A Glaswegian Adventure ~ with whisky and mermaids.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It was cold in Glasgow. We knew it would be, but still ... the cold surprised us. So did the hills. Glasgow undulates, and our hotel was located right at the top of the hill.

The hotel was neither here nor there, a strange little place at the top of some lofty stairs. The rooms were small but pricey, and they were relatively comfortable. A legacy of watching "The Hotel Inspector" made me instantly aware of minor defects - like a cracked bathroom tile, a chipped mirror, a peeling ceiling above the shower. The soap dish wasn't fastened properly to the wall which created a see-saw of soap suds if your balancing act was up to scratch, and the bed was pushed against the wall to afford walking space on one side. But, it had a certain Glaswegian charm which went hand-in-hand with the city.

We upped and walked from our side of the city to the otherside, ambling along long, windy roads and counting the pubs and the Greggs. Strangely, we passed seven Greggs within an hour. (Greggs is a bakery here, a kind of "London Pie" for those at home).

We also passed two American Candy stores selling giant lollipops, giant Lindt balls, American candy various and packets upon packets of sweets like milk bottles, vampire teeth, bon bons and sour coke bottles.

We stopped to listen to Clanadonia, an amazing Tribal Highland Band playing in Buchanan Street. They were incredible - it was really difficult to pull away from their drumming and carry on with our Glaswegian explorations. There were quite a few pipers along the way, but this band really stood out with their energy and amazing rhythm.

Incidentally, they were playing right outside Nelson Mandela Place. Trust the South Africans to find the biggest Madiba reference in Scotland.

The architecture was unusual with great, big lumbering installations (this is a peacock, by the by) climbing over ancient walls. There were fairy lights covering walkways, plenty of old buildings covered in scaffolding, lots of construction and cleaning, and lots of people. They just walk on, like they have somewhere better to be.

We stayed for two days. It rained on the first day, but that was fine. The sun peeped out for the second day which was a lovely addition to city walking.

I really like that the city has a strong sense of history and living energy. You can feel aeons of energy as you walk through the city; some of it is channelled into trouble with painted-black, uninviting pubs with angry grey-haired patrons blocking the doorways. Some of it is channelled into the most beautiful art, scattered across the city.

Most of the energy is channelled into keeping warm though. Brr.

We enjoyed a browse around Glasgow's fabulous fabric stores as well. Where else would you find a sequinned pink flamingo? This was in Mandors.

And good golly, a mermaid. I can't tell you how much I want this. This one was Remnant Kings, where I bought a teeny tiny bundle of blue and green patchwork fabrics as my Scottish Souvenir. One day they will make their way into a teeny tiny little quilt and I'll always remember my Glaswegian adventures.

No, there were no deep-fried Mars Bars. We talked about them. We ummed and ahhed. We agreed that if we saw one advertised, we'd share it between the four of us. But we didn't see a sign, and we didn't go into any chippies to ask if they might drop one in the fryer for us.

We did, however, see this sign advertising man crèche. And, because I was with three men, we had to go in and see what it was all about.

This is only one very small corner of the bar boasting 400 different kinds of whisky. The three of them stood in awe, amazed at the choice, wondering what to order (mainly because all they could think of was "Bells" - and you do not order that in any bar, never mind in a discerning whisky bar dedicated to the refinement of this famous Scottish drink).

This is a water tap. You can turn it to let out just a drop of water for your refined whisky drink. Thankfully we weren't at the bar long enough to start playing with drips. The bar keep was jolly knowledgeable and gave them each a whisky of their preference so we could sit down. I had a lemonade, and suffered the dishonoured glares of my male companions.

It's funny how this whole world is just a short flight away. Despite the one-hour-by-plane option, we've agreed that we'll drive back next year to see Highland Kyloes and enjoy the countryside a bit. Can't wait.

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