Spoiler alert! There are fewer bad puns than usual in this entry!
Glasgow (more or less pronounced “Glâs-go,” although I’m not sure what the little hat over the “a” actually does. I added it to make it look like I knew what I was doing) is the most populous city in Scotland and the fourth-most populous city in the United Kingdom, with roughly 650,000 souls (or 1,300,000 soles, if you don’t factor in the people with one or no legs).
We took the train from Edinburgh to get there. At first the ride was calm and quiet as we had the car mostly to ourselves. However, shortly after take-off (as it were), a bunch of twenty-something Scottish hooligans invaded our previously peaceful car and carried on with voices loud enough to wake Sean Connery. And he’s dead. They were loudly bellowing “fockin’ this” and “fockin’ that, and “that guy was a real focker” as they whooped and hollered and drank wine and beer out of paper sacks, except they didn’t bother with paper sacks because it’s, you know, Scotland.
After throwing a concerned glance or two their way, I eventually stood up, gave them a long and grumpy look, and then smiled and asked them if they’d mind having their picture taken with Carolyn. They thought that was a grand idea, especially when this straight-laced looking woman old enough to be their mother stood up and called them all motherfockers. They laughed uproariously and invited us into their camp. We took some photos, shared their fortified wine (which we bought a bottle of later– hoo boy, that stuff is indeed fortified!), and shared names and histories. They were off to a concert of some sort; I had thought due to their rowdiness they were going to a football (soccer) game.
There were times we had a hard time understanding a couple of the ones who had thicker accents than the others (other than “fockin”), but it was great conversation overall. When the one-hour ride was over, we wished them a good concert and we parted the best of friends. Better to make friends than be fockin’ annoyed!
So with that entertaining welcome to Glasgow, we got off the train and took in our surroundings. Since it is a good-sized city, it looks like one. Imagine that. It’s definitely not as pretty or touristy as Edinburgh, but our hotel was right in the thick of things and we were happy to be exploring another Scottish city.
Along the way, we got a nice view of the Scottish countryside. You can’t really tell here, but the green and trees reminded us quite a bit of the Pacific Northwest. After we got into the fortified wine, we didn’t think much about taking more pictures. Hic.
We assumed some rowdy drunken Scots (actually, we wouldn’t have put it past our new friends) recently climbed up the statue to give him that cone hat. Later on we discovered that whoever had done it had actually done it some time ago, and the authorities just left it on its head simply because the Scottish are a rather cheeky lot. That right there warmed our cockles (whatever those are) toward the Scottish. Playful and with the most loveable accent on the planet? Bring on the Scotties! And the scotch!
This is a different James Watt than many Americans will remember, and many of those not fondly. Watt was the US Secretary of the Interior from 1981 to 1983 and might be best described as “anti-environmentalist.” One of his famous quotes is ““We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber!“
Apparently the pigeons, who unlike many American politicians, actually appreciate the environment, mistook this statue for the American version as you can see by his very white hairdo. “Bombs away, James Watt! We doodoo poopoo on your head for being so obnoxious!” Apparently pigeons can read, but they have no sense of history. Stupid birds.
This is the River Clyde, which runs through Glasgow. A bonnie river indeed.
In addition to being the primary source for future starship engineers, Scotland is famous for whiskey and scotch, so we took a tour of a whiskey distillery. Some of those bottles on the left date back into the 1800s, and are still drinkable. But some of them are worth thousands, too, so you’d better be thirsty! Carolyn looks less than impressed, but that’s only because this picture was taken right after we imbibed our samples.
The auditorium on the left is affectionately known as “The Armadillo,” a nickname that ended up becoming its official name. Just another example of the Scots being fun and cheeky! The big building on the right is the “OVO Hydro,” and is a concert venue with seating for 14,300.
Near the distillery is a transportation museum, where we dodged rampaging horses, prepared ourselves for our last carriage ride, got lost in a train that wasn’t moving, and marveled at how people were able to park those cars on ledges. And I thought parallel parking was difficult! We did appreciate the Scottish telling it like it is. They named that ship “The Tall Ship” for those who have no idea what a ship, or tall, is.
Here is a picture we discovered in the museum. It literally was taken in the ’20’s, which is 100% true. Regardless, it’s a spitting image of Carolyn! Amazing!
This interesting construction is called the “Falkirk Wheel.” About 20 miles outside of Glasgow, that bird-beak looking thing actually rotates, moving boats from one part of the canal to another like a mother bird feeding its chicks. The place was about to close, however, so there weren’t many chicks around that I could see. Except there was this one cute Muslim lady…
About 25 miles outside of Glasgow is an art creation called “The Kelpies.” The Kelpies are a mythical creature, described as a shape-shifting black horse spirit that’s able to adopt human form, and inhabits the Scottish lochs (which is how you say “lakes” with a Scottish accent, or it can also be the sound you make when you’re getting ready to hock a loogie). The art was also created to commemorate the large canal horses that, previous to the Falkirk Wheel, pulled boats down the canals.
They were so impressive that Carolyn decided to convert to Islam, as you can see above. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the Kelpies have absolutely nothing to do with Islam. But at least now she has to do everything I say, plus since I’m the only one who gets to see her hair in private I’ve got a whole new otherwise hidden body part to get turned on by. Oh behave!
They were impressive pieces of art to be sure! I tried to think of a pun right there but I needed helpie.
I got a kick out of this nearby sign. Is it “no swimming danger” because the water is deep? I would think deep water would actually be a little safer unless you’re wearing cement galoshes. Or maybe use some punctuation?
Lastly, about 30 miles outside of Glasgow is Stirling Castle. Stirling Castle is known as the centerpoint between the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. Today it is still a potent symbol of Scottish independence and national pride. Famous Scots who have links to the castle include:
Robert the Bruce (I guess that’s better than “Bruce the Bob”), Bonnie Prince Charlie (who was so pretty he was given a woman’s first name), Mel Gibson– er, William Wallace, whose life was not depicted accurately at all in Braveheart), and Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary lived there for about four years as a child. She was later beheaded, because of course she was, but the executioner must have been an ancestor of Mr. Bean, because it took several strokes to get the job done, with the first one glancing off her skull instead of hitting her neck. Fortunately, a couple more whacks finished the fun and frivolity. I say fortunately because she didn’t have any aspirin for that short-term headache, and aspirin was extremely expensive back then mostly because they hadn’t invented it yet.
In the end, we enjoyed Glasgow, but probably more for the surrounding sites than the city itself. They have numerous (free) museums which we didn’t see because we figured all the plaques would be written in whatever language these foreigners write in.