UK and Ireland 2014: Let’s go, Glasgow!

Days 7 and 8, I think.

Saturday morning, we set course for Fort William bent on seeing some good scenery and found such in Glen Nevis. True to form, we did stop by the  off the A887 prior to this, where we had an unexpected but adorable interaction with highland cows. They sold cow food there, which we got to feed to them, so naturally we savored that little piece of heaven for a bit. I mean, it’s us. Did you honestly expect us to not make animals a part of this journey?

You can check out some of our shots of GN below. Huge surprise #3 is that we made it into a bit of a photoshoot.

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The sheep didn’t think I was that cool, but interacting with them helped me learn how to cope with rejection.

Now, I’ll take another moment to commend June for her epic driving of Salvador (the Ford KA that got us from A to B for two days), which finally came to an end at the Fort William train station at 5:00 pm. After a quick bar meal surrounded by swarthy Welshman and an older Scottish guy who wanted to give us magical powers, we took the evening train out to Glasgow. If I didn’t have such a pet peeve for visible windows in pictures, I would post a plethora of pictures of the train ride over. The trip is gorgeous and varies from the classic highlands (hills, grasses, and some rock formations) to more forestry to a true city-scape. It’s beautiful.

The city of Glasgow, as versed by June, is slightly reminiscent of Brooklyn. I’ve never been to Brooklyn and I can’t adequately compare it to anything else, so I’ll go ahead and say that Glasgow is really a city with its own flavor. While the east end is a bit grittier than the design-focused city centre lined with Victorian buildings and pockets of art nouveau, it seems to be a happening place nonetheless, with many-a good hidden shopping places and some nice little parks. Glasgow is full of parks.

 Our host for the evening, Vassilis, met us at his flat in Dennistoun on Saturday night and could not have been more accommodating, both with freshly brewed rooibos tea and some comfortable conversation. HIs flat’s tall windows looked out at the (finally) dark sky we thought we’d spend only a night under, so we enlisted him for advice on where to head out for the evening at a cool 1:00 am in the morning. Did I mention we were walking this whole time?

 We landed at One Up, a club in Royal Exchange Square, City Centre, that was so reminiscent of Hollywood it nearly transported me there. Everyone in the place was too cool for anything, so we took that and ran with it, or shall we say, danced with it. Set against the embossed white walls highlighted by faint neon lights, the music became ours and in true form, we owned the night with our moves.

 I’ll only briefly recount the next morning as waking up with heavy eyelids and dehydrated integumentary systems was the least of our worries. We hastily consumed a decadent breakfast of homemade marmalades and perfectly cooked eggs (thanks again, V-dawg – you da bomb!) to catch our private hire car (note: these are generally cheaper than taxis in Scotland) to Glasgow Airport.

We get to Glasgow Airport, only to find out that it’s different from Glasgow Prestwick airport, where our flight to Dublin was heading out. With barely more than an hour left until our flight, we still had hopes – until we found out that Prestwick is actually an hour away from Glasgow airport itself. So, what did we learn?:

1) Glasgow Prestwick and Glasgow Airport are not the same thing. Noted.

2) Neither airport is actually located in Glasgow, as Glasgow is actually in Paisley and Prestwick is in Prestwick, about 45 minutes away from Glasgow’s city centre. Great naming conventions, guys. Who could possibly be confused by that?

3) I’m daft some times, which I already sort of knew.

This didn’t stop June and I from finding an amazing flat to crash at in the west end, hitting up the Gibson Street Gala for some incredible street burgers from The Left Bank and mouth-melter sweets from Queen of Hearts Cakes and Tarts, and, of course, dancing to the Glasgow Music Theatre’s inventive renditions of songs like 2Pac’s “California Love”. I guess you could call our extra day-and-a-half in Glasgow the greatest mistake we ever made.

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Anyone recognise this?

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I think our first activity for the evening warrants its own paragraph, so I’ll give it that. The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in the city centre is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s not designed to just be looked at, nor is it designed to engage you in a remotely conventional way. You enter a dimly-lit room and see a series of intricate sculptures that look like they are made of old wood, scrap metal, and other partially-intact remnants of the Industrial Revolution. There are skulls, rats, and clowns as characters in the sculptures, all of whom seem to be working on something or heading somewhere. Gears and pulleys and levers begin the move, rise, fall, clang, tick. Suddenly, lights will turn on and another wheel starts turning. It shuts off, you hear another noise in the distance and your eyes are drawn to another story, another song. Strange, jarring, and an utterly fantastic display of moving junk, you begin to realize that this is all about the human experience. Fancy that.

I won’t spoil it further, so the remainder of what I can say about Sharmanka is as follows: be open-minded, and see it for yourself.

“Let’s be good,” we both said after the show. “We should go get some sleep,” we both said.

Fifteen minutes later, we found ourselves enjoying a veritable feast at Sapporo Teppanyaki and later, danced at Bamboo. We walked out of there looking like we ended our evening with a swimming pool, so given that level of cardio performed I feel slightly better about stuffing myself with egg fried rice, tofu rolls, and key lime cheesecake after a long tenure of primal fare.

As much as I’d love to regale the next day here, I’ll break it up evenly so as the force you to return to my writing again. I’m just so good like that. Stay tuned!

– H

Thought of the day: If it makes you think, it’s art.

Special note: My entries have been and will be fairly delayed due to heavy adventuring and occasionally sparse Wi-fi. However, I promise to continue delivering entries, photos, and reviews as best I can, so likely there will be more to each entry if you check back in a few days.

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