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.