My next move was to get the train up to Glasgow. I parted ways with my travel companions to make my way up to Scotland’s second city. A childhood friend lived and worked there, so I was getting free lodgings, meaning that I couldn’t really bring any extra folks along for the ride. They had other plans in the south of England anyway, so this wasn’t a major issue. We swapped Facebook details at the hostel, said our farewells and went our separate ways. I caught a discount bus and made it up to the city within a few hours.
Glasgow reminds me a lot of my first impressions of Liverpool: the city seems to be a mixture of stunning architecture (the university building is amazing) and gritty realism. It is the perfect place for people who don’t like perfect places. Like Liverpool, the city has received a lot of bad press over the last century, but much of it has been unfair. I had heard a few stories about Glasgow’s reputation, but many of the things which are propagated are true of every other city in the world. In fact, the areas of Glasgow which I visited were full of multicultural community spirit.
City of the Dead
On my first full day in the city my friend had to pull an early shift at their work, but they suggested to me that I got up early and went for a walk around the Necropolis. This area of the city (whose name literally translates as City of the Dead) is a classic Victorian style of cemetery which is “home” to some of Glasgow’s most famous deceased inhabitants. Many of the monuments were designed or carved by famous Scottish artists, so as well as being a beautiful and peaceful early morning stroll, it was a chance to some wonderful pieces of artistic merit.
If you are going to head there, I would recommend visiting at sun-up or sun-down, on a clear crisp day, as this was just amazing.
The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond
There is no point in visiting Scotland if you do not intend to spend time in the outdoors. I have long been told that Scotland has some of the most beautiful countryside in the whole world, and what I saw over the past few days proved that it was definitely a contender. However, I hope to see many more contenders over the coming few months.
My friend drove us up to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs for a beautiful country walk. The scenery is just phenomenal. We even dipped our toes in the Loch for a few minutes, although I was very glad to be able to dry off in the nice warm car.
My friend is a local history buff and was able to fill me in on a lot of the local history and folk stories of the area. As an Irishman, I have always appreciated the power of folk tales and love unpicking the fact from the fiction. Thankfully the glens and lochs of Scotland have no end of fascinating stories to tell.
As my trip seemed to be centred on nature, history and the outdoors, it seemed that going to the Kelvingrove Museum was a perfect end to my Glasgow trip. From the outside the building looks amazing, although rumour has it (definitely just a rumour!!) that the building was accidentally constructed backwards and the architect ended up throwing himself from the tower in despair.
Inside there are a few examples of Scottish art, wildlife and items of cultural significance. Whilst it is nowhere near the best museum in the world, it is well worth a quick visit if you have time, especially considering that this museum is free to visitors. The highlight of the day was seeing a rare taxidermised example of a wild haggis…