Monday, July 12, 2010

I never seen nothin' like a Glasgow girl

Or something like that.

After today, I have now visited Glasgow twice, so I will report on both experiences simultaneously.

On Friday we headed to Glasgow for the first time, and though we expected rain (and got a bit), it ended up being a beautiful day. Having been advised to take the red touring buses rather than the blue, we bought our tickets and hopped onto one of the familiar-looking double-deckers at the stop in George Square, the principal civic square of the city. Wesat on the top of the bus, of course, to get the best view and were not deterred by the sprinkling of rain that began soon after our ride commenced. Armed with my trusty pink North Face, I am always ready to brave the elements.

As often happens with these kinds of tours, I took lots of beautiful pictures of buildings and statues I will never be able to identify. Between the mumbling brogue of the tour guide and my own lack of interest in actually stepping off the bus to investigate these historic sites, my only hope is to avail myself of the tour map and a Google image search if I ever wish to know exactly what I saw that day. Perhaps it's best not to take in too much the first time around. If you do, what's the point of going back? It'll all be old-hat by then. So really, 'twas strategy for me not to pay too close attention to that particular tour. That way, I was motivated to go back today, rather than sit in our house and blog.

We did finally get off the bus at Stop 19. Our destination: the Willow Tearooms, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was a Scottish architect and designer, and our primary interest in him that day was due to the fact that our hostess, Sue, is a Mackintosh.* So naturally, she feels a kinship to this renowned artist.

After a delightful afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and scones,

we decided to head to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Our bright red tour bus includes the museum as one of its stops, but that particular site was three stops in the wrong direction (these buses only go one way). So we were forced to take alternative transportation: the Glasgow Underground!**

The Kelvingrove Museum was very cool. One half of the museum was devoted to "Expression" (AKA "Art"). The other side was "Life" (AKA "History"). And both sides had interactive exhibits. Admission was free and you could take pictures of everything. They also had quite a nice gift shop n the basement. Across the road was the Transportation Museum, which is also probably really cool, but we didn't have time to see it because the museums closed at 5. My mother and I noticed while touring the museum that the exhibits didn't exactly have a uniting theme. It was as if one guy was picking them all based on whatever his whims were that day. The eclectic nature of the place was actually pretty funny, but at least it didn't get boring. It even included exhibits on sectarianism in Britain and Ireland and a history of abuse against women. Good times!

At 5 p.m. exactly we were ousted from the museum, so we hopped back on the double-decker and rode back to George Square. Not quite ready to leave Glasgow, we asked a Red Bus employee to recommend a good (cheap) pub. He directed us toward a chain establishment on George Square called The Counting House. For all that it was a chain, the drinks were tasty (and cheap as hell, at least for Europe). I enjoyed a Pimm's Lemonade, which if you haven't tried, you should. Mix Pimm's with lemonade (duh), then add the juice of lemons, limes, and oranges, and then some muddled mint leaves. It's like a mix between a sangria and a mojito. Delightful. When our stay at The Counting House drew to a close, we returned to the Queen St. train station (which is also right on George Square) and returned to Larbert.

Day 2 in Glasgow was a little less eventful but no less enjoyable. Having taken in our historic sites, we devoted this trip to a little more exploration of the shopping and food districts. Our progressive lunch took us to The Grill Room at 29 Glasgow and to Zorba's on High St. I won't bore you with the details of what we ate, but I will say that the Mediterranean fare of Zorba's was not only tastier, but more reasonably priced and more authentic. We trekked down Trongate (Street? Road?) to find the Barras, a more market-like shopping area, but all the stalls were closed on a Monday. Weird. We ended up in the St. Enoch Shopping Center off of Trongate (or Buchanan, depending on where you enter) and found the best chocolate shop called Kimble's (I know, appropriate). Our return to Larbert saw us sit in the Hotel Bar next the train station for an hour to enjoy a pint before walking home.

Like I said, not very eventful (or particularly exciting, now that I'm writing it down), BUT I hope if any of you plan to visit Glasgow, you might find something to eat at Zorba's or Kimble's. And maybe you can tell me how the Barras was. Just don't go on a Monday.

*Don't tell her, but today we read a newspaper article that suggested Rennie Mackintosh may have traced some of his furniture designs from catalogs.
**An interesting note on the GU: the subway has been in Glasgow for over 100 years, but in that time it has only ever been six miles long. Why didn't they expand, you ask? Because it is a circle. Very difficult to add miles of track to a circle. So there you go. You can stump your friends with that one.


  1. Sounds like you are having fun! I like you footnotes, btw :)

  2. Also, thank you for commenting.