Hey CYY freaks! I'm finally back from a much needed two weeks of vacation. I did everything from snowmobiling over a glacier north of Reykjavik to watching the New Year's fireworks get shot off of Edinburgh castle. It was pretty spectacular, I must say, however, I couldn't help but notice that both Iceland and Scotland had some pretty big similarities to Maine - especially Scotland. Here's what I observed:

The South is More Populous Than the North
Just like Maine, the bulk of Scotland's population resides in the south of the country. The cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh make up for much of the whole country's population, with smaller cities like St. Andrews and Inverness scattered throughout the Highlands. Scotland's mountainous north also reminded me somewhat of Northern Maine, albeit a little more spectacular.

Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
Xander Nelson
Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
Xander Nelson
Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
Xander Nelson
Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
Xander Nelson

Case in point.

The Locals are Tapped into Nature
Speaking of the natural beauty of Scotland, the Scots are well aware of the amazing resources available to them, and take full advantage. A big part of life in Maine revolves around nature, and so too in Scotland. Much of the nation's tourism revolving around taking a look at the dense forests and rolling glens up north. Scots also have an amazing law that gives them what's called the Right to Roam - the right to explore and camp anywhere in Scotland, regardless of who owns the property they're camping on, so long as they're not deemed bothersome.

Everyone's Really Nice
I hate to cast any sort of wide blanket, but I think I'll be forgiven if it's a positive one. Just like Mainers, the Scots are a warm and welcoming bunch, who all seem chipper to have visitors from other places wandering around. Everyone was always ready with directions, restaurant recommendations and more, which has always been something that I loved about Maine.

Fort Williams is Our Very Own Run Down Castle
Scattered all over Scotland is a collection of amazing castles - some are still in use, but most are mainly tourist destinations at this point. For example, Doune Castle, pictured below, is open to explore, and gives me some serious Fort Williams vibes. Fun Fact: Doune Castle is also where much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was shot!

Dalhousie Castle, now used as a hotel
Xander Nelson
Doune Castle, whete Monty Python was filmed
Xander Nelson
Inside Doune Castle
Xander Nelson

Edinburgh Has It's Very Own Old Port
Although it doesn't quite have the same Northeast feel that Portland's Old Port has, Edinburgh has it's own cobblestone-laden downtown area. The Royal Mile stretches through the center of town, and plays host to a number of shops and 'closes' - tiny streets from the olden days of the city. Victoria Street is a must-visit place when you visit - it was JK Rowling's inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series! Plus, to top it off, the Royal Mile ends at the front gate of Edinburgh Castle... Portland might have some great sights, but I don't think the Old Port can beat that.

Victoria St
Xander Nelson
Edinburgh Castle
Xander Nelson

One thing I noted that was opposite of Mainers, however, was the Scots' resilience during the winter months. I heard a few Scots complaining about the winter weather, which in Scotland averages out to the low 40s in fahrenheit. They should try the winter we're having here on for size.

Scotland is a truly amazing place. If you ever get the chance, go and visit - you won't be disappointed. Now, back to radio, viral videos and bad jokes!