Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 20: Glasgow

We farewelled Edinburgh, regretting our departure when it started to rain on us and our luggage while we waited outside for a taxi to convey us to Waverley Station. We suffered through a queue at the car hire place, then had many trying attempts at starting the satnav and then we braved the tiny roads of Edinburgh - people seem to think they can park in narrow streets that barely fit the two-way traffic.

Somehow, after throwing a U-turn near the Scottish Parliament, we managed to escape Edinburgh and its cobbled streets. Once I was hitting 70mph on a motorway, I relaxed and enjoyed the rental car, so like my car at home. The diesel tank means the acceleration kicks in rather abruptly, though.

Bothwell Castle’s ruins greeted us beneath a threatening sky. We approached the castle, passing unfinished fortifications from centuries ago. Even ruined, the castle was impressively large, if empty inside. The donjon was closed for restoration so we received a discount.


It was easier for us to storm the red stone castle than the English during the Independence Wars - they had to use belfreys. Fireplaces and stone benches could still be seen in the walls. The basement and cellars survive and most of the castle is gone, though you can walk into the Great Hall that conveniently has its own latrine - handy for guests too incapacitated to find their way out and across to the latrine tower! As we stood here, imagining minstrels on the wall that would have held the gallery, it started to rain, increasing in speed and volume.

Bit of a gloomy Great Hall these days.

We sheltered in the gift shop as Scotland’s rain slapped the little hut. I bought terribly good cookies and a guidebook. After waiting, we decided “screw it” and ran for the car. Then we acquired lunch from the nearby area. I later read that some guy used the stones from the castle to build a new one in the 17th century, only for it to be outlasted by the ruins, thanks to coal mining subsidence.

We drove to Glasgow and went round and round, failing to find the hotel car park and finally opting for a public car park with reasonable prices. It was a short walk away. After ditching our bags, we headed for Glasgow Cathedral. The sky spat on us but not often, but I still chose to opt for the small camera.

Glasgow’s buildings are lighter than Edinburgh’s, like in London. Edinburgh is volcanic and dark. We passed George Square which seethed with children involved in games and activities, smiling in delight while their parents watched them, pleased to be able to step back.

An attempt at being artistic.

Bagpipes greeted us at Glasgow Cathedral, as did a sign declaring a wedding. Fortunately, the happy couple weren’t tying up the historical location but were tying the knot in a nearby building. We entered the cathedral and a 2 pound donation gave me the confidence to whip out the camera - but oddly it whirred, refusing to focus. This happened a lot and I suspected paranormal shenanigans - perhaps from Saint Mungo, whose tomb was to be found under the main part of the cathedral.

This is a beautiful, old cathedral with so many separate sections you could run several services at once. I saw many tourists in the pews on the main level, though one man seemed lost in contemplation, oblivious to the intrusion.

We wandered outside over some graves, seeking the Necropolis, when a man struck his head out the door and shouted down some directions to us. I suspect he was being less helpful and more annoyed that we were trampling over stone markers. But he did stop us from hitting a dead end. Haha.

Church Lane follows a bridge over a road. It delivered us to the large green hill with its layers of headstones, monuments and mausoleums. The Glasgow Necropolis is a nice, peaceful place and also very large - the top had a good view of the cathedral. There was plenty of space for more graves further down, closer to the road. I saw small trees/large plants growing out from the bases of headstones, toppling the stones to the ground.

Hamunaptra...I mean, Glasgow Necropolis

It started to rain a little more so we left that lovely place. However, the rain stopped as we made our way to Merchant City, its origins in the 18th century when merchants started building there. Roads were closed, giving a festival of some sort free reign. Crowds crawled their way down market stalls wasting money on food and gifts. I myself lost several pounds on sweet things.

While Edinburgh is awesome, and Stirling has an impressive spread of buildings, Glasgow is alive with people.

Brief respite in hotel, then out for a great Indian restaurant. It was atill bright and busy in Merchant City!! Barely got a table. While we were out, we saw a statue of the Duke of Wellington wearing a traffic cone, which I thought was amusing. It turns out the council wastes 10 000 pounds a year removing traffic cones from the poor dude.

"My hat is fabulous. Stop laughing!"

“Home” again in our tiny hotel room. I’m watching history docos on BBC iPlayer.

PS: argh did I really eat all those rum balls

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