Friday, October 05, 2007

Glasgow, Scotland (Saturday, September 29)

The final day of my Scotland trip took me to Glasgow, which is the bottom-left corner of the three-city triangle I visited. Glasgow is an incredible city - and quite possibly my favorite of the three. Glasgow has transformed itself into a major urban/metropolitan city - complete with fashionable malls, squares, restaurants, and businesses.

We started the day at 5:45 again, hiking across Inverness to get to the train station on time. The trip from Inverness to Glasgow was just as pretty as the previous two! When we arrived, though, our Hostel was quite a ways away from the train station. The walk through the city (carrying our luggage, like a couple hopeless tourists) was actually pretty good! We got to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the city, see some great buildings and architecture, and get a feel for the city. It is much more of a contemporary urban center than either of the other two, which is probably why I liked it so much.

Don't get me wrong, Glasgow has it's fair share of amazing art and historical buildings -- they're seamlessly integrated with the city that grew up around it (see my entire album for examples!). We visited the Church of St. Kentigern (St. Mungo, as he's more commonly known) which was absolutely beautiful. The following window was in the church:


It's beautiful in-and-of itself, but if you look you can kind of see that it's made up of a bunch of little squares - each about 1 inch squared. Each square has a letter in it, and starting from the left, working down, then up to the top of the middle windown and down, then the right windown and down, the entire thing spells out the passage "And God said, let there be light..." It really is quite awesome!

Here's a close-up:

St. Kentigern's also had a section in the back - it was a little "apartment" that was mostly used as a meeting place for clergy - but the room is well-known for its beautiful floor tile-work. The rich green, golds and reds in this room give it a very warm feeling - I loved it!

And finally, I took this picture at the train station -- that's right, they have Pasty shops all over the place here! Marketed as "authentic Cornish Pasties." They're a little different from Joe's in Ironwood, but I think I like Joe's better anyway!


Glasgow was, like I said, entirely unique. There wasn't an emphasis on "tourists" visiting (although there WERE plenty of tours and sights to take part in), it was more designed to cater to the urban Scotlander. The shops even had stores like Gucci, Prada, Versaci etc. And I came across an Earnst & Young building right in the heart of the city. I could definitely have seen myself living in this type of city...

We spent most of the day wandering around and just stopping wherever we wanted. I managed to avoid buying anything I would later regret, which was a big plus for me! For dinner (to complete our world-tour of eating) we at at.... a Chinese Buffet!! We were SO adventurous when it came to trying Scottish Haggis or Blood Pudding ;) (no way!)

That night I also had my first BAD hostel experience. The hostel was nice enough - we were staying on the 9th floor in a 10-woman room (our previous two hostels had been two, maybe three floors, max) with some French, Australian, Chinese, and Swedish girls. However, long after I had gone to bed (remember, we had woken up at 5:45 a.m!) a group of girls came in from the pubs (probably around midnight) and turned all the lights on, made all kinds of noise changing and getting ready to go back out, eating, talking on their phones, etc. It was annoying, but we still had plenty of time to go back to sleep... However, at 3:00 a.m. (bar close, I assume) these girls came back and did the SAME THING. Lights on, phones on, eating, talking loudly, giggling, waking everyone up, etc. This time it made me downright angry, but I was too tired to do anything but try to ignore them... I was definitely more than a little tired the next morning when I had to catch an 8:00 train...

So all in all, I liked Glasgow the best. Maybe I was just a little tired of only visiting "tourist trap" cities... I just liked "feeling" what a real European city was like - I could have walked around for a week just taking it all in...

The next morning we learned that a lot of the train routes from Glasgow to Edinburgh were under construction, so we ended up on a double-decker coach bus (can we take one of those to nationals in the spring?) to Edinburgh, and a regular coach bus from Edinburgh to Newcastle, then a train from Newcastle down to Grantham. The bus routes offered scenery different from that we experienced on the train routes, which was nice. I am amazed at how they manage to keep those buses, which get so high off the ground when they're double-decked!, from falling over... These guys are pretty amazing drivers...

It was a really great experience - and I loved the whole trip through Scotland. I will definitely be back again...

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3 comments:

KJ said...

With all of your detailed commentary, it's easy for me to see where JK Rowling got the inspiration for many of the names in her books (St. Mungo's hospital!)

You need to carry earplugs and a sleep mask with you to the hostels so you don't get woken up. I think I would have punched those girls!

And NO - a double decker bus is NOT on the adgenda for nationals . . . it makes me nauseous just thinking about it!

Miss you! - KJ

Collin said...

Dude, that lion is cold chillin. Straight up.

Butchie said...

How are we ever going to get you back to the states?