find a similar situation in the US.

          In all treat folk as you would be treated, respect and a smile, no matter how crap the weather may be !


          • #6
            Thanks to all for the sage advice!

            LOL...we're really looking forward to "re-immersing" ourselves in Scottish culture...I would give anything to better understand who my Scottish ancestors were and what they went through when they immigrated to the (not quite) United States in 1751! ("Fifians" as near as I've been able trace back...)

            When we visited in 2009, it was interesting watching the locals talk about the whole William Wallace/Braveheart/Mel Gibson thing. Don't know if it's true or not, but we heard that the "original" William Wallace statue mysteriously disappeared right after Braveheart was filmed...only to be replaced by one with a striking resemblence to good ol' Mel! (Wouldn't be the saying goes, "Money talks...and BS walks"!)

            We started that 2009 trip in Ireland and we felt very comfortable there...akin, perhaps, to us taking a trip to Canada. No real feeling that we were in a "foreign" country...

            Once we ferried over to Stranraer, though, it was a touch different...all those stone buildings (most everything here is "stick built" in wood)...a slight difference in the language, perhaps...all those rolling rrrrrrrrr's and that lovely Scottish brogue. We started to feel right at home within a few days, however, and were truly sad to leave. Quite a bit of the scenery, at least in certain areas, made us feel like we were in the Willamette Valley here in Oregon. Bend is "high desert-ish", though and THAT was different than anything we saw in Scotland, although some of the more remote unforested areas were a bit similar in a sense.

            One of the things it took us a while to get around when we got back from that first trip was "scale"...the size of things. We figured out that if you took ALL of the UK (Scotland, England, Wales, all the islands, N. Ireland AND the Republic) would all fit inside the state of Oregon, where we live, with room to spare. We think NOTHING about driving 400-500 miles in a single day (and perhaps crossing ONE state line).

            Perhaps I'm being a bit "romantic", but I grew to feel like I'd somehow "come home", in some strange, unexplainable way...perhaps a connection to my ancestors. All I know is that all we've talked about since...was coming back...and back we'll be! (The other half of the family lineage is Italian...yet I don' t have much desire to go visit there...yet!)

            So in my attempts to learn what it's like to be truly Scottish, I just don't want come across to the locals as some sort of "wannabe". I'm a simple American who desires to learn more...NOT a displaced Scotsman by several hundred years! No sense being something you're not!

            Sorry to blather and wax poetic, brothers and sisters...can you feel the LOVE?!?

            Bendmac (Neil)


            • #7
              The wife and I are head back for dream trip #2 in May. This is the honest truthful feelings, about being in Scotland. I love it, I know there is no perfect place on earth, But Y'all come pretty damn close there in Scotland.
              It ahs it quality that I don't want to make comparison too, cause It's Scotland.... My one hope is that we are able to make some contacts with folks that we can develop a friendships with and make the trip even better!!


              • #8
                With regards to the original post I don't think you should over think things; at the end of the day it's supposed to be a holiday and there's no need to walk on egg shells. If you are polite and courteous there should be no need to worry about making a bad impression. There are always some people who suffer from foot in mouth syndrome... I certainly know plenty of Scots who do so it's not a trait peculiar to Americans or any other nationality; don't be embarrassed by their mistakes. I have met people from all over the world including plenty from the U.S and have enjoyed chatting with most of them. There were two incidents that I did find a bit intrusive, both involving cameras. Once when I was repairing a farm fence some tourists stopped their car, got out, took my photo then drove off without saying a word. Another time I met some American visitors when I was out working, had a bit of a chat with them, then without warning again someone just takes my photo. I wouldn't have minded, even if they'd come up to me afterwards and said they'd taken a photo without asking as they wanted the shot to look natural... would it be OK if they kept it? I've had some other mildly amusing experiences such as people stopping me and asking where they might be able to see Sean Connery. That one gave me a bit of a chuckle


                • #9
                  Yeah, we get that kind of stuff around here, people wanting to know where we keep the Indians and if they can look in the barn because they've never seen one.

                  You have to overlook rudeness and ignorance and just be nice to people. You are happier with yourself that way!

                  When the hubby and I take our team out, there's never a time we aren't in someone's picture, I just wish they'd send one to me as it's hard to get a pic of yourself and your rig when you are driving it! But the ones that want us to stop what we are doing and pose for their photo shoot are irritating. Or demand that we take them for a ride, or are angry at us because we aren't giving rides that particular day.

                  The world belongs to all, not just the people with the camera!

                  Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!