Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Scotland looks just like you imagine it will. Flying over and catching a train through the country, it's all cliffs and crags, with windmills lost in the low-lying clouds. Fields are either green with grass or white with snow. There are lots of rocks, and even more churches: most towns I went through had at least three steeples visible from the train station. Glasgow has many of them, but I'm told most of them aren't churches any more. One is now a really awesome bar and live venue, and another is a block of flats where I stayed. Woo! And I didn't burst into flames as I crossed the threshold! I stayed with my friends Michael and Callum, who I have been talking to online since I was in high school, and this was the first time we met. They were lovely and hospitable, and made me laugh harder than I have in ages. Good times. Although it was another of those bizarre travel moments: who would've thought, when chatting to Michael in my school uniform nearly a decade ago, that I'd one day be sleeping on his couch?

So Michael and Callum showed me around Glasgow, and what a nice city it is. A quick stroll through the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery (which was built back to front, a man on the bus helpfully told us - this is true, but the man also told us that the architect killed himself as a result, and this appears to be less true) and the surrounding gardens preceded a cafe stop. GLASGOW HAS PROPER CAFES. After six months of living in London, where the only decent cafes are a handful in Soho run by antipodeans, this was very exciting for me. Despite Scotland's reputation for terrible and unhealthy food, all the meals I had were creative, flavourful and fresh. Although I didn't get around to trying pizza cruch, which is deep-fried pizza. Callum also showed me through his old university, and when I say "old", I mean "OLD". More than twice the age of white civilisation in Australia. And beautiful, too, all turrets and arches and courtyards.

The west end was also a delightful neighbourhood, full of quirky bars and cafes that stopped just short of being pretentious (for example, a bar called Radio with old casette tapes glues to the walls). The city centre was nice, too: it had a "big city" feel with none of the manic horror of London. Just a short walk from there was Glasgow's cathedral, one of the most impressive of its kind I've seen (and y'all know what a fan of big old buildings I am) built next to an enormous necropolis. Bleak and gorgeous. Glasgow's nightlife, as I saw it, was great fun, too, featuring non-stop amazing pop hits. I struggled keeping up with what everyone was saying at some points (Michael is English and Callum live in America until he was seven, so their accents are not frighteningly dense) but, with my mastery of the important travl skills of nodding and smiling, I soldiered on and had a great night.

Finally, a trip into twon and, after bidding Michael and Callum farewell, met up with Anna, who you may remember from Stockholm. Good times. We went to another of Glasgow's excellent eateries (two of them, actually: one for lunch and one for dessert) before I caught a train to the airport. And there begins the dram: the train timetable was incorrect, so I had to wait an extra half hour for a train. Then, when I landed in England, my coach to London was delayed and, when I arrived in London, my tube line was closed. Ugh. All in all, it took me about seven hours to get home, whereas a direct train would have taken about five. Now I've learned a lesson.

I'll certainly be back in Glasgow at some point. It had a nice feel to it, and I could see myself living there.

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