It took a trip to Scotland to make me realize that travel is not just about discovering and staring at inanimate objects: a building here, a waterfall there. Nor is it all about the food. No matter how delicious. It’s a mixture of it all and of people you encounter. And I am not just referring to their friendliness or lack there off. I have to confess the looks play a part too.
Ruggedly handsome, mysterious and foreboding, dark and dangerous Scottish lairds or Highlander warriors. Sensual nights in castles and traipsing around lochs. I had very high expectations of the men in Scotland.
At one point I was worried I’d be too tempted to ever come back home to the routine. It crossed my mind that perhaps I’d have to ask the kids to restrain me. I’d have them attach themselves to my legs to stop me even considering leaping and tackling the men we encounter.
It never happened to me before. Plenty of time I was tempted to not go home, but usually it was due to the choppy sea hitting the rugged coast, bucolic landscape or more croissants oozing with butter than I could possibly eat in a lifetime. Those were the things that had me stare so long, I’d commit them to memory and be able to use, when I thought the everyday was killing me. Never people. Or let’s be honest and precise men.
The countries with the best looking men
Sure I’ve noticed them. I am not blind and if I train my eyes to look at the world in wonder, be curios and search for beauty, I can’t berate them when they focus on the beautiful male specimens instead of the buildings behind them:
- In Reykjavik, Iceland a tall, broad shouldered, fair Viking with the beard to match had me turn my head and follow him down the road.
- Norway and Sweden were just as enticing – so much it made me think it must be a Scandinavian thing.
- In Normandy, France my husband had me convinced that the sexy, dark haired waiter with a mischievous grin was flirting with me. Just like daydreaming of being a princess and walking down the gardens of Versailles, I tried to picture myself having a fling for a moment or two. But we all know what happened to French royalty.
- In San Gimignano, Italy a mysterious Italian made me forget to look at the tall protruding towers, my eyes were busying staying on him on the heavily crowded old square.
- In Croatia, over twenty years ago I met my now husband and I still think he’s got it. My tall, dark, broad shouldered, a glint in his eyes Dalmatian.
i can’t help but notice
Now that I think about it, I’ve been actually doing it for years, not only on travels. I do it on the street. I walk and I glance around. If I happen to like what I notice, my eyes linger for a few seconds longer. It means nothing.
Such a sentence doesn’t inspire confidence. But truly. I find the men as another part of the scenery. It’s as if I was looking at lush meadow and noticed a small stream cutting through it, making the scene perfect. It’s a cobbled stone street in the old part of town. A white washed cottage on the edge of the cliff. I love it, but I don’t want to take it home, I don’t want to make it a home.
In reality looking at the stream for a few moments is more than enough. Cobbled streets are too busy to enjoy properly, you can hardly get a decent shot to post on Instagram. And the white washed fairy tale cottage is too expensive to maintain, too remote or too weird to consider devoting the rest of your life to.
So, just as I can resist the magic of Versailles, the Houses of Parliament, the geysers on Iceland, the Plitvice National Park in Croatia and the remote cottages of Scotland, I can resist all the handsome men I pass by. Or so I thought, because Scotland and the many romantic novels I read set in that part of the world had me worried.
what happened in scotland?
I mentally prepared myself, I practiced averting my gaze, I flipped through my wedding album, repeated the vows… and then we landed in Glasgow. Phew, it was late at night, so the airport was all but deserted. We made it to our car. Hours turned to days, we left Glasgow in our rear-view mirror, and we drove through the solitude of the Highlands further up North. Nothing. Not once was I remotely tempted.
Up North there were more sheep than people, so I was good for the whole week. On our final day we noticed a sign for the local festival. This is it, I braced myself as we approached the giant hall where the event took place. I love you I mouthed to my family as I got ready to be swept away by a Highlander I couldn’t possibly resist.
Nothing. While the kids with their red hair and freckles are beyond cute, I found the men disappointing. Not one would qualify for the role of the mysterious laird kidnapping a fair lass. Honestly, I don’t qualify for the role of the lass in question either.
This is the only thing in Scotland I have to admit I found disappointing, but the place has many other redeeming qualities, I am itching for another visit. And I might not be ready to let go of one of my favorite fantasies. Besides it did teach me to notice more in my travels.