Tuesday, July 26:
I had decided to spend Tuesday in Glasgow with my mom and Kevin. We had already seen quite a bit of Edinburgh. And Glasgow is primarily a nineteenth-century city, so the architecture and history cater more to my tastes and Kevin’s.
We took the train relatively early and, after passing through a million villages with names like Linlithgow and Fife, we arrived in Glasgow around 10:00 am. Leaving the train station, I immediately noticed the difference between this city and Edinburgh. Glasgow feels more like a true, working city… people going to and from work, picking up groceries, going to school. Edinburgh seems much more tourist-oriented. In Glasgow, no one in early modern dress passed out fliers on the streetcorner, and I don’t recall anyone playing bagpipes in front of a tee-shirt shop. The architecture is mostly Victorian, but the storefronts seem to overpower the history of the city. In a way this was better, because it felt like I was less likely to be taken in by some cheezy tourist trap. And in a way it was worse, as it was a little more difficult to figure out where exactly we should go.
Hence, we did the tourist-bus thing for the day — one of those obnoxious red double-decker buses, complete with tour-guide-on-microphone. The bus was helpful, though. It have us a general feel of where things were in the city and offered convenient stops in front of some of the more important landmarks.
A summary of our day:
Glasgow Cathedral. The history of the cathedral stretches back to the 12th century, but it is still a working congregation. It was founded on the speculated burial site of Kentigern, more commonly known as St. Mungo, a name that I find extremely funny for some reason. They’re not exactly sure if Mungo is really down there. Or who Mungo really was, to be honest. Mungo just seems to be a reason to build a big impressive church. And the symbols representing his miracles — a bird, a tree, a bell, and a fish with a ring in its mouth — are all over Glasgow. Not just around the cathedral. Painted on the plexiglas surrounding bus stops. On grocery store windows. Etc. From the cathedral, we went to the…
St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. Directly next to the cathedral, this museum gets a lot of tourist overflow. And it’s quite ambitious in its goals, as it documents the traditions of most world religions. The result is a somewhat shallow overview of religious life, including a statue of Shiva displayed under revolving disco lights and a somewhat frightening black and neon green paper maiche skeleton from Mexico’s Day of the Dead. I think the most exciting moment of our visit was when a tourist, sweaty from her trek over cobblestoned streets, decided to take off her blouse in the middle of the museum. Slightly scandalized, we headed off to the…
Necropolis, or “city of the dead,” the enormous cemetery rising on a hill behind the Glasgow Cathedral. Being somewhat intrigued by gravestones — perhaps a symptom of my love of Ray Bradbury — I wasn’t going to miss the Necropolis. And it really was quite beautiful. It’s interesting to see how Victorians buried their dead, and the monuments there are huge and impressive — some crumbling and some, unfortunately, defaced by grafitti or littered by garbage. The top of the cemetery, which features an enormous stone tower dedicated to reformer John Knox, also offered great views of the cathedral and surrounding areas.
Gaslgow Cathedral, with lampposts bearing the symbols of St. Mungo’s miracles:
Mom and I in front of the cathedral:
Glasgow Cathedral seen from the Necropolis:
Some of the graves at the Necropolis:
We hopped back on the bus and took a tour of the rest of the city, making just a few stops. First, we checked out the…
Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbor. We realized after we got off the bus that this attraction was not in fact free. We decided to observe the ship from the far side of the fence. Then back on the bus and off to the…
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, which, I would like to note, are not close to the bus stop at all. We had to hike up quite the hill to get there. And unfortunately, many of the greenhouses were closed. We spent much of our time there resting on the benches and watching some native Glasgowians (Glasgowites?) sunbathing in shorty-shorts. It was maybe 70 degrees outside, and that would be a generous estimate.
A little disgruntled at our garden experience, we treated ourselves to some ice cream on the way back downhill to the bus stop. Kevin reassured me that this was merely to support local business.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city. We visited the modern art museum about five minutes before closing, but we were left to fend for ourselves for about an hour afterward. Our cheap-seats train tickets weren’t good until after 6 pm. We ended up eating at a restaurant called Europa next to the train station. This was, ironically, one of the best meals I had during the trip, probably because I had been walking around all day. Mmmm. Beef and ale pie. I felt truly Scottish. I almost merited a clan.
The Tall Ship, through a Tall Fence:
Looking a little worse for the walking at the gardens:
St. George’s Square, the main square in Glasgow, with the city chambers:
We boarded the train later in the evening to head back to Edinburgh. I, of course, slept on the train, drooling very little.
Next post: the final installation of the travelogue.