On my first-ever visit to Scotland, I was surprised by how cheap groceries were compared to the US.
I came across more American brands in Scotland than I thought I would.
I didn't realize some stores closed for lunch in the middle of the day.
I recently visited Scotland for the first time.
I stayed in Edinburgh and traveled to Glasgow and Inverness by train. I also made a quick trip to England, staying in London.
While I was aware of major differences between the US and Scotland, such as driving on opposite sides of the road, I was still surprised by some aspects of my time there.
I was surprised by how rapidly the Scottish weather changed throughout the day during my visit.
On the morning I hiked up Arthur's Seat, an 823-foot ancient volcano in Edinburgh, the weather started out sunny and clear. By the time I reached the top less than an hour later, I found myself caught in a full-on blizzard.
Other days started with pouring rain and cleared up completely by the afternoon. I quickly realized the importance of a waterproof coat and shoes, and dressing in layers.
In the winter, the sun set earlier in the day than I was used to.
Because Scotland is further north than the contiguous US, daylight hours are even shorter in the winter. I visited Scotland in January, and I was surprised when the golden hour of sunset colors began to appear in the sky around 2 p.m.
I came across more American brands in Scotland than I thought I would, with some differences.
As I walked around cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, I found that American fast-food establishments such as Burger King, KFC, and Subway were widely available.
There were also some surprising differences, like how the UK version of TJ Maxx is called TK Maxx. Both brands are owned by TJX Companies, which has more than 4,700 discount stores around the world, Insider's Grace Dean and Dominick Reuter reported. When the company opened stores in the UK in 1994, they went with "TK" in the name to avoid it being confused with a UK-based discount department-store chain, TJ Hughes.
Some public bathrooms cost money to use.
At the Glasgow Queen Street train station, the bathroom access cost 50 pence (about 62 cents), and only accepted exact change. I don't think I've ever had to pay to use a public bathroom in America.
Groceries were so much cheaper in Scotland compared to what I pay in the US.
Every time I went grocery shopping, I was shocked at how little my total was compared to my usual grocery spending in New York City.
For example, a package of Beyond Meat burgers cost £3 (about $3.71) at the Sainsbury's I visited in Edinburgh, while at Wegman's in Brooklyn they retail for $6.39.
Eggs aren't refrigerated in Scottish grocery stores, and they don't need to be refrigerated at home.
In America, eggs go through a washing and sanitizing process that clears contaminants, but also removes the natural protections that eggs have against bacteria, Insider's Kelly Burch reported. This requires eggs to remain refrigerated to reduce the risk of salmonella.
In Europe, eggs don't go through this sanitization process, so they don't require refrigeration. The UK also vaccinates chickens against salmonella.
As an American, I wasn't used to seeing eggs shelved next to canned goods and dried fruit instead of in the refrigerated section.
I was surprised to find that Scotland uses wooden single-use utensils instead of plastic ones.
Scotland banned single-use plastics in June 2022, becoming the first UK nation to do so. Instead of disposable plastic cutlery, wooden utensils were the norm.
I knew that cars drove on the left in Scotland, but I didn't realize that keeping to the left also applied to pedestrian traffic on staircases and escalators.
Signs at Edinburgh Waverley train station reminded travelers to "Please keep to the left" when walking down the staircase, whereas my instinct as an American would have been to keep to the stairs on the right. Up and down escalators were also on opposite sides than I was used to.
I discovered some stores close for lunch in the middle of the day.
Most stores in the US cities where I've lived don't close for a lunch hour, so I hadn't anticipated finding a closed pharmacy in the middle of the afternoon in Edinburgh.
I was amused by kitschy odes to American culture.
In Glasgow, my partner and I came across a New York City-themed diner and ventured inside to take a look. A neon sign proclaimed: "Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way."
"Clearly written by someone who has never been to Brooklyn," my partner joked.
Read the original article on Insider