Chris DeBaun’s fascinating reflections of his holiday to Scotland reveals how others see us – and not all of it is entirely complimentary.
In his online post, the professional photographer from Charlottesville in Virginia summed up his fortnight’s tour, during which he travelled as far north as the Orkney Islands, came across boisterous Old Firm supporters and followed the tourist trail to places like Loch Ness, Stirling Castle, Edinburgh and the Kelpies.
In the course of his 25 ‘Post Trip Observations’ – on everything from electricity sockets to haggis – which he declares is ‘f*****g awesome’ and encourages his fellow Americans to eat, he praised Scots for our warm welcome and settled for once and for all which city is best, Glasgow or Edinburgh.
He plumped for Glasgow.
Within hours of his post appearing on popular Facebook site Scotland from the Roadside, Chris, had received thousands of ‘likes’ and hundreds of comments from its followers from around the world, debating his observations and urging him to visit again.
Now back home in Virginia, Chris, who travelled with wife Rochelle, told how he’s been left bowled over by the responses to his list – and that he can’t wait to come back to Scotland.
“We were delighted beyond words with Scotland. We’ve travelled all over the world and the Scots are the friendliest people we have ever met anywhere.
“Complete strangers would come up and start blethering to us, asking what we were doing and where we were from. The people were fantastic and so gracious.”
Chris and wife Rochelle were in Glasgow at the weekend when Old Firm fans poured into the city centre. Yet he insists the powder keg of rivalries simply added to the city’s charm.
“All the pubs were spilling out on the street, all the smokers were outside having a cigarette and crowds of people were cheering, it was hugely entertaining.
“I do kind of regret saying I preferred Glasgow to Edinburgh, but I did find the Royal Mile and the Castle too touristy.
“Glasgow had a vibrancy that’s under-rated. Everyone wants to go to Edinburgh and walk the Royal Mile but I found the energy, especially on Saturday night after a football match like that in Glasgow with all the people in fancy dress and girls dressed up meant there was a pulse and vibrancy to the city that Edinburgh doesn’t have.”
He covered over 1100 miles during his Scottish road trip but admits he found it hard to capture the scenery in all its glory for bus loads of Chinese tourists.
“If there was one thing I’d change,” he added, “it’s the roads.
“Driving through Glencoe in the rain, there’s not room to put a sheet of paper between you and the vehicle that’s passing you at 50 mph, so you’re driving with your hands in a death grip on the steering wheel.
”Most of all - We were always received with warmth and graciousness all across this beautiful country by everyone. If you are ever in central Virginia (USA) look me up. Dinner and a pint will be on me.”