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View of the Stirling valley from the National Wallace Monument

My first trip to Scotland happened in 2003, when I was 22, and it went down like this. My buddy Tim and I sat in the basement of the Great Dane bar in Madison as we neared graduation from college. I’d never been to Europe and I had basically no money to pay for a trip, but we decided to go for it during winter break. I borrowed money from my generous older siblings, packed my things, hopped an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, and promptly got sick. I struggled through a week in Ireland before flying to Edinburgh. Tim and I hung out for a weekend there before he flew back to the States. He had one more semester. I had graduated and had planned a longer jaunt on my own after he left.

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