Thursday, February 14, 2008

GLAS"GLOW"







While on the train zipping to Glasgow I started a conversation with my seatmate. (If you've been keeping up with this blog, I know that doesn't surprise you! ) He asked where I was going and I answered, "Glasgow."

"Oh, wanting to do a bit shopping are you?"

"No, just seeing the sights. I'm from the US. Plenty of shopping there."

He nodded and went back to reading his paper. I thought his comment a little odd. But when we got off the train and hit Buchanan Street I understood. The shops were a lot how I remembered "downtown" before malls, only multiply it by ten! Buchanan Street, Sauchiehall Street, Argyle Street, are lined with fun shops, furniture stores, high fashion retailers. For all you "Mall Shoppers" there is the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in the middle of Glasgow city center which boasts of at least 90 of the most popular retailers. All I can say is bring lots of money and comfy walking shoes.

Fortunately, for my pocketbook, I'm not much of a shopper. I eat, I like art, architecture, and history and Glasgow didn't let me down.

First order of business after leaving the station was to locate our lodgings. My sis-n-law had enough of hostel life so we reserved a room in the Smith Hotel on Sauchiehall Street. A Scottish angel noticed our clueless expression on where to find the hotel, took pity on us and gave us directions. So with our refridgerator size backpacks we trekked the 1 1/2 mile walk. Fortunately, it was downhill. I didn't even want to think of the return trip!

Smith Hotel was clean and secure. Our hostess was pleasant even though I couldn't understand a word of her English and she couldn't understand me. So we wrote each other notes. She put us on the third floor. Ugh, more stairs! The bathroom was right across the hall, so that was convenient.

Note: I've found no elevators in B&Bs or budget hotels. Think about that when you pack. Also, prepare yourself to see guys walking from the bathroom wrapped in a towel. Men! They don't have body image problems at all. Especially those who need too! Wish I were that liberated!
Included in the hotel price was a full Scottish breakfast which was enjoyable. I saw something new there. One offering on the menu was "beans on toast." It was literally what we in America know as canned pork and beans, poured over toast. A man next to me had a plate full and really seemed to enjoy it. Go figure.
After resting a while, we set out to find an internet cafe, our lifeline. Just around the corner was a tiny coffee shop named, Hal's Coffee Shop. He had one laptop but we seldom had to wait for our turn. The times we waited we enjoyed some of the best coffee I've ever drank.

Glasgow is more modern than Edinburgh. If you love art, this is the city for you. There you can peruse through the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, the Hunterian Art Gallery, and the Gallery of Modern Art. If you like the theatre, you will not be be disappointed. The only frustration you will experience is having time to visit them all.


If you love architecture, be sure and visit the University of Glasgow.

It is situated by a beautiful park, Kelvingrove. There are lush walks and jogging trails. The River Kelvin runs through it. There are many beautiful places to rest and reflect.


As I mentioned earlier, I like to eat! We came across Parker's Bar in the West End of Glasgow. It looked pretty busy, always a good sign when the locals are there, so we decided to give it a try. I was really hungry so I ordered the "tried and true" Steak and Ale Pie. It was really tasty, and I embarrassed myself by eating it all.


For the evening meal we chose Sutherlands Restaurant which was close to our hotel on Sauchiehall Street. And at Sutherlands I took the plunge and ordered Haggis. In case you don't know, Haggis is a Scottish dish that contains meats that would horrify my "food safety" husband.


Haggis usually contains sheep lung, heart, liver, onion, spices, oats, and is cooked in a sheep stomach. It is served alongside neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes)


I knew this, so the first bite was daunting. I found it to have the same mouth feel as ground beef and the nutmeg gave it such a pleasant taste. I liked it! In fact, I'd eat it again!


One other place I'd like to recommend is O'Neill's. This Irish Pub has great food. I ordered the Irish Stew, Olivia had the chicken breasts on colcannon, (mashed potatoes and cabbage) and Chee Chee had the Quorn Sausage Skewers. Oh, and when they "pull" your Guinness into the glass they form a shamrock in the foam. Kind of like swirling the top of an ice cream cone. Nice touch!
TIP:
A lot of our time in Glasgow was wasted trying to find lodgings for our next stop. We ran into a problem because it was a school holiday for the entire UK. Every B&B and hotel in our price range and beyond was full. If I had known this, I would have arranged for lodgings before we left the US. But we didn't want to be slaves to a schedule. Good idea, but bad results.
Make a note of the school schedules in the UK.
Academic year 2008-2009
Autumn term
Autumn Half Term: from 27 October 2008 to 31 October 2008
Christmas Holidays: from 22 December 2008 to 02 January 2009
Spring term
Spring Half Term: from 16 February 2009 to 20 February 2009
Easter Holiday: from 06 April 2009 to 17 April 2009
Summer term
Summer Half Term: from 25 May 2009 to 29 May 2009
Summer Holiday: from 23 July 2009 to 31 August 2009
If your trip falls into one of these holidays, make your arrangements before you come. That way you won't waste time at the computer trying to find a place to stay.
I finally found a B&B close to Gatwick. Since Chee Chee was leaving several days before Olivia and I we decided to stay there for her conviences and make a day trip to Bath.
We had a plan, and it was time to leave. I dreaded lugging that backpack on the 1 1/2 mile walk uphill. But I think what really made my steps heavy was because I was leaving Scotland.