I didn’t watch an episode of Outlander or sit through a couple hours of Braveheart and think, “Ooo, Scotland is pretty, I need to move to Scotland!”, even though, you know, it is pretty.
Actually, pretty is not the right word, Scotland is stunning and complex and rugged.
And do not get me started on the array of accents that make my heart flutter. Or the way the bagpipes make my skin tingle whenever I hear them.
Did I mention the bacon sandwiches? BACON SANDWICHES are a thing in Scotland. There are small shops dedicated to serving up rashers of bacon (sometimes with fried onion) inside a warm bun or baguette. Bacon. Sandwiches. For. Breakfast.
But I digress. For now.
Québec City is, without a doubt, my favourite city in Canada. It’s European charm with a side Canadian flair. The streets of old Québec are lined with buildings that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, a mixture of French and British styles (mostly British in some cases). Some of the streets are cobble-stoned and every stone seems to have a story.
I have a lovely one bedroom apartment in the old city, run a website dedicated to Québec City and wrote a guidebook highlighting local artisans, producers and businesses. I’m an anglophone who fell in love with a francophone city and decided to call it home when I’m not on the road.
Naturally, I’m fluent in French and have tons of Québec friends.
Or so most people assume.
In truth, my French is rudimentary at best. While I remember words and phrases as I go about my days in the city, I forget how to form proper sentences, which makes conversations difficult. Thankfully, in the old city, many people speak a little English and my days run pretty smoothly.
Except when I need to take a taxi somewhere, and the driver is chatty, and he looks as though he might be seriously annoyed that I don’t speak French, so I spend the entire ride reading his body language and facial expressions and then smile, tsk, nod at appropriate intervals. Believe it or not, this usually works. Or it doesn’t and they curse me as soon as they drop me off.
I need to improve my French, aside from daily Duolingo lessons. I should probably stop procrastinating and just do it already.
Life in Québec City is good. There are plenty of cute and friendly French men to flirt with and the food is delicious. It is pretty any time of year and I love exploring all the streets and alleys and boutiques and cafes.
But, I still want to move to Scotland.
My desire goes beyond Scotland’s stunning landscapes and has nothing to do with Outlander (I’ve seen the show, it is okay. I read 3/4 of the first book, it was okay too), it is, in part, ancestral.
I fell in love with Scotland during my first trip in 1998. I was captivated by the history and architecture, the friendliness of the locals and the way my skin would tingle and dance whenever I heard someone planning the bagpipes. I may have cried a little over the beauty of the notes while laying on the grass and staring up at Edinburgh castle.
Similar to Québec City, Scotland feels like home, and the more I visit, the more the country draws me in. Someday, I want to move to Scotland.
I want to explore Edinburgh’s café scene and delve into the nuances of Scotland’s small-town pubs. I want to buy a small car and drive every inch of Scotland (including islands big and small). I want to experience Hogmanay in a town or village in the highlands and do a little hiking. I want to visit the streets where my ancestors lived in Glasgow and other areas of Lanarkshire.
I want to trick my mind into thinking that eating Haggis is a good idea and that believing in the fair people is not utterly ridiculous (that may be a tough sell).
I’m not going to drop my life in Québec City and buy a one-way ticket to Edinburgh, but I am planning a multi-month adventure to discover more about my Scottish heritage, and test out whether I could move to Scotland and make it another home base.
Someday, I want to move to Scotland. Not today, but someday.