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« Scottish Tablet, Candy Alchemy! | Main | Rainy with a chance of... well, more rain »

Why Scotland?

In a recent blog post we had a few comments that asked the same question:

...BTW, why Scotland?

I was wondering the same thing......why did you pick Scotland to put down roots for 6 months???

 I also want to know, why Scotland? What is it about Scotland that has drawn you there?

So we thought we'd answer the question. To put it simply -- we had to get the hell out of Dodge. Dodge being all European countries in the Schengen Zone. You might not know about the Schengen Zone -- you might not care. It's not something that comes up during a typical dinner conversation, "What is that in the chicken? Is it cardamom? And by the way, is Switzerland part of the Schengen zone yet?"

"Oh, absolutely. Since December 12, 2008."

"They're, what, the twenty-fifth Schengen country?"

"Umhm, yeah. Would you pass the squash?"

It's not a need-to-know kinda thing unless you're about to be in violation of the Schengen Treaty. On October 11 we would have officially been illegal aliens. We considered it.

The treaty is very good for travelers. It means that when you go from, say, France to Germany, you don't have to go through customs or show passports. All countries signed to the treaty have removed border controls. You just drive down the road, and at some point the exit signs are in a different language. You know you've hit Germany when the autobahn exits read, "Ausfahrt." Yet another travel joke that never gets old.

The downside is that now a traveler can only be in the Schengen zone for three months out of every six months. The other downside is that nearly everybody in Europe signed the damn treaty. Everybody but Romania, and the UK. Had we started planning for our trip sometime shortly after our own births, we might have been able to get some kind of extended student or work visas. Since we're not students, and not working for anyone, this seemed absurdly complicated.

We considered several places: Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia. We talked about heading away from the Continent all together, to Egypt or Morocco, for a while. We could have gone anywhere really, I guess. Isn't that strange sounding?!

The plan was to stay in one place for a few months, at least. We have projects that we're trying to get off the ground, and wanted time to dive in and get some work done. On the ferry from Amsterdam we were considering three months in the UK, and maybe three more months in Turkey, then back to the Continent in the Spring. London was considered, but was too expensive for us. When we got to Edinburgh all of us fell in love, but we didn't really decided to stay for this long until we were offered six months of super-affordable lodging. We're glad we did.

The short answer: we came, we saw, we liked, we stayed. 

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Reader Comments (6)

Aah, interesting. When I left The Netherlands it was still theory, still passport contol in 1997. So now it is like that, hmmh. Same with US by the way, I forgot if 3 months or 6, but after that period you were illegal. It must have been 3 months. I remember applying for a student visa when I came to CA in '93/'94 for half a year. And not so many choices here to go somewhere else.
Enjoy Scotland, I envy you for the climate. Not many understand this, but I miss the cold and humidity, the grey and the fog. I feel bereft of the so nourishing time of reflection and contemplation, the time of something brooding to come out in spring. In that sense a "productive pause" in Scotland!
Barbara Wood

Nov 16, 2009 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Hmm, I'm from Canada and I don't miss the cold and the humidity and the grey at all. YMMV!

Nov 16, 2009 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRosalind

Winter in Scotland - aah - Scotch!

Nov 16, 2009 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterMargery

Well, may be you lived in the city. In the country side it is amazingly beautiful.

Nov 16, 2009 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

I didn't know Switzerland had joined as well.
You were right though, it is very easy when travelling within Europe, not having to stop at the border each time you cross into a different country.

Nov 16, 2009 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterWinnie

Although a nuisance, there was nothing like the pride of a passport full of stamps from border crossings!

Nov 17, 2009 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commentertraveler

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