A FREE Rucksack Universe Short Story
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Originally published in London Rising.
From The Lost & Found Travels of BS Trotter
Scotland has been a favorite travel destination for years, and you’ll soon find, Constant Companion, that Guru Deep’s new Scotland Through the Third Eye guidebook will be a favorite for your backpack or suitcase. The timing couldn’t be better: 75 years ago this month, the signing of the Treaty of Stirling restored Scotland’s independence as a sovereign nation in a post-Blast world.
Scotland is a country of hard history yet enduring romance. The rolling hills of the Highlands. The lush Lowlands. The otherworldliness of the narrow yet boundless islands. Two powerhouse cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, each pull you in its own way. There is so much to see that it can be overwhelming. Luckily, for any traveler hitting the road, there is nothing like a good guide to help you on your way.
Through the Third Eye guidebooks have become common sights with travelers over the years. This latest installment is an excellent reminder why the series has become essential to anyone from backpackers to business travelers. Available beginning this Tuesday (prepping for weekend adventures, anyone?), Deep’s Scotland is 300 pages of witty, concise, informative, encouraging travel information. At its core, an adventurous heart will have you swooning for everything from a taste of whisky in the Highlands and a romp through Edinburgh and Glasgow, to a boat ride to the Isle of Skye and a reflective moment in Stirling Castle, where the Treaty of Stirling was signed.
“Scotland is one of the most fascinating countries and cultures in the world,” says Guru Deep. “With the anniversary of independence approaching, it was time to put out the definitive guide to a country of such deep history and geographical variety.”
Deep’s singular style also accompanies you like a travel companion. Beginning with an introduction that lays out Scottish history and gives an overview of modern Scotland, the book’s organization is similar to other Through the Third Eye titles. After the introduction, a general planning guide addresses logistics such as getting there, transportation, money matters, passport and visa particulars, and other details. From there the book is organized by region: Lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands, and Islands. Within each section, further breakdowns by region or city are included, along with well-organized chapters that cover accommodation, food and drink, top destinations, popular itineraries, and more.
Of particular note is the guidebook’s extensive history of Scotland, especially its details of Scottish independence. After The Blast, with the British Empire failing in the wake of London burning, Scotland (along with Ireland and India) was able to gain its independence through a bloodless revolution. Deep takes us beyond the history books, showing us the story behind the story that is as enthralling as a good novel. Post-Blast independence movements have been lauded as miracles. For the first time we delve deeply into the figures—and legends—that took Scotland from being part of a United Kingdom, to becoming the driving force that transformed the island of Britain into three separate countries: England, Scotland, and Wales.
“Independence movements seem like mandates only in hindsight,” Deep writes. “Scotland’s independence was not a foregone conclusion. It was a modern miracle: a confluence of circumstance, a triumph of negotiation over violence, and a legend of a singular figure who rose from the void and led a people and a country to a new vision of themselves.”
Reception among the travel community has been positive overall. Travelers have noted the ease of use that Through the Third Eye guidebooks consider a hallmark. “There is so much here that I never knew about Scotland,” says a traveler who gave his name only as Jay. “I could spend a lifetime there and still not see everything.”
Other travelers noted the quality of maps and photographs, always a friend to the traveler. There are enough photos to pique your wanderlust. The maps, especially of urban areas, are rendered with the best detail and accuracy in the industry.
Deep and his army of guidebook-writing travelers have gone over every inch of Scotland, meeting fascinating figures throughout its rural areas, villages, and cities. Never before has a guidebook on this fascinating place delved so deeply, especially into areas such as the islands, from the Shetlands and Orkneys in the north, to Inner and Outer Hebrides, such as Islay and even distant St. Kilda. You’ll see cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness in a new light. Even if you’ve been to them before, you’ll be ready to go again and experience them as if for the first time.
Legend also accompanies fact, such as tales of a mysterious leatherworker on the Isle of Lewis. Does he exist? Is his genius real? Can you pay for his wares with a dead polecat you found on the side of the road? Does he, in fact, control the fate of Scotland?
Scotland has changed much since its days in the British Empire, and Scotland Through the Third Eye bravely shows this ancient, fascinating country in the detail and respect Scotland deserves. The care taken with detail is exquisite. The writing is evocative and inspiring. And you, dear traveler, might as well pick up your copy and then immediately buy a ticket to get you there as soon as possible.
“We set out in the Third Eye books to give travelers the world over a way to feel like they were in a place, even if they weren’t there yet,” explains Guru Deep. “Once they had arrived, we wanted them to feel like we were wandering together. Our new Scotland adventure is a culmination of research and on-the-ground exploration. We get to know the real Scotland, and the real people and history who make this place what it is. Scotland remains one of my favorite destinations, and this guidebook is not only the newest in the series, it is also the fulfillment of a personal quest. I have gotten to explore Scotland the way I have always wanted to explore Scotland—and now I hope you do too.”
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The Rucksack Universe is Anthony St. Clair’s ongoing series of myth, adventure, beer, and globetrotting intrigue.