Friday, March 5, 2010

Grey Glasgow

we headed to Glasgow with very little idea of what we were going to do. I'd been there before, but I still can't remember what I did. We were basically going because it was the only place we'd been able to find cheap accommodation with a double bed and a kitchen (no point getting cheap accommodation if you have to eat out for every meal!) The bus ride was long and boring, and I spent most of it feeling more motion sick than I ever have in my life (well, except for that one flight back from Canberra) Just as well I don't throw up... It was pretty uneventful, except for Andrew trying to withdraw money from a cash machine (we'd already discussed it and I'd told him we didn't need anymore, but hey...) and it not giving him the money. He called the helpline listed on the machine and was told he'd need to report it to our bank who would sort it out...
So we finally arrived in Glasgow and hopped in a taxi. The driver seemed confused when we told him the address of where we were going so we showed him - the reason for the confusion was that we were staying in student accommodation. It was kind of cool actually. We got a room with a double bed and TV with a tiny little en suite, in a 'flat' of 6 who we shared a kitchen with. There were 3 flats per floor and 4 floors in each of 4 buildings. The kitchen was sadly lacking in, well... pretty much everything, so we had to pull out our collapsible bowls and cups and we discovered that our cups leaked making them rather useless. We set out that first afternoon/evening to find our way into town and to find a supermarket. It was a fair walk and on the way back, taking a different route, we found 2 supermarkets much closer to 'home'.
Having complained that the weather in London resembled Spring more than Summer, the weather in Glasgow was much closer to a Melbourne Winter. With no idea of what was worth seeing, we started by exploring the town, finding the bank (so Andrew could report our lost money) and internet access. Then we caught the City Sightseeing bus. You can see these in a lot of cities in Europe (actually I think there's one in Melbourne these days) They're big red double decker buses painted with bright childish pictures that take you around the city to all the major sights with a commentary on the sights and the city along the way. They have regular stops where you can hop off and on again and tickets are valid for 2 days (well theoretically 24 hours). From this, Andrew decided that he wanted to see the cemetery, and I wanted to see St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art (I wasn't at all interested until they mentioned that it covers all religions). We just took the bus all the way around the first time though and decided to visit these the following day. Our first tour had a pre-recorded commentary, which is good if you want it in a language other than English (8 languages offered) but because we were sitting on the exposed to level and because my ears are the wrong shape for those itty bitty headphones, my headphones kept falling out and I missed half of it. Also, the wind up there was freezing, so a nice warm lunch was sought afterwards. This would be how we discovered the joys of chips with cheese and gravy. It sounds scary (and looked rather scary too, due to the orange hue of the red Leicester cheese) but it's oh so good. This was our lunch more often than not in Glasgow.
We hopped on the bus the following day to find we had a live commentary, but we hopped off only a few stops later to visit the aforementioned sights. The religious museum was really cool and did at least touch on a LOT of different religions, though it focused on Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism. There was a range of art from various religions, Information about the lives of people following the main 6 religions, rites of passage from many religions... I think I drove Andrew crazy by wanting to read all the plaques... The cemetery was pretty cool too, with some really elaborate headstones, and a great view of the city.
We hopped back on the bus to find we had another live guide, but this one was hysterically funny. She reminded me of a friend of mine and just had a wicked sense of humour. She told us about Glasgow's new bridge over the Clyde (which is named the Clyde Arch) being known locally as Squinty Bridge because it goes across on an angle and the conference centre (which looks a bit like a squished Sydney Opera House) being known as the Armadillo... We laughed all the way through. She also told us that tourism is new to Glasgow - 20 years ago a tourist in Glasgow had gotten lost on the way to Edinburgh, and that they like tourists because they love to talk and tourists are 'fresh meat'
And that was really about all we did with our week in Glasgow. They're big on shopping and there's a few museums, but not much else. Plus the weather got rainy about mid-week - one of the days we were walking into town and a bus drove through a puddle and I got drenched across my bum and down my right leg to the knee. NOT a good start to the day... We had a really pleasant quiet week, caught up on emails and started planning where else we want to go, and finally headed out on a bus back to London

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