In September we chose a rather warm climate, but last month we headed north to Scotland. The flight from London Gatwick to Glasgow International Airport was about the equivalent of flying from Toronto to Ottawa. And for the first time in awhile I was able to get off the plane without finding myself trapped in a massive line intended for “non EU passport holders”. In Italy Jack zipped ahead of me as I waited behind maybe 200 Americans who had arrived from New York, what luck.
We got in on a Sunday night with just a few days to spend in the city. We were lucky enough to have lovely friends – Miriam and Tim – meet us at the bus station in the city centre. From there the obvious next step was to find a pub or bar of some sort. They know all of the best spots. Our first stop was Nice N’ Sleazy, usually crowded but on a Sunday evening it was a lot more tame. My first pint in Scotland was not a Tennant’s, but that came a few days later when we found ourselves in a rather strange bar. We had a half and made a swift exit.
Glasgow seems to have some sort of reputation for violence etc, but I found the city to be full of kind people. What got me the most was the stunning architecture. Most notably, University of Glasgow. Walking through the Campus would probably make you think about Hogwarts and then make you wish you had gone to school in Glasgow. It made my University campus seem small in comparison, and certainly a lot more boring. But then again, a lot of things back home can seem “boring”, especially since history runs so much deeper in the UK.
While we did spend a lot of time checking out numerous drinking spots, we also managed to have a day where we wandered out of the West End. We were lucky enough to stay with Miriam and Tim in their amazing flat right in the centre of the West End, which, by the way, is probably the coolest area to stay in while in Glasgow.
So, we took a bus to Luss, which was about an hour. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we were dropped off outside the little village, where we walked down to Loch Lomond. The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond…
What a view. It was a foggy day but beautiful none the less!
We then made our way back to some trails, where we hiked up some roads, going up and up. The hills were amazing, but unfortunately, we managed to take the wrong trail as recommended by Tim and Miriam. That was a bummer, but we still had a great afternoon and had plenty of good views. We also had numerous encounters with sheep and cows.
After a day of hiking we had rather sore feet, but that didn’t deter us from going to, yes, more bars! I even managed to find a pumpkin ale at a place called Dram. That was very exciting, because I had been searching for many weeks at this point. We spent what we thought was our last day at a Botanics garden, which was amazing. I had never seen so many species of plants in my life. It made me wish I had my very own greenhouse. We also went to a nice little hidden tea house called Tchai Ovna. We would have never found it without specific directions from Miriam. We also checked out some cool vintage shops in the West End. Basically, I decided that I should live in Glasgow at some point. It was overwhelming how cool this city is! Even though it rains and the sky is grey quite often, I found the people much friendlier than here in good old England. Sorry guys. It’s that Scottish charm that got me.
And the icing on the cake – our flight was cancelled. Which meant one more night in Glasgow. Could it be?! YES! So we had a chance to check out a really traditional night of Scottish céilidh music. I drank whisky and ginger, and wondered why everyone was so hard to understand. Were they drunk? Was I drunk? Or was I really that ignorant? I couldn’t understand the thick accents!
A man old enough to be my grandfather said something I couldn’t understand, grabbed me by the arm and swung me violently around in some sort of dance I had never seen or done before. Everyone was laughing, eventually the horror on my face turned into a smile and I was enjoying myself, despite being slammed into other men and women on the dance floor. I was mildly confused but also delighted to be taking part and having a truly authentic Scottish experience.
Here is where it all starts to make sense…sort of.
About an hour later they asked where we were from.
Canada, Tim and I replied. (Jack said England and was promptly ignored. It hurt his feelings.)
They just laughed and apologized. It turns out they had all been speaking Gaelic the whole time and thought we were from around there and knew the language. This was even more funny because Tim had mentioned earlier that my red hair may cause some locals to think I’m Scottish. What do you know, it did.
That was a great ending to our trip to Scotland! And yes, we will most certainly be going back.